Search Engine Optimization or SEO is what we do to ensure our website is as visible as possible to our target markets. We do this by optimizing our website for users while following search engine guidelines.
As any SEO professional knows, SEO advice is always changing due to search engine algorithm updates and discoveries by other SEO professionals. However, there are a couple of best practices that we have found to be consistent.
This guide is your ultimate guide to Drupal SEO. In here you will find answers to common questions on SEO specifically for Drupal, consistent best practices, where to look for information when performing an audit, and more.
Is Drupal good for SEO?
Although WordPress remains to be the most popular content management system, Drupal is used by 10.54% of the top 10,000 websites out there. Since Drupal is considered to be a heavy lifter—taking in large amounts of data and traffic easily—it’s no surprise that it’s used by some of the most famous companies and organizations in the world such as General Electric, United Nations, British Columbia’s Knowledge Network, and even the United States District Court: The Southern District of New York.
Does Drupal enable search engine friendly URLs?
It does. Taking a look at one of our recent blog posts, How to Optimize Digital Experiences in Drupal, you will see that there is an option to automatically generate a URL alias:
This is dependent on the H1 you give your blog, which means changing your H1 automatically changes the URL and puts a 301 redirect on it.
You can also choose to not generate the URL alias. For example, we wanted to focus on auditing for this blog post, so we opted to manually put the URL slug.
If we decide that we want to change the URL to reflect the H1, I can just click Generate automatic URL alias and it will do the redirect for me.
Drupal modules for SEO
I am an avid believer that SEO cannot be done simply through the use of plugins or modules, but I do have to say that they are great for helping out with some technical and on-page SEO tasks.
For example, Drupal has a Metatag module that automatically puts in the metatag for you (you can also edit these as you deem fit):
You can add basic tags, referrer policies, open graphs, and Twitter cards.
The Schema.org Metatag module extends the Metatag module above to give you the ability to implement structured data to your site.
Simple XML Sitemap
This sitemap module generates an XML sitemap for your website. When you go to your website[com]/sitemap.xml, you will see something like this that you then can submit to Google Search Console for crawling:
Redirects—especially 301 redirects—are essential to ensuring that people are getting to the most relevant pages they need. For example, this blog is the destination URL for a couple of earlier blogs that had thinner content.
With the URL Redirects module, it’s so much easier to apply and keep track of the redirects we have on our website.
As mentioned earlier, Pathauto is a powerful module that allows you to have search engine-friendly URLs and redirects depending on your H1.
But again, SEO is so much more than installing modules and calling it a day. So, let’s move on to our checklist.
Drupal SEO checklist
Here’s a quick primer on SEO. SEO is divided primarily into three categories, whether you’re using Drupal or another CMS:
1 Technical factors
Optimizing a website to make it easier for search engines to crawl and index (speed, redirects).
2 On-page factors
Optimizing factors on the web page for search engines and users to easily make sense of their content (titles, meta descriptions, search intent).
3 Off-page factors
Optimizing for how search engines and users perceive your site’s expertise, trustworthiness, and authority (E-A-T, incoming links).
Google has over 200 ranking factors, divided into these three groups. Feel free to dive into the 200 here (some of these are speculative, so use your own judgment).
Yes, it can get tedious and confusing. All in all, what I can say is that if you have these three principles as your guiding light, everything will fall into place:
- Relevant, informative content that fulfills search intent;
- Smooth and fast user experiences; and
- High site authority and reputation.
Drupal SEO best practices
In this portion, I will walk you through the process of how I do SEO. Some people like to start with tackling on-page factors, but I prefer starting with the technical aspects of things.
Get these tools ready for the entire process:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- PageSpeed Insights
- Screaming Frog
- Semrush or your preferred tool for keyword research
- A spreadsheet to record your changes
For this first part, we will be using the most important audit tool there is—Screaming Frog.
Tip: Make sure to add your Google Analytics, Google Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, and other tools you’d like to pull data from. Don’t forget to add your sitemap as well!