SharePoint 2013 SEO Headaches – Managed Metadata Navigation “Feature” or “Bug”


I have been working on a new project recently to migrate existing SharePoint 2010 websites into SharePoint 2013.  One of the obvious benefits  for this migration is the ability to use Managed Metadata Navigation to create friendly Urls.  While this post is within the context of a SharePoint Migration, the “issue” or “feature” is not dependent on a migration and is apparent on new Site Collections.

The Requirement

The Requirements are very simple:

  • Create managed navigation to pages in the Site
  • Assign SEO metadata to each page to be displayed by Search Engines.
  • Create a Home navigation link to return the user to the Homepage of the site (this is the catalyst for the issue)
  • Confirm that all keywords and description meta-tags are appearing to end users.

The Solution

At first glance the solution appears simple.  Create a new Term Set, create some terms, assign a page to one or many terms, and then the rest is catered for you automatically.  However when trying to create the “Home” node I stumbled upon an issue.  Typically when you create managed metadata navigation you assign a friendly Url to every term (e.g. /about ,  /news ,  /contact ).

However, when you create a Home node you do not want to have the Url to this node to become “/home” you instead want it to go to “/” (the site root) instead.


Customised Term to point to “/” homepage


SharePoint will gladly permit you to assign a forward slash (i.e. no term name) against a term and when you navigate back to your site the Navigation term exists, it goes to your homepage and you believe everything is right with the solution.  Wrong!

The Bug(s)

Performing these steps however has raised a couple of issues when trying to modify the SEO of the page.

Firstly a page assigned to a term which does not have friendly Url with any text in it (i.e. “/”) does NOT allow you to modify the SEO properties of the page.


If configured correctly this option is enabled like this.

The menu option is simply disabled if not configured correctly.


Re-assigned Friendly URL to term

I thought that there may be an underlying issue with permissions on the page. After providing a friendly url for the page, the option magically becomes active and I can then set the SEO Settings.  I therefore filled in the properties and then after saving, reverted my term to remove the friendly url part and assume all is great. Wrong again!

This highlighted the second issue (and in my opinion more worrying one), which is when viewing the page as an anonymous user I now discover that it is missing the SEO metadata tags on the page (No keywords or description appears in my source code). Perhaps it didn’t save my SEO?  I retrace my steps and set a friendly url, check the page SEO settings, and see that they are all there. The term definitely has my SEO settings associated with it.  I go back to my page (now with a friendly URL) and I notice that the Keywords and Description meta tags are appearing in the page source.

It appears that if you do not properly assign a friendly url to a term like the image above, SharePoint will NOT render the controls correctly even though the term has associated metadata.

The Work Around

The workaround for this issue is quite a simple one, but none the less frustrating as it does not allow you to use relative URL’s in the Term set.  On your navigation term in the Term Store Management Tool, you need to assign the “Home” term to be “Simple Link or Header” rather than “Term-Driven Page with Friendly URL”. 


Switch Node type to “Simple Link or Header”

By setting the term node type to a specific URL enables you to assign a term to a page like before (and therefore get the benefits of SEO) without losing the metadata tags off the homepage source.  The drawback to this is obviously that you are unable to use tokens e.g. ~sitecollection in this link or header block but I think this is a small price to pay for the required functionality.


Managed Navigation Term Sets in SharePoint 2013 are a fantastic addition to the SharePoint 2013 Toolset and really makes SharePoint 2013 as a Website Platform that much more flexible and competitive with alternatives.  I hope this post helps some people out there.


I am the SharePoint Development Lead at ICS Solutions Ltd. As well as broad knowledge in SharePoint 2007, 2010 & 2013 my specialities lie with SharePoint Branding, WebPart Development and JQuery integration.

2 Comments on "SharePoint 2013 SEO Headaches – Managed Metadata Navigation “Feature” or “Bug”"

  1. Rainer says:

    Hi, thanks. We’ve quite a similar problem with “/” in our Termstore:
    Our termstore management tool contains different termsets (trees) for topics, target groups etc.
    The terms itself are not only named with a single word but a word chain, example “E-Mobility/E-Solutions”. As you can see, we’d like ti use the Slash / as a character. Is this supported or not?

  2. “/” are supported in term sets and titles of terms, it will become harder with regards to navigation and these will have to be replaced for that to work.

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