Drupal Search Engine Optimization using SEO Modules

Drupal is one of the best content management systems for building and developing websites. The Drupal developers make it very convenient and easy for webmasters to implement search engine optimization practices on an existing and completed website. This article will show you how.

The technique involves using “modules” which operate similarly to a WordPress plug-in (for those very familiar with WordPress). A module makes its possible to implement added features (such as SEO practices) on your existing Drupal installation without the need to customize or modify the core “Drupal” source code.

Before proceeding further, it is important that you meet the following requirements that are used to implement this tutorial:

  1. This tutorial uses the latest released version, which is Drupal 6.19 as of October 2010.
  2. Your Drupal should be fully installed in your web server. A local web server will do (such as XAMPP). If you still need to install Drupal, refer to this useful guide for installing Drupal in an Ubuntu XAMPP local server.
  3. It is recommended for SEO purposes that you enable the “Clean URL” feature during the installation stage of Drupal.

How to create static front page content in Drupal

Static front page content gives you the following SEO advantages:

  1. It lets you create a specialized landing page for your visitors where you can directly show them your services. This is particularly useful, since your home page is often the most frequently visited page and most common landing page on your website.
  2. It prevents the duplication of content between your home page and other website URLs. By assigning unique content, you are isolating the home page from any duplicate content issue.
  3. It gives your website a more professional/business-like look, as opposed to an informal blog, where the front page is a collection of recent posts.

The following are the easy steps you need to take to create static front page content:

  1. Log in as administrator and then click “Create Content” ==> “Page.” You can then enter your own customized front page content as well as the title of the page. For the title tag, make sure it is SEO friendly (maximize to create the best impact in search engine results).

  2. Expand “Menu settings” and then, if you see “Menu link title,” enter “Homepage.” This will let Drupal use the anchor text “Homepage” for the home page internal link.

  3. In the “Parent Item” section, choose “Primary links.” Also, just ignore “weight.”

  4. Click “Publishing options.” You need to check these two options to ensure that your content will appear on your home page: “Promoted to front page” and “Published.”

  5. Hit “Save.” Launch your browser and then go to your Drupal website. Get the URL of the published content. This URL does not yet use the home page URL, but a specific Drupal content URL, for example: http://localhost/drupal/node/1 (if you are working in a local host server). You can get this URL by clicking the “Read more” of that content on the home page.

  6. You need to go to ”Administer” ==> “Site Configuration” ==> “Site information.” At site information, go to the bottom of the page and look for the ”Default front page” option. Enter node/1 if the content URL published in step 5 above uses http://localhost/drupal/node/1. Here is a screen shot: 

 

 

7. Hit Save Configuration.

Drupal Global Redirect Module

The global redirect module is a very important module that will fix duplicate content issues. For example, it will fix the possible duplicate content issue between http://localhost/drupal/node/1 and http://localhost/drupal/ by doing a 301 redirect.

To install and enable the global redirect module, go through the following steps.

1. Download the module here: http://drupal.org/project/globalredirect, and then unzip and copy the “globalredirect” folder to the “module” directory of your Drupal installation.

2. Go to Administer ==> Site Building ==> Modules. To enable this module, just click “Global Redirect” and then “Save Configuration”.

To check to see if this is working, http://localhost/drupal/node/1  (the content URL generated which is using the same content as your front page) will be 301 redirected to the Drupal home page URL, e.g. http://localhost/drupal/.

To use keywords in the URL, you will use the "Path" module. This module is included in the default installation. Keywords can help your SEO; for example, you may want to use http://localhost/drupal/contactus instead of http://localhost/drupal/node/3. 

To enable this, go to “Administer” ==> “Site Building” ==> “Modules.” Find “Module, check it and click “Save configuration” to enable this module.
To make it possible to assign an SEO-friendly URL, you need to assign a “URL Alias.” You need to go to “Administer” ==> “Site Building” ==> “URL aliases.”

To add an alias, you need to click “Add Alias” and then, in the “Existing System Path,” type the old URL path, e.g node/3. Under “path alias,” enter the keyword representing that URL, e.g contactus

Hit “Create New Alias” to implement the settings. If you visit your Drupal website after this implementation, you will see that it now uses keywords in the URL. Note that this is not automatic, but a manual method of assigning URL alias. The automatic feature will be discussed below.

Implementing Drupal “SEO Checklist” Module

One of the most useful modules in Drupal for SEO implementation is the “SEO Checklist” module. 

To implement this module, you need to download the module first. If you are using Drupal 6.19, use the 6.x.3.0 version.

After downloading, extract the package and then put it in your Drupal module directory. Log in to your Drupal as administrator, and then go to “Administer” ==> “Site building” ==> “Modules.” Check “SEO Checklist” and then click the “Save configuration” button to enable this module.

Once it is enabled, go to “Administer” ==> “Site Configuration” ==> “SEO Checklist.” You might see a suggestion telling you to install the “Vertical tabs module.” Go ahead and install this module to make the interface look better and user-friendly.

For each checked item, you need to do three things.

  1. First, if the module is not available, you need to click “Download.” You will be taken to the official page of that module in Drupal. You will then need to download the module, extract it and copy it to your Drupal module directory.

  2. Once the module is well placed in the Drupal module directory, you will need to click the “Enable” link. You will be taken to the module administration page to enable this module.

  3. Finally, once the checked items are enabled, you can click the “Save” button under “SEO Checklist.” Note that the SEO Checklist module will automatically check the item once it is properly enabled or implemented.

So let’s get started. First, you’ll need to download and enable the ”Token” module. Check “Token,” “Token actions” and “TokenSTARTER” on the module administration page. This is required for other modules to work.

Next, you’ll need to download and enable the “Page title” module. To configure this module, set Default to [page-title]. This will let your inner page URLs use the exact page title and remove the site name, which is redundant and increases the risk of duplicate titles. Now, set Frontpage to [site-name] | [page-title]. This will display the site name and the page title, which makes the front page title more accurate and descriptive.

Example: CodexM Travel Agency and Tours | About our travel services

You can also just set this to [page-title] if the page title is already accurate and descriptive enough as a home page title.

Before proceeding to the next checked item, do not forget to click “Save.”

Now we’re going to deal with URL Paths.

  • Clean URLs – should already be implemented, just double check.
  • Pathauto module – recommended.
  • Tip: For a shorter URL, use: [title-raw] instead of having: content/[title-raw] as the value under “Default path pattern” in SEO Checklist ==> URL Paths ==> Pathauto module ==> Configure ==> Node Paths ==> Default path pattern.
  • Global Redirect module – should already be implemented.
  • Path redirect module – optional

Next, you’ll need to create search engine accounts. It’s recommended that you get a Google account, to be used for Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. A Yahoo account and Windows Live ID are optional.

After this you’ll reach the "Track Your Visitors" part of the installation. All checked items are recommended for implementation.

The next section is Page Content. Only “HTML purifier” and “Read the install instructions” are recommended; all others are optional. HTML purifier will remove malicious code; it will also make HTML documents standards compliant.

In the Clean Code section, all items are optional.

The next section says "Submit your site to search engines." All items under this section are recommended, particularly generating site maps, verification in Google webmaster tools, etc. Other search engines are recommended also, if you are targeting Bing and Yahoo.

Other recommended items include "Protect your site from spam," as it protects your site from spammers, and "Performance," as it can increase the speed with which your website loads. 

Other optional items include "Social Media," "Geographic," "Optional," and "Extras."

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