How Not To Screw Up SEO and User Friendly URLs In Drupal
If you use Drupal you most likely want to make sure your URLs are SEO friendly. The problem is that Drupal makes it very easy to screw this up. Forget to get everything right and you can be left with URLs containing odd characters or worse yet, simply be a node number.
While these mistakes alone won't prevent your site from ranking in Google, they can make it more difficult to rank well and more importantly make for a bad user experience. I'm Ian Wright from Expert Market and I've made pretty much every Drupal mistake under the sun. I'll show you step-by-step how not screw up your URLs.
Out of the box Drupal makes it very easy to screw up your URLs. If you write an article and forget to fill in the URL path settings you'll end up with a URL like the one below:
All content on Drupal is assigned a node ID when created. However, it can also have an alias which redirects to the node and makes the URL better for both the user and SEO. To do this you have to make sure you fill in the URL path settings:
This will make your URL both user and search engine friendly:
However, you still have to be a little bit careful when you change the URL path settings if you're using any sort of SEO plug-in that creates a canonical URL. If you create/change the alias, you also have to update the canonical URL setting.
So we change
So as you can see pretty easy, right? No need for a complicated guide, but won't it be great if there was a way to do all that without having to remember to do it every time? Well the good news is that there is, the bad news is that it has its own set of issues.
What many Drupal users choose to do is to auto alias URLs based on page titles, using Pathauto. This turns clunky node IDs into "perfect" SEO urls almost effortlessly. There's only one slight problem. If you use Pathauto to auto alias your node IDs, it will use all characters, including special characters, to create the ID.
So for example if this is your URL:
It will show as http://blog.theecoexperts.co.uk/uk-paying-%C2%A3125m-into-eu-nuclear-scheme when copied. Google can still read this URL but it may display oddly in the SERPs like it does above. Moreover, try telling someone how to enter the URL above into their browser and see what their reaction is.
So once again we are in the same boat we were in before. Basically, you need to go and manually change the alias to remove all characters except English letters (both upper and lower cases are fine) and numbers. This includes letters with accents.
will be rendered as http://fontainesaeau.expertmarket.fr/acheter-des-fontaines-%C3%A0-eau, not the most beautiful URL.
Also, remember if you do change the alias you also have to change the canonical URL section just like you had to do in the example above. That's it. Unlike Wordpress, Drupal does not make aliasing easy or simple. You always have to be careful to avoid creating node URLs and/or URLs with odd characters that won't look good when displayed in SERPs or to users. The only solution is to be careful and pay attention.