Drupal and SEO

Summary

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps websites appear near the top of the search engines duh.  Depending on the nature of the site, you want to appear as high as possible for the relevant terms.  While there are no clear cut secrets to succes, there are alot of best practices to help make your site as search engine friendly as possible.

Ref: Google WebMaster GuideLines

Getting Started

An important first step is to 301 redirect your "http://domain.com" to "http://www.domain.com" website or vice versa.  If you do not, search engines may see the data as two distinct URLs with duplicate content.  Drupal's ".htaccess" file in your installation directory has examples of how to do this.

Enable CleanURLs for Drupal.  Not all search engines properly follow/crawl dynamic URLs (eg. the ?q=blah generated by Drupal).  Open up Administer > Site Configuration > Clean URLs and choose to Enable the CleanURLs.

Adding SEO Modules

Below are some recommended modules to help your Drupal Site with SEO.  Make sure to check for global settings for each module as well as the obvious configuration on the individual node level.

Meta Tags / NodeWords - This module allows you to set some meta tags for each node, view or panels page.  Be precise and specific to include only words and a descriptions appropriate for the page.

XML Sitemap - XML Sitemap automatically creates a site map that conforms to the sitemaps.org specification.  This helps search engines keep their search results up to date.  Note this module is still in "dev" for Drupal6+.

Page Title - This module gives you control over the page title (eg, <title> tag). It gives you the chance to specify patterns for how the title should be structured, and on content creation pages, gives you the chance to specify the page title rather than defaulting to the content's title.

What Now?

A vital part of SEO is the content of course.  You have to have GOOD content.  Not just one or two tidbits, but a collection of content.  A collection that grows and changes.  You need a "following".  People who read, refer, and promote your site and content.  The most important form of all that are Links.  Links from other sites to yours.

We will see how far my own advice gets this site.  Stay tuned.