Skip to: Site menu | Main content

Drupal and SEO: My Basics

Let me start this post by saying that I'm not an expert on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I do know the basics about Google's PageRank and keywords, but I've made it a point in the past few months to start getting to know some of the various Drupal modules that can assist in SEO.

SEO is at best an artform. If you're looking for strategies that will guarantee your site a top ranking on Google, you've come to the wrong place.

Besides the modules I cover below, one of the most important things you can do is encourage other quality site to link to your site. Google's PageRank system was originally based on the premise that Joe Blow's scientific paper is more important than Joe Schmo's paper because a whole lot more people included it in the references of their own papers. So, the more quality sites that link to your site, the higher your PageRank. If you have that covered, then everything else I'm going to cover in this post is just gravy.

What I hope to cover in this post is the various modules that I use, and a quick guide to configuring them effectively.

Pathauto

Along with core's Path module, this automatically converts Drupal paths like "http://www.example.com/node/1324" to "http://www.example.com/the_title_of_my_post". Search engines love this. Its dead-easy to set up and works automatically. Be sure to choose the "bulk update" options for your existing nodes, categories, and users - this will generate path for all your existing nodes, category, and users.

XML Sitemap

Google and other search engines have come together and agreed on a sitemap format based on XML. This means that if you can describe your site in XML format, it will help Google and other search engines more accurately index your site. Fortunatly, the XML Sitemap module does most of the work for you. You'll need to create an account with Google webmaster tools (neither Yahoo! nor Ask.com require an account), and follow the instructions (you'll have to copy a verification link from Google to the XML Sitemap config page, but that's about it). The rest of the config options have some pretty good defaults, be sure to check the boxes to submit your site map to Yahoo! and Ask.com.

Page title

This little module allows you to customize the Page Title (the title that appears in your browser's titlebar when you load the page). You can customize either the hoem page title or the interior page titles (or both). The thinking here is that on the home page of your site, you want several keywords or a key phrase that best describe your site. The closer your keywords are to the start of the page title, the more Google and other search engines value them. So, ideally, you want your home page title to be something in the format of "keyword keyword keyword by example.com". The Page title module does require that you make a small change to your theme (to give it access to the actual page title), but once this is done, the configuration is straight-forward. You can even give your content administrator(s) the ability to set the Page title to be different than the node title for interior pages.

Meta tags

The Meta tags modules (also known as "Nodewords") helps set meta tags on a per-page basis. Once installed, the configuration page allows you to set various default meta tags (copyright, geourl, keywords, robots) that will be used on each page of your site unless specifically overridden on the node authoring pages. The module also lets you set a meta description and keywords for the home page of your site. The module integrates nicely with taxonomy and CCK and there are many advanced options that can be tweaked to really get stranglehold on your site's meta tags.

Global Redirect

This module helps avoid search engines from thinking that you have duplicate content on your site. When search engines see two different URLs on a single site with the same content, they think that the site is trying to fool them into a better ranking. In Drupal, this can happen a couple of ways: first, the trailing slash on Drupal paths is not necessary, but search engines treat the two URLs ("/node/11321" and "node/11321/") as two separate pages. Secondly, the home page of a Drupal site is often found at both www.example.com and www.example.com/node (or even www.example.com/node/). Global Redirect takes care of all this and makes sure that anyone (or search engine spider) gets redirected to the "correct" URL without thinking there is a duplication of content. Global Redirect also automatically checks to see if there is an path alias for a given URL. Once this module is enabled, there's absolutly no configuration.

Search Keywords

This module doesn't really directly help with SEO, but it allows you to easily see how people are finding your site from search engines. Once installed, there's virtually no configuration and it gives you an additional Log page that shows you what search terms people typed into the various search engines to find your site. Virtually all web site logging programs do this, but to have it as part of the Drupal logging system is just plain handy.
Submitted by michael on Sat, 06/16/2007 - 8:33pm
Filed under: