SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a hot topic when it comes to the discussion of online marketing. In today’s Internet climate, most people usually find websites by typing in a few keywords into their search engine of choice, like Google. Folks trust Google to present only the most relevant sites to their search queries, so it’s only natural the first couple of sites that get thrown up are the ones that get the most clicks and visitors.
As a consequence, those top page rankings are viewed as a prime real estate by those who want to boost traffic to their websites. After all, hardly anyone would bother checking the sixteenth results page when searching for a word or phrase. This is where SEO comes in.
What Is SEO?
SEO is the practice of optimizing a website to rank high among search engines. It’s a set of rules for organizing, populating, and presenting your website in such a way that improves its search rankings and puts businesses in a better position to earn.
Perhaps intentionally, having a well-optimized website not only makes search engines happy, it also makes visitors happy. Well-optimized websites are fast and easy to navigate, leaving your visitors with a positive impression and making them want to stick around your site a little more.
If you want to drive all that traffic to your website, it’s important to have the basics of SEO down pat, and have a grasp on what good and bad SEO practices are. It’s also important to have a good engine underneath the hood of your website, and Drupal just might be the CMS for you if that’s the case.
At its core, Drupal was built with SEO in mind. It has the power, flexibility, and tools needed to optimize every facet of your website for search engines, and in its huge kit of modules, there are quite a few that are dedicated to giving you an easier time when it comes to improving the optimization of your website. You really can’t go wrong with Drupal if you have your web page’s search ranking in mind, and here are just a couple of things you can do with Drupal to improve your SEO and shoot to the top of Google search results.
Meta tags are bits of text that are integral when it comes to improving your website’s search ranking, because, in a way, it tells search engines what the content is on each page on your website. This could be the titles of your pages to the little descriptions you see underneath the website links on a Google results page. You and your search engine need these bits of information to properly present and index your site on the search results page.
Usually, you can leave it up to your search engine to generate your page’s metadata for you, but by using the Drupal Metatag module, you can customize the metadata yourself. Set your own information such as page titles and descriptions to more properly and correctly present your site to your search engine and the online world.
Cleaning up Your URLs
Having bad, messy-looking links is a no-no when it comes to SEO. You want links that are easy to read and not just a jumble of letters and numbers so that they look more attractive to prospective visitors and to your search engine, who may be looking at your URL for keywords when it determines your site’s ranking.
Many web developers never realize the implications of messy URLs and leave their link syntax as-is, but going through each and every page on your website and manually setting the URLs isn’t an attractive option either. Luckily, Drupal generates clean URLs by default, improving the readability of your links and making things a bit easier on you.
If you want your links to be better and even more easy on the eyes, popular Drupal module Pathauto is a configurable system that automatically creates clean and extremely readable links that are perfect for your site’s optimization.
Another thing to keep in mind is making sure that your links actually go somewhere. Nothing sours the user experience more than clicking a link and being presented with a 404 page, and this in turn negatively affects your search rankings.
You can avoid this from happening by using the Redirect module. If you happened to have changed the page’s URL after Google indexed it, or moved the content to a different URL, this module allows you to make 301 redirects from that old link to the new one, quickly and painlessly, without having to go through the headache of cleaning up after yourself and fixing broken links.
Improving Page Speed
Google has been using the speed your page loads as an influencing factor in search rankings for years at this point. As they point out, sites that load faster have users that stay on for much longer, so it’s not only Google that you’re pleased by speeding up your website.
You might have to spend a little to have your website up to speed, but Drupal comes with several measures to help pages load faster, such as using BigPipe.
However, it’s not only desktop users you have to keep in mind, but mobile users, too. Given the leaps and bounds that technology has undergone in the last couple of years, you now find more and more people browsing the web on their smartphones and tablets. It’s important to make sure that your site experience is just as friendly and accessible on mobile devices as it is on desktop computers. As anyone who has used a desktop site on a mobile device knows, it’s not a pleasant experience.
Drupal’s default theme is responsive by design, which means it will display well on mobile screens of any size without having to do complicated rewrites of code or having to juggle multiple URLs to make sure your site displays correctly. With Google now also looking at the page speed of mobile sites, it’s now more important than ever to focus on delivering a good, well-optimized mobile experience to improve your SEO.
Talking to Your Search Engine
Optimizing your website can be a little tough when you don’t even know basic things such as where your site traffic is coming from. Installing modules like Google Analytics makes you privy to such information, and for someone with their finger on the pulse of the site’s SEO, it’s perhaps one of the most important tools they can have.
With Google Analytics, you get to know things about your site visitors: Where in the world they come from, which links they followed to get to your site, which pages they visit and how much time they spend on those pages, what keywords they searched to find your page and more. If you’re concerned about SEO, then getting information about your website directly from Google, the most popular search engine in the world is valuable information to have, and can help you make decisions on what to improve on next.
And while you’re pulling information from Google about your website, you can also provide information about your website to Google in the form of an XML sitemap. These are specially formatted, condensed summaries of the pages of content on your website that you can submit to Google to help them find your site and let their bots crawl through your pages. Google can crawl through your site without an XML sitemap, but you take on the risk of them possibly missing pages.
With Drupal, generating an XML sitemap is as easy as installing the XML sitemap module which creates one for you, and modules like Cron can automatically make sure your sitemap is kept up-to-date with the latest information from your website.