Not only does MODX give total creative freedom, it lets you stay abreast with the best practices in SEO for both on-page and meta including OpenGraph and's MicroData.

By The MODX Team
March 14, 2011

Looking for a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) CMS?


Savvy site owners have to agree that SEO is one of the most important considerations when building a website.

After all, if your clients can't find you on the web, then it's all for naught. And being naught is not so hot. With MODx, your Content Management System doesn't fight with your SEO mojo. It just works great, right out of the box.

Few will dispute "Content is King" with search engines. As in everything between

Typically, sites with minimal code/markup compared to the actual words on the page fare better in the search game. Arguments with lots of good evidence behind them abound for that lean, semantic XHTML/CSS sites gives the words more weight or "relevancy" (a very important SEO term) compared to sites that are built on top of bloated structures with loads of non-semantic markup (typically, table-based sites).

A few rules of thumb that work well over the long haul and should keep you out of hot water with Google:

  • Don't go overboard with "keyword stuffing", use techniques intended solely to influence site ranking, or other such nonsense.
  • Make your page title bar content (your browser "chrome") mirror succinctly the content of the page.
  • Use XHTML code that puts the important content as close as possible to the body tag, and get rid of inline styling.
  • Have a headline that elaborates a bit on the content of the page near the top of your page.
  • Write compelling, succinct copy that's topically relevant.

When you think about it, humans probably benefit even more from the above guidelines than search engines. Following them ensures page authors think and refine their message. And after all, it's the people paying the bills typically, not the search engines – even with Adsense sites as bad copy means more people bail out and don't click your ads.

MODx is a true SEO CMS

Google SEO CMS

MODx makes creating sites that search engines can love almost automatic. What you put in it and however you want it to look is what you get out of MODx.

Write XHTML code that puts the important content as close as possible to the body tag

We don't force a cumbersome template language or "block" or "3-column" or "channel" or "insert-favorite-term-here" template system. In fact, creating a template in MODx is as simple as taking some static XHTML (or HTML chock full of tables even!) and replacing a few key areas with things like [*pagetitle*], [*longtitle*], [*description*], [*content*], [*sidebar*], [[Menu]] and {{footer}}. That means you can build a super-clean XHMTL/CSS driven site that uses the minimum amount of code so search engines have nothing but your content to think about. Learn more about templates

Simple Page Titles and Automatic Header: Content Metadata

Every MODx page has several bits of "metadata" that are automatically available to every page. The following outlines some good uses for them as they relate to search:

  • Title – great for using in the head of your document for the browser chrome title:
    [<!-- -->(sitename)] | [<!-- -->*pagetitle*]
  • Long Title – great for H1 or H2 tags as your automatic longer titles:


  • Description – Meta description... although this doesn't really affect search ranking any more according to many, some search engines still use this as the basis for the summary in their listings. Also good for sitemap pages where you have a page name and a description for every page in your site.
  • Alias – perfect for creating pretty, human-readible URLs that also tie in to your content like
  • Summary/Introtext – another option for meta content (in your document head) or whatever else you desire
  • Menu Title – sometimes you need a super-short menu title, and this is just the ticket:

Making URLs that People can Read and Search Engines Love

The way your browser's URLs return are also important in the Search game. Google arbitrarily refuses to index URLs containing "?id=". Many argue about how URLs should be written, so that's why MODx and mod_rewrite let you do it whichever way you prefer. You can create URLs manually or dynamically in several formats:

  • (or .cgi or .jsp or .aspx or .php or .cfm or .anythingyouwant)
  • (no extension)
  • (manually created)
  • (automatically created from the page title)
  • (uses site hierarchy and allows for duplicate aliases in different pages)
  • any combination of the above

Meta Content Management

Finally, MODx also provides several ways to manage the meta content on every page. While Google has dropped any use of Meta Keywords in considering your site's ranking, descriptions can still be used. You can use {{chunks}} to create sets of meta content, or optimally use Template Variables (TVs) that help to automate larger sites.

A killer feature of TVs for our SEO CMS is that they support @BINDINGs. For meta-description management, the @INHERIT binding is a life saver. You can also use the default value to create a generic site-wide meta description value to be used if you don't enter anything.

This is useful when you have a section of related content and don't necessarily want to write unique meta descriptions for every page to get the site launched, allowing for incremental improvement over time. Simply assign an appropriate description to the parent container and all descendant docs (children, grandchildren, etc.) will use this value unless you give them an overriding value. Automatic, fast and easy.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Rather than wax poetically about how things should or can be done, we thought we'd just show what we have done for our own project.

MODx SEO Results
Search Key Phrase: Rank Results Page Position
Google Organic Search Results
SEO CMS 1 386,000 1 1
Ajax CMS 1 7,800,000 1 1,2
Content Management System 13 92,500,000 2 3
CMS 17 155,000,000 2 7
PHP Application Framework 7 1,670,000 1 7