The Drupal Content Management System (CMS) is designed for creating large, complex websites. Drupal's system code is also open, which means you can rebuild it according to your precise needs.
On top of this:
- You can integrate many different types of content into your website such as informational pages, forums, news, polls, and blog posts.
- Drupal can be easily scaled to meet your website's size as well as fluctuations in your traffic.
- Multilingual functionality is built into Drupal's core. No need to configure expensive plugins or extensions for your website content to be accessed by non-English language readers.
However, it’s no good having a fantastic multi-lingual website if you're not being found in the search engines. Your website needs to adhere to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) best practices.
So, here are the foundations to making sure your Drupal website is as SEO friendly as possible.
- Implement the Drupal SEO Checklist
- Optimise your Titles and Meta Descriptions
- Clean up your URLs
- Redirect all your old Urls
- Include Meta Tags
- Avoid duplicate content
- Tell the Search Engines about your website
- Speed up your Website and consider the Core Web Vitals
1. Implement the Drupal SEO Checklist
The Drupal SEO Checklist module uses best practices to check your website for proper search engine optimisation. It eliminates guesswork by creating a functional to-do list of modules and tasks that remain. Updated regularly with the latest techniques, it makes your on-page Drupal search engine optimisation hassle-free.
2. Optimise your Titles and Meta Descriptions
Titles and meta descriptions are crucial to making Drupal as SEO friendly as it can be. Titles and meta descriptions are snippets of text in the background code - so they can’t be seen on the page.
They are used to tell Google, other search engines and social media sites about the content on each page of your website.
The Drupal Metatag module allows you to automatically add title tags and structured metadata to each page of your website. This module places both the HTML title tag and meta tags in the header of a web page. Doing so means less code and faster rendering of your web pages which also helps with your SEO.
Additional consideration: If your page is very important in terms of traffic, conversions, and revenue you’ll need to make sure that your titles and meta descriptions are optimised to convert people, not please search engines. In this case, you'll want to use the tool to regularly update and change your titles and meta descriptions. Don’t forget it may be your first engagement with a new customer or visitor, so you want it to tell them as much as possible about you.
3. Clean up your URLs
A clean URL is less intimidating to a human user. They can look at it and get an idea of what the page contains. Clean URLs are also more shareable. Being short and meaningful, they are more pleasing to the eye and more likely to be shared on Twitter, Facebook, or other sites, and via email.
Complex, badly formed or incorrect urls are a major cause of a drop in SEO performance. You need to ensure your URLs are clean, your site shows the right content, and link value is maintained even when your content changes.
Drupal 8 installs clean URLs by default and it can’t be turned off, but you can do even more with the Redirect Url module.
4. Redirect all your old Urls
Search engines cache your page urls within their own index (database). It makes finding and presenting information about your website in the search listings much quicker. However if you remove pages from your website they will still be in the search engines and if found will lead visitors to missing pages or broken links.
In Drupal 8, the Redirect module allows you to redirect old URLs to new URLs. Perfect when you’ve moved a piece of content to another section of your site or changed a page URL.
5. Include Meta Tags
Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page's content; the meta tags don't appear on the page itself, but only in the page's source code. Meta tags are essentially little content descriptors that help tell search engines what a web page is about.
The Drupal Metatag module allows you to provide extra metadata to your website, generally in the meta description tag, and the meta keywords tag. Both of these are crawled by search engines and you can optimise your results by including words and phrases that people may use to search your site, but don’t explicitly appear in your content.
Metatag is available for Drupal 7 and 8, with the last version being released in 2020.
6. Avoid duplicate content
Duplicate content and page titles on your website can negatively impact your ranking with search engines.
With Drupal you can avoid this with the Suggest Similar Titles module.
Suggest similar titles is a module to avoid duplication of titles for all content types. At node add page when you are done with the title, this module compares node titles of the same content type and suggests to you that one title matching with this title already exists in the database. This helps the admin/user to avoid content duplication.
7. Tell the Search Engines about your website
Search engines want to crawl, cache and index your website as quickly and effectively as possible. It saves them time and money and allows them to access data much quicker. That's why making sure that your website has valid sitemaps is so important. Search engines will find your sitemaps and visit your website using the sitemap as a guide - reducing the need to crawl and spend time finding any new or amended web pages.
There are two types of sitemaps: HTML and XML. HTML sitemaps guide visitors, mostly. XML sitemaps guide search engine bots, to ensure they find a site’s URLs to index.
Drupal 8 already has an xml sitemap function already but many developers and SEO consultants recommend replacing this with the simple_sitemap module, as it features the newer hreflang XML sitemap standard developed by Google.
You should be able to add and test your new xml sitemap in Google Search Console for any errors. Google Search Console is a free service that lets you learn a great deal of information about your website and the people who visit it. You can use it to find out things like website errors and issues, how many people are visiting your site and how they are finding it, whether more people are visiting your site on a mobile device or desktop computer, and which pages on your site are the most popular.
8. Speed up your Drupal Website
Google has indicated site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. So it's important that you make your website and web pages as quick loading as possible.
To begin the Google Pagespeed optimisation of a Drupal CMS website, you need to go to the PageSpeed Insights tool: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
PageSpeed Insights analyses the content of a web page, then generates ascore out of 100 and suggestions to make that page faster.
Aim for a score of over 75/100 for your most important web pages. This will ensure that they are able to perform well in mobile search results.
From May 2021, you'll also need to target sub stats on the page speed report: CLS, LCP, and FCP. Learn more about the Core Web Vitals update here.
We can help you with your Drupal SEO!
We're a Drum Recommended Agency, a Google partner and experts in Drupal web development, UX and SEO.
Tell us about your website on our contact page and we can arrange an audit for your site. We also have extensive experience with Charities, NFPs, and Government organisations so you'll be in safe hands.
If you aren't sure if you need SEO services, you can also apply for a free SEO audit.