Anyone who has done any work on websites knows that search engine optimization (SEO) is vital to building an audience. The reason behind this is simple, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. So if the search engines aren't returning your site in the top of the results page there is a good likelihood that you are missing out on a great deal of visitors. This means that every web designer needs to be familiar with SEO practices to help their sites, or those of their clients, gain as much exposure as possible; even those who work with content management frameworks like Drupal.
Applications like Drupal allow people to build great sites with a wealth of features in a short amount of time. However because Drupal is used for so many different types of websites, the nature of this application makes it less than friendly to the search engines right out of the box. The designer, or site administrator, needs to take the time to configure the application and the content to maximize its SEO.
Before doing anything else you need to enable search engine friendly URLs. This can b done when installing Drupal, but if they were not enabled at that time it can be done by going to Modules (/admin/build/modules) and enable the Path module. This will turn something like /node?q=1 to /node/1 which the search engines like much more.
Once the URLs are fixed its time to redirect the www or non-www pages, for example http://www.example-site.com and http://example-site.com. What happens is the search engines treat these as two separate sites so when they are crawled it looks as if the content is duplicated. Redirecting requires you to choose one method, either using the www subdomain or not, and then going into the .htaccess file to make some changes which are detailed here.
One of the things that makes Drupal so easy to use is that site administrators can install modules to enhance the functionality of their website. Some of these modules work to help your site with SEO:
While installing modules and making tweaks to Drupal's files will assist in the optimization of a website, the most important aspect of SEO is still the content. A site needs to have fresh content that is not duplicated, it needs to attract shares from social media accounts and links from high-value websites, it needs to engage readers so they spend time on the page and it should incorporate images and multimedia. There are no modules or hacks that can handle this part, it is all up to the site administrator to fill the pages with content worth the visitor's time.
Search engine optimization techniques change frequently, but the techniques covered here aren't addressing the latest trends or fads. Each of them cover best practices that have been helping sites running Drupal rank for years, and they should continue to do so in the future as well.
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