Aiming high? Do you have big plans for your Drupal site? Maybe even propel it right to the front page of Google? Well, you're already one big step closer to your goal: you've chosen Drupal, a content management system geared at granting you unparalleled functionality and flexibility to optimize its every node, snippet of code and view. But which are the essential Drupal SEO best practices to adopt in order to harness this SEO machine's full potential?

Which are the right Drupal modules for SEO, the updated tips & tricks: the SEO essentials of 2018 for optimizing your Drupal website?

For Drupal (and even so more Drupal 8) might be "spoiling" you, the marketer, with an ecosystem of SEO-focused tools and modules to “fuel” your optimization strategy with. Yet, you can't actually rock Drupal SEO if you don't know exactly:

  1. which of them are the truly "can't live without" ones
  2. how to put them all together and (most of all) make them all work together... to your site's advantage

In short: what precisely do you need to set up and tweak on your Drupal site to give it a mega boost in rankings?

And this is why we've put together this step-by-step guide on how to use Drupal's out-of-the-box potential for SEO to the fullest. 

Here's your list of 8 tips, tricks, Drupal SEO best practices for 2018:

1. Start By Giving Your URLs a "Deep Clean"

Enabling clean URLs on your website should be on top of your Drupal SEO best practices list!

Why?

  1. first of all, because all Drupal URLs get unique IDs instead of meaningful names
  2. secondly, because readable, clean URLs wearing the pages' titles, enhance both the search engines' crawling and the overall user experience

And although in Drupal 8 you get clean URLs by default, there still are 2 particular scenarios that call for special Drupal SEO modules:

  1. when you move a piece of content to another section of your site and change its URL (Drupal won't automatically remove the old path and you run the risk to end up with duplicate content on your website)
  2. when you're facing the cumbersome SEO chore of manually naming each and every URL on your website

Introducing the Redirect and Pathauto Drupal modules!

Redirect:

  • it creates 301 redirects which... redirect (obviously!) from the old URLs to the new ones
  • it guarantees you that the links on your site preserve their value even when you apply changes to your Drupal content 
  • it pretty much takes the burden of fixing every broken link, manually, off your shoulders

Pathauto:

  • it automatically creates SEO-optimized URLs based on the content that you, yourself, define
  • for instance, you can set the URL for your blog posts to always have the following path alias: /blog/[blog title]
  • also (and this is a huge SEO factor) if you have ideally keyword-packed page titles, the Pathauto-generated URLs will automatically contain all those valuable keywords, as well 

2. Install The Drupal SEO Checklist Module: One of The Very Best Drupal SEO Modules 

And, implicitly, the very first one to install before you go ahead and add any other Drupal tool or module to your SEO essential kit.

Drupal SEO Checklist is the most powerful Drupal module that "does nothing.” Robert Shea, IBM.

And this says a lot, yet... not everything.

For it's true, the Drupal SEO Checklist module doesn't show you how to optimize your website, yet it delivers you a full list of Drupal SEO best practices to adopt. Or a to-do list of actions you should take, modules you should consider implementing if you prefer.

One covering several key sections on your site to focus your SEO efforts on:

  • title tags
  • paths
  • content
  • and more ...

3. One of The Key Drupal SEO Best Practices: Adding Meta Tags to Every Web Page

"Letting Google (and other search engines and social media sites) know what the content on your web pages is all about", this is how we could sum up the meta tags' role.

They're snippets of text that not only that:

  • let Google know what each one of your web pages is all about
  • but also indicate how you want the content of each page on your site to be described on other websites.
     

Now, can you imagine the arduous task of manually adding a custom browser and page titles, descriptions and keywords to every single page on your website?

No need to, for you can always install the Metatag module, one of the must-have Drupal SEO modules to add to your toolkit!

Here's how it works:
 

  • it enables you to add all the needed meta tags automatically, to each page on your Drupal site
  • it places both the meta tags and the meta title in the pages' headers, which translates into less code to write for you and faster rendering
     

And since we've reached the meta tags "chapter" on your Drupal SEO best practices list, let's put another key module into the spotlight: the Alternate Hreflang Module!

A particularly vital module if it's a multilingual Drupal website that you're about to optimize:
 

  • it adds hreflang tags to every page on your site
  • alternative hreflang tags that search engines can then reference in order to serve the right language/regional URLs in their SERPs
     

Pretty convenient, don't you think?
 

4. Set Up Google Analytics for Your Website & Other Must-Have Drupal Modules to Enable

"Help them help you!"

Ease search engines' "job" of crawling and indexing your website, by making your website... easy to crawl into and to index (obviously!). 

And by tapping into all those Drupal SEO tools put at your disposal for better “communicating” with them (the search engines).

… for gaining a deep understanding of where your site's standing when it comes to its relationship with search engines and social media sites.

Which brings us to 3 Drupal modules/tools that can intermediate (and enhance) your site's communication with the search engines: Google Analytics, XML Sitemap and Cron.

Google Analytics:
 

  • it automatically adds the more-then-valuable Google Analytics code snippet to your site
  • ... that you can control (deciding how and when it should be used) to your liking
  • it "injects" Google Analytics superpower into your website: priceless insights into your site visitors' behaviour on your site, what keywords they've used to land there, their demographics etc.
  • moreover, the module fixes Google Analytics' known drawback of tracking down ALL visitors, admins here included
  • ... and it does that by showing the code snippet only when "regular" (non-admin) users are visiting the website
     

XML Sitemap:
 

  • it generates an ideally formatted XML sitemap listing the content on your website, that you can submit to the search engines
  • this way, they (search engines) get to crawl in easily and index ALL the pages on your site (all those that you want them to crawl)
     

Cron:
 

  • a system that keeps your Drupal site conveniently updated and "clean"
  • it checks for updates itself, it recreates the XML sitemap if needed, keeping it up to date, it indexes the newly added content...
     

End of Part 1! The second half of this post on Drupal SEO best practices to adopt in 2018 will tackle aspects such as:

  1. building your keyword list and using it to "fuel" your content with
  2. a few more essential Drupal SEO modules to add to your toolbox
  3. valuable tips and tricks on how to speed up your website (since top speed and search engine optimization go hand in hand)

... and more! Stay tuned!

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