Drupal (6.20) is my favorite CMS technology (see this site). It took me however a while to get my act together in order to maximize the visibility of a Drupal site for search engines. It takes at least two extra modules.
The good news: Drupal seems to generate high quality html. W3C validators provide high scores for Drupal generated html without any extra work.
XML Site Map
Search engines expect to find a site map in XML format. This simplifies their indexing work and the site is more likely to be found through search queries. Drupal isn't offering support by default. Here's what it takes to get one:
- Install module XML sitemap
- search engines to submit to
- interval to resubmit site map
Some search engines don't like to be provided with a new site map every day. Pick an appropriate frequency.
Consider to register your site with the Google web master tools and ask Google to track your site map as well.
Search engines like to use meta tags to classify the pages of your site. Drupal needs an extra module to get this feature. It's the node-word module. The steps to enable meta tags on your site are:
- Install module Nodewords
- I enabled the "Nodewords" module and the "Nodewords-basic meta tags" module
- I enabled the categories Description, Keywords, Robots
- I enabled automatic generation when no input is provided
Front Page Meta Tags
Some SEO rating tools seem to analyze the front page of a web site and rate it based on the available meta tags. A default Drupal site will not look good since they don't have them.
The Drupal front page is however special. It's not a regular node and it's meta tags can't be set in the edit mode for nodes. It takes the "meta tag"->"default and specific meta tags"->"front page" configuration page to get this done.
I consider this setup page to be a kind of hidden and difficult to find. I'm however a person without any formal, nor complete back ground about Drupal.
- SEODrupal: The Search Engine Optimization Resource
- SEO Checklist (A Drupal module)
- Basic Drupal Tutorial
The settings above have been found through trial and error. They seem to be a reasonable starter configuration. This site (scalingbits.com) draws most of the readers from Google queries due to it's technical content. RSS feeds from the blog draw a fewer number of readers. Meta tags and xml site maps make a difference.
The actions recommended above helped to:
- improve Google query ranking and traffic
- improved the speed which pages are getting indexed by Google
- improved the rating from a number of SEO tools
- The Alexa ranking went up (This may be a placebo effect)
The XML site map configuration is a one time effort. Attributing every page with key words and a description is permanent effort.
Drupal offers lots of extra modules in this domain. The modules used above are working stable in my context. Feel free to provide feed back and extra hints through the form below.