When building a new website, SEO can sometimes be a bit of an afterthought, coming in after design, user experience, functionality, and a host of other considerations. This is a bit strange really, given that if you’re not getting eyeballs to your site, all the rest of it counts for nothing!
Fortunately, Drupal has a bunch of contributed modules available that can help whip your site into Google-friendly shape. A good place to start is with the SEO checklist module, which provides a huge list of ways to improve your SEO. In fact, it probably lists too many items – if you installed all of the modules it suggests on your site, chances are any SEO benefits would be outweighed by performance penalties and the difficulty of maintaining all the extra code.
Furthermore, there’s no “one size fits all” solution. Appropriate SEO techniques can vary considerably depending on the site’s traffic, whether users can log in or not an a host of other factors. Nevertheless, there are a handful of good practices that should be in place on 90% of Drupal 7 websites.
Getting the metadata right for your page titles and page descriptions is vital, as these are the first things people see of your site on Google and can heavily influence both search prominence and click through rates.
An appropriate URL structure makes a big difference to SEO, in our experience. Install the Pathauto module and make use of the URL patterns to set up sensible URLs for all of your content. If possible, use a hierarchy based on your menu structure. Not only will this improve your SEO, but also your user experience because users will know exactly where they are within a site. Clean URLs, meanwhile, will make your URL query strings nice and readable.
Redirect creates a 301 redirect whenever one of your Drupal nodes URLs change so that the old URL still points to the updated node. Global Redirect helps keep all your 301s organised and performs several other helpful functions. Together, they help negate the possibility of links leading to 404 errors, which both Google and users find irritating, to say the least.
You can use an XML sitemap to ensure that search engines are crawling all of the content that you want them to on your site. Simple and necessary.
Google doesn’t just do text search. Images may help pull in a few more visitors. Also, “alt” tags are necessary to make your site accessible to people using assistive technologies such as screen readers.