Thinking about SEO Search Engine Optimization When Implementing Drupal
Are You Ready to Think About Drupal SEO?
When you are designing a new drupal-based website, you have an opportunity to avoid some potential pitfalls. Of course, for your first drupal website, you probably shouldn't think about SEO at all. Search engine optimization is something to think about after you already have mastered the basics of drupal. Suppose, however, that you already have the basics down (you have selected a theme and been able to create content and administer permissions)- what should you think about as you are implementing a new website, to insure that the search engines like your pages? I advise you to consider these steps, and if possible, to implement them before you go live with your website, rather than waiting to add these features later. Do it in your initial implementation.
Step 1 - Basic Tips for Drupal SEO: URLs
The reason why you want to install pathauto, enable clean URLs, and Global Redirect is to make your URLs search-engine friendly. A Brief Description of URL Structure for SEO. Ron Jones gives a nice, short description of taxonomy, htaccess, and pathauto. For me, the most important of those is pathauto. Taxonomy isn't as vital, but you might consider it if you love tags. Here are some additional tips on configuring pathauto. I also recommend adding a few extra words to the "Strings to Remove" on admin/build/path/pathauto. Here is my list:
a,an,as,at,before,but,by,for,from,is,in,into,like,of,off, on,onto,per,since,than,the,this,that, to,up,via,with,and,is,if,my,his,your
Finally, you should install Global Redirect. On a related note, do not install internationalization (multiple languages) because it is not easily compatible with pathauto; even without pathauto, it is problematic because of duplicated content.
Forums and Forum URLs
On admin/build/path/pathauto, for your forum topics, choose either "forum-topic/[title-raw]" or you could try something like [term] or [term-raw] in place of forum-topic. The goal is to have the words in your URL be as descriptive as possible because a good match will rank higher in SERPs (I believe the analysis of "good match" is done at the time of SERP creation, depending on the user query, not preprocessed). For Forum path settings, use "forum/[cat-raw]" or "cat-raw" or "[catalias]" (I am using cat-raw.) The idea is to make your results attractive to SERP algorithms. Then create your forum categories. Finally, go to admin/build/path and manually improve upon the resulting settings. Try to get forum category URLs with 4-5 informative words in the URL. If for some reason you don't like what you had created, you can go back and change individually, or delete all the aliases for forums, temporarily set conflict action in "general" settings to replace, and then do a Bulk Replace from the forums tab. One example, by the way, of a manual change I made after the bulk creation, is to change "classifieds-anything-sale" to "classifieds". No need to be redundant in the URL (in the title it was ok -- "Classifieds: Anything For Sale"). Another example: the system reduced "Is It Safe" to "it-safe" but I changed it to "safety". If your site is already live when you create your forums, you should put it in offline mode while you are creating the forums. This makes it less likely that google will think your site has duplicate content (search engines sometimes penalize duplicate content, and their algorithms are sometimes unfriendly if you don't put in a 301 redirect).