Search Engine Optimization (SEO) might not be the first thing you think of when designing a new website, but building an optimized framework from the start will help you drive traffic to your site and keep it there.
With our Drupal SEO-checklist in hand, you can build an excellent website that draws customers from launch day. Briefly speaking, here is a bullet list of what to check before the launch day. Below we’ll speak at each point in more detail.
Check that all web pages have unique titles using the Page Title module
Check if XML Sitemap and Google News Sitemap are configured properly
Check if Redirect module is enabled and configured
Check if Global Redirect module is enabled and configured
Check that .htaccess redirect to site with/without www
Check that the homepage title includes a slogan, and is descriptive for the function of the site
Check if Meta Tags is filled with descriptive information
Check that OG tags are filled correctly and with descriptive information.
Check if site's information appears well when shared on Facebook
Check if Path aliases patterns are meaningful
Check if Google Analytics is enabled and configured
Check if Page Title module is enabled and configured
Check if Google News Sitemap is enabled and configured
Check if Site verification is enabled and configured
Check if Search 404 module is enabled and configured
All of your pages should be easily identifiable to the end user. Not only should they have unique titles, they should have meaningful titles.
Having multiple pages with the same titles (like “Get in touch”, “Contact us” and “Make a booking”) will simply confuse your end users and search engine crawlers.
Not only do good page titles help customers who are already on your site, but they help with social sharing, and picking your site out of search engine results.
Titles are the first element that any user will see, whether they come directly to your site, find it in a search engine, or see it shared on social media.
Writing good titles is extremely important, and having keywords in your title that match a user's search greatly improves the chances of them clicking on your page.
Ensuring all your pages have a unique name will help users navigate, boost your SEO ratings, and increase the chances that someone will type the right keywords into a search engine to bring them to your site.
You can set up unique page titles much easier if you install the Drupal Page Title module.
The XML Sitemap module creates a robot-friendly map of your site that Google and other search engines can crawl to categorize your website.
There are a few settings you can alter your site at admin/config/search/XML sitemap and you can view the sitemap from http://yoursite.com/sitemap.xml.
You should configure XML Sitemap early in your site build for the best effect, but you can also alter the settings later on if needed.
Google News Sitemap offers a similar but different service that creates a Google-specific map - as suggested in the name. These two modules work nicely side by side to make your site easy for search engines to crawl and index.
Please note that if your site contains AMPs, there is no need to create sitemaps for them. The rel=amphtml link is enough for Google to pick up on the accelerated mobile page version, which means you can easily gain traffic from Top Storie's carousels and mobile search. Creating AMP on your Drupal site became easy with our step-by-step guide.
Redirect is a handy module for making sure users always make it to your site. It uses case-insensitive matching to help catch broken links with redirects and tracks how often users are hitting those redirects.
You can use redirects to capture any broken links, set up promotional links, or simply capture typos users are entering when trying to access your site.
If you’re using Drupal 8 you can skip this one because the functionality has been rolled into the redirect module. Otherwise, install Global Redirect to work in tandem with Redirect to catch any broken links.
Global Redirect will test all links with and without a trailing slash, ensure links are case-insensitive and if a link is truly broken it will return a user to your home page, rather than an ugly 404 page that decreases the position of your site in SERPs.
Some users attempting to visit your site will navigate to www.yoursite.com, while others will simply type yoursite.com. By setting up your site to handle either request you can be sure you won’t miss any visitors.
The headline, as well as the slogan, represent who you are as a business. Make your first impression a good one as this will also be visible on search engines.
This is a good opportunity to stack your website with SEO friendly keywords, but don’t go overboard and sacrifice your image for it - keyword stuffing may not only decrease the trust index of your site but also its conversion rates.
Writing SEO-optimized metatags is highly important because they remain one of the top on-page ranking factors. Make sure to install the Metatag module on your site to have an easy, user-friendly interface for updating metadata.
With the module installed you can easily populate metadata with keywords, page descriptions, and more.
The Meta tag module will also give you extra control over how your site appears when shared on Twitter or Facebook.
Read more: SEO tips for your Drupal site
OG tags are meta tags specifically designed to ensure your site communicates nicely with Facebook. By setting these tags correctly you will be able to control exactly how your site appears on Facebook, including what images and what taglines are used.
After configuring the metatag module and OG tags, pop over to Facebook and make sure that your site shares the way you would like it too. It’s important to test this out now before users start sharing your site around.
Similarly, try tweeting a couple of your pages to see how well your Twitter Cards come through. If you don’t want to show your site to your audience until you are sure it is set up properly, you can check Twitter Cards using the Card Validator.
For more information on configuring Twitter cards, check out the Twitter user guides.
By default, Drupal will set your URLs to node/123 - while this works great for the database backend, it doesn’t work well for your end users, or for search engines.
You can use the Pathauto module to create rules and patterns for your URLs that will significantly cut down on your maintenance times and simplify your site navigation.
While having Google Analytics configured won’t improve your SEO, it will give you all the data you need to understand where your users are coming from and how they behave once they hit your site.
Installing the Google Analytics module makes setting up and configuring Google Analytics a breeze.
The Site verification module makes it easy to check the boxes that tell search engines that your site is truly yours.
Having your site verified will improve how search engines crawl your site, and for Google will allow you to access private search data. With site verification, you will receive better data and better search engine rankings for just a few minutes work.
The Search 404 module is a saving grace for reducing your bounce rate, your SEO and improving your customer experience. Instead of your users finding an ‘Error: Page not Found” in place of the content they were hoping for, they will be offered a search of your site based on the URL string.
For example, if “www.yoursite.com/great-seo-tips” doesn’t exist, use this module will automatically search your site for ‘Great SEO tips” and show the users the results.
While SEO may seem like a tricky subject to wrap your head around, the basics are easy with the right modules and the right guidance. Drupal is a great content management system for building search engine optimized websites.
With our SEO checklist you can get off on the right foot, and here at Vardot we love educating our customers to build top quality websites. If you’re looking for even more ways to improve your sites SEO, have a look at SEO articles on our blog or get in touch with us.