SEO Tips for Drupal
This is a post about Drupal, SEO, and Drupal & SEO. While some of this information is specific to Drupal, other parts are just general to SEO, but what makes the general parts related to Drupal is that, in most cases, Drupal development makes it much easier to implement search engine optimization when compared to similar content management systems I have used.
Keyword Research is a MUST
Know what keywords you should be using throughout your copy, in your title tags, URLs, meta tags, meta description, alt tags, internal links, and headers. The best way to do that is to use Google’s Keyword Tool, now Keyword Planner. Using the keyword planner you can see how frequently terms are being search per month (globally and locally), how competitive they are for ranking, and how much they cost to advertise on. Better still, the keyword planner will give you related keywords to what you typed in. This tool is a must to start with for good Drupal SEO, really any SEO for that matter.
Kill Your Splash Page
OK, maybe you can think of some great reason to have a splash page, but it’s almost certainly going to hurt your SEO. Search engine crawlers show up at your site to try to find out what it’s all about and the typical Flash or multimedia home page doesn’t give them a lot to work with.
Splash pages have been steadily losing popularity but they’re still out there, particularly on sites for musicians and other artists. Cool or not, Google expects your home page to have important information about your site and a huge Flash file isn’t going to cut it when it comes to SEO. The really terrible thing is some splash pages not only can’t be read by search engine crawlers, but they also prevent the rest of the site from being indexed.
Google Analytics & Google Webmaster Tools
Get these two tools, Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools hooked up and running data on your Drupal site ASAP, and better still, get them hooked up together. If you aren’t pulling this data from your website you’re going to be lost in terms of what is currently going on, creating difficulty in making confident decisions on what to do next when it comes to SEO. There are a bunch of tools out there that offer similar insight when it comes to this information, but if you want to know what Google is seeing when it comes to your site, why not go directly to the horse’s mouth.
Understand Keywords for Improved SEO
Keywords are the words or phrases that your users submit as a search query to one of the search engines, and they are one of the most important parts of optimizing for search engines. There are a number of important guidelines to follow with keywords that include a few Dos and a couple of Don’ts.
- DO place keywords in the title. Obviously, search engines pay close attention to the words and phrases placed in your <title> tag. Using the Page Title module can be a big help in setting separate titles for the page and your content.
- DO place your keywords in h1, h2 and h3 tags.
- DO place important keywords at the top of your content. The keywords that are near the top of your content carry more weight than those lower on the page.
- DO place keywords in your final paragraph. Google understands that important words and phrases are frequently included in a closing paragraph.
- DON’T engage in keyword stuffing. I can’t emphasize this enough! It will hurt your ranking if Google thinks you’re cramming extra keywords into your content so you can boost your results. A general rule of thumb is to keep your keyword density to less than 5%.
- DON’T use the wrong keywords. If you’re not sure which keywords work best for a particular piece of content there are services that can be of help.Wordtracker is one such service, but there are many others. Also avoid overly general keywords. It can be tough to compete on a keyword as common as say, ‘Drupal’.
One final note about using keywords. It’s important to write naturally. If your writing sounds stilted or robotic because you’re trying to put too many keywords into the content, you’re on the wrong path. Creating content that works for both people and search engines takes time, but the effort pays off.
Backlinks, Backlinks, Backlinks
Don’t let Google fool you, even with the Penguin and Panda updates, backlinks still count pretty big. What those updates are trying to do is get rid of all the big time comment spam and professional profile builders out there by penalizing sites with an overwhelming amount of those types of links.
The key to backlink building is to make it look natural, by having a good mix of links built with just plain URLs, home page URLs, keyword anchor text, long tail keyword phrases and use of “similar” keyword type phrases. Go after links from sites of all Page Rank types and make sure the links reference not only your home page but also your inner pages. Don’t sweat the no-follow links to your site, because here is the thing: they are still links and get counted, maybe not as much as a followed link, but they are still getting picked up.
It’s become standard to include an ALT attribute on images for accessibility reasons, but it can also help your Drupal SEO. Placing keywords in the ALT and TITLE attributes of images help optimize their search potential. A less well known tip regarding images is to give them keyword-filled file names. Imagine you’re selling a great Drupal theme on your site with a high-res screenshot of your handiwork. Instead of ‘screenshot.jpg’, try naming it with the same type of keyword-filled name you assign to your URLs. A good file name can be as important as the ALT attribute.