This article looks at the 10 most important SEO related modules for Drupal today. Although there are other modules out there that can contribute to the overall SEO effort, these are arguably the most critical to be kept in mind.
Drupal is a highly optimizable CMS for creating search engine friendly websites. There are a number of good modules out there that make your life much easier when it comes to this. So here we go with 10 awesome ones.
1. Page Title
In the world of SEO, page titles - the
<title> tags - are among the most important, having them highly optimized being therefore crucial. In Drupal, by default, the page title is automatically given by the node.
Page Title let’s you take control over each individual node in determining the content in the
<title> tag. Additionally, you can set different patterns to be used if you choose to automate the page title creation. You cannot pretend to be doing any kind of SEO on a Drupal site without this module.
URLs are another crucial component to be considered in your SEO efforts. In Drupal, this is illustrated by the URL aliasing options that you can find in core. You can use these to make sure that your node URLs actually communicate something to the users and are not just made up by the node ID (like node/35).
But when you are dealing with a large volume of content and not every individual node’s URL must be manually written, you use the Pathauto module. Based on set patterns, this module will automatically - if you want of course - create a friendly version of the node URL. In essence, when you create a node, you can choose to manually set its URL or let Pathauto do its magic.
3. Global Redirect
OK, so you are using aliases for your URLs to get something like this:
www.example.com/some-article-title instead of the default
www.example.com/node/543242. That’s all good but there may be something you are not aware of.
When Drupal creates the alias, it does in fact a duplication. This means that the same node can be now accessed via both URLs. And this is a no no for search engines as they see this as a duplicate piece of content. Enter Global Redirect.
This module fixes this problem by automatically creating 301 (permanent) redirects from the old node path to the aliased one. Now you can see how Drupal starts to become invincible...
As the name suggests, Redirect performs redirects from one URL to another. However, when it comes to Drupal SEO, this module handles something very important linked to the point I made before.
Say you have an aliased node path but you want to change it. However, the URL has been out on the internets for a while and people are visiting your site with it. What happens if you do make the change? Basically either people will end up on a 404 page (not found) or you will have again the problem of content duplication (if you chose to maintain 2 aliases).
With Redirect, you can set to create automatically redirects from the old path to the new one after it was changed. Good for the users, good for the search engines.
5. Meta Tags
Remember how people used to stuff the keyword meta tag to help them with the search engines? Well, the keyword meta tag is not really important anymore. However, the title and description tags are. If you operate locally, maybe even the geo tag can be useful to you.
With the Meta Tags module you can automatically create these meta tags for your nodes based on set criteria. For instance, you can have your node summary act as your description tag and the page title as the title tag. Very handy!
6. XML Sitemap
This is another very helpful one. When doing SEO, you work quite a bit with search engine webmaster tools - like the ones provided by Google, Bing, Yahoo. Helping them as much as you can to index your website’s pages is therefore an important task.
This gets much easier if you use XML Sitemap. The module creates an XML file on your server with links to all the pages on your site. Then, you submit this dynamically updated XML to the search engines so they have a better idea of what your site is made of.
The cool thing is that you have the option of including or excluding various pages or content types from this sitemap when they are created.
8. Site Verification
Before you can do anything with any of these search engine platforms, you need to be able to verify with them that you actually own the site. Now you don’t need any module to do this, but Site Verfication makes things much faster and easier. Especially if you plan to use multiple search engine webmaster software. Check it out.
8. Search 404
Don’t you just hate it when you go onto a website URL and get a 404 error that the page was not found? I do. The Search 404 module performs automatic searches based on the keyword in the URL that caused the 404. So the user experience improves if s/he gets onto a page that does not exist.
9. SEO Compliance Checker
SEO Compliance Checker runs a check after each time you create or edit a node. What it looks for is indicators of how well that particular node is optimized for the search engines. The module can be very useful especially for beginners and it can be further extended by using its API to declare new rules to check for.
10. SEO Checklist
This module provides you with a big checklist of SEO modules you need to install and configure as well as a lot of other measures you should take to optimize your site. No Drupal site should go without this module if it wants to do a good SEO job.
So there you have them. 10 important modules you should keep in mind if you want to do SEO. Normally, you should use most of these modules anyway as the implications of not using them will most likely adversely affect your standing with the search engines as well as users visiting your site.