I've been using Ghost CMS for my two websites for quite a while now.
And since some people are curious about using this platform for their blogs, I wanted to write about Ghost's SEO strengths and share some optimization tips.
So, in this article, you'll:
- Learn the pros and cons of using Ghost for SEO.
- Get tips on improving your Ghost website for search engines.
- Find out if Ghost is the right choice for your SEO goals.
Let's get started!
TL;DR - Is Ghost Good for SEO?
Yes, I think that Ghost is a really great choice for SEO. Its content-centric nature lets you focus on your articles without getting overwhelmed by plugins or technicalities.
Add to that its speed, lightweight nature, and membership system for audience building, and Ghost emerges as one of the best choices for SEO.
Ghost SEO Features
Let's talk about Ghost's features that simplify optimizing our website and content for search engines.
A sitemap is an XML file that lists all the different pages, posts, and other files, along with how they relate to one another. Search engines, like Google, use sitemaps to crawl websites more effectively.
Ghost takes care of sitemap generation for your website. This includes every post, page, author, and tag you've created – all the essentials that Google should be aware of.
To illustrate, here's a glimpse of how Ghost's automatically generated sitemap looks for my site:
Thanks to automated sitemap generation, you can immediately upload your sitemap files to platforms like Google Search Console, giving Google insights into your website's structure.
Meta Data Configuration
Well-written page titles and meta descriptions are CRUCIAL for SEO.
When someone searches online, the title is often their first introduction to your content. It should clearly and concisely communicate the content of the page. The same goes for meta description.
Setting up meta titles and descriptions in Ghost is very easy. You can configure them directly in the editor; plus, there's an option to establish a canonical URL.
A canonical URL is the version of a webpage chosen by search engines like Google as the main version when there are duplicates. This selected URL is prioritized to avoid redundant content in search results.
These pages may cater to different English dialects (British vs. American). Search engines prioritize the first URL by specifying it canonical, avoiding duplicate content issues.
Setting meta data in Ghost boosts content visibility and lets you design different search snippets for each entry. This enhances your site's appeal and relevance in search results.
X and Facebook Cards Support
You can easily create Facebook and X cards for your content in Ghost. This lets you set the title, description, and image and preview them for accuracy.
How's it done? Through special meta tags, often called OG tags.
"OG" stands for Open Graph, a protocol that transforms web pages into interactive objects within a social network.
If someone enjoys what they read on your site, they may want to share it with others. By incorporating OG tags, you can streamline this sharing process and ensure your content appears at its best on social platforms.
These tags also help platforms like Facebook understand the content better, boosting its reach to the right people.
This is another simple SEO enhancement you can apply directly from Ghost's editor.
Redirects send traffic from one URL to another. You can use them when you're moving content on your site, fixing dead links, or shifting content across domains.
For example, you can redirect traffic to a similar page if you're taking down a page but don't want to lose valuable backlinks.
Setting up redirects in Ghost is quite easy. You can modify the
redirects.yaml file. Simply download it from Ghost Admin, make changes in any code editor, and then upload it back.
Want a detailed guide? There's an excellent tutorial on setting up redirects in Ghost.
Integration with third-party services is vital for boosting a platform's capabilities. You can link to various platforms, streamline your publishing routine, sync data, gather analytics, and much more.
Ghost recognizes the power of integration. The CMS offers effortless connections with many third-party services - this includes direct integrations with tools like Google Analytics, Disqus for comments, Stripe, PayPal, and more.
Now, the beauty of using Ghost is its simplicity in these integrations. You can just use the Code Injection feature that lets you add the tracking code to your website's head section.
Curious about the specifics? For a detailed walkthrough, here's a tutorial to integrate your Ghost website with Google Analytics.
Simplified Tag Management
Categories and tags might not directly influence SEO, but they play a big role in user experience (UX). Organizing articles on your website allows visitors to easily navigate and find what they're looking for.
Ghost makes tag management simple. It not only auto-creates a page for each tag but also allows customization, like tweaking meta descriptions. And if you want, you can quickly integrate these tags into your site's navigation.
Improving navigation and UX can indirectly boost your SEO, making your site more user-friendly and accessible.
Ghost's code injection feature lets you conveniently insert CSS styles, custom fonts, meta tags, and scripts into your site's header and footer.
This provides a way to customize many elements on your website without directly modifying the theme files.
While Code Injection doesn't boost SEO directly, it may enhance the overall site experience. For instance, you might use it to apply a hover effect to your headings.
Headings play a vital role in on-page SEO and site navigation. Properly structured, they allow visitors to click and instantly scroll to specific sections on a page. Using code injection, you could apply styles like an underline effect to your headings, making their interactive nature more evident.
But that's just one use case of code injection. You can also integrate entire CSS files and scripts, enhancing both the performance and appearance of your website.
Website Speed and Themes
Website speed plays a pivotal role in determining user experience and search engine ranking. If a site is slow or non-intuitive, visitors will abandon it, and search engines might penalize it in the rankings.
Ghost stands out in this regard, offering a lightweight framework that ensures quick load times.
The theme you choose can also influence your site's speed. It's essential to select one that balances appearance with performance. While Ghost might not have as extensive a theme library as WordPress, it still offers some quality choices. From my experience, I easily found a theme that aligned with my preferences, though I did have to make some tweaks to get it just right.
In essence, Ghost, combined with the right theme, ensures your website doesn't just appeal visually but also excels in performance, addressing both SEO concerns and user expectations.
Lastly, I wanted to touch upon password-protecting your Ghost website. While it might not be a fundamental feature, it can prove helpful in specific scenarios.
Ghost allows you to password-protect your website, ensuring that your content stays private until you decide to share it.
When you enable this, your site locks behind a single password. A point to remember: when this feature is on, functions related to search engine visibility and social sharing pause.
This may sound like a step back for a blog aiming for exposure, but the feature has its own unique advantages.
For example, if you're setting up Ghost and testing its features and themes or changing your content strategy, you might not want everyone to see your evolving work. This feature lets you keep things private until you're satisfied.
Another intriguing use is for those aiming for a niche audience. You can create an exclusive blog where only select readers, maybe subscribers or a specific community, have the key – the password.
Challenges with Ghost SEO
Lack of a Straightforward 410 Page Setup
Ghost, while an effective platform for many, does have its limitations regarding SEO. One of them is the difficulty in setting up a 410 page.
Unlike the 404 Not Found response code, which appears for mistyped or non-existent URLs, the 410 code indicates that a previously available resource is now permanently unavailable.
I don't think it's possible to create a 410 page unless you're independently hosting your Ghost website outside of Ghost Pro hosting.
This isn't a major concern, but it could become an issue if you intend to delete older articles. The 410 code advises Google to de-index the resource, streamlining the removal process.
Difficulty in Modifying the Link Rel Attribute
rel attribute in links can be challenging. While it's possible, it's not a quick process.
rel attribute indicates to search engines the purpose and relationship of a link. For example, if you want to prevent Google from associating or crawling a linked page, you'd use the nofollow value:
<a href="..." rel="nofollow">Some other website</a>
Beyond nofollow, there are other
rel values like sponsored to mark links that are ads or paid placements.
By default, most links are set to the dofollow attribute, so modifications are often unnecessary. However, if you want to insert a different type of link in an article, doing so in Ghost takes time.
rel attribute is not impossible, especially since the Ghost editor supports markdown. This means you can embed an HTML element with the appropriate anchor and rel attribute.
However, it's time-consuming. Editing multiple links in an older article requires extensive custom HTML coding.
Improving this process in Ghost would undeniably enhance the user experience.
Issues with Setting Alt Attributes for Gallery Images
Within the Ghost Text editor, you have the option to add either a single image or a gallery to enhance your content visually. However, the editor doesn't currently allow users to set an alt attribute for images within the gallery component.
Though it's possible to manually adjust the HTML code snippet to insert the alt attribute, this workaround is not user-friendly and can be time-consuming.
It's not a critical issue, but it would be helpful if this process were improved in future updates.
My Personal Take on Ghost
I think that Ghost is great for SEO.
It offers numerous built-in features that enhance your website's search engine optimization. This includes an auto-generated sitemap, custom meta data, open graph protocols customization, and excellent site performance.
What I value most is its emphasis on content.
With Ghost, you can simply choose a theme, begin publishing content, gather members, and avoid the hassle of excessive customization or an overload of plugins.
I've had a positive experience with it for a while, and I'm very satisfied with my decision.
And that wraps it up. I hope this article gave you a clearer insight into the SEO capabilities of Ghost and helped you determine if it's the right platform for you.
If you have any questions or feedback about this article, please don't hesitate to get in touch through the contact form.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.