How do you strike a balance between the hard-to-resist-to-temptation of turning your (or your client's) Drupal website into a powerful “SEO machine” and risking to “exhaust” your server with way too many SEO modules and tools (some of them) overusing its resources? Speed (still) is a crucial ranking-influencing factor, but on the other hand Drupal's modules, the SEO-oriented ones in this case, are a “blessing” for any web developer, SEO specialist or website owner. Now let me point out to you which are the truly essential Drupal SEO modules that you should install on your website:
If there's a module for it, it doesn't mean that you should just rush in to install it and enable it on your website!
Do keep my first advice in mind as you're optimizing your Drupal website with an “ecosystem” of SEO-oriented modules! Less still is more, you know!
Equip (and therefore wisely use some of its resources) your Drupal site with just those utterly-effective, “cant' make it without in the highly competitive digital landscape”, bare essential Drupal SEO modules!
And keep in mind that you can always boost their “power” with that of off-site SEO tools that you could complete your strategy with (various keyword tools, Google Search Console, Screaming Frog Log File Analyser etc.).But let's get back on track now!
I've promised you at the beginning of this post that I would share with you my own list of “bare essential” SEO modules that you should install on your website and since I'm a man of work, here they are:1. Pathauto
Just put yourself into your website visitors' shoes! Does a “/node/92” link suggest you anything, whatsoever, about the soon to be accessed web page's content?
Now, consider search engines “trying” to parse through and to “decipher” what your website is about. How “enlighttening” could a whole ecosystem of “/node/92” links could be for them?
So, I think you've got my point!
You need both user-friendly and search engine-friendly link aliases if you want to make it in a competitive market! And Pathauto is the module that will automatically generate them for you and thus "turbocharge" your Drupal SEO strategy. Nice and easy!
And for various types of content!
It will turn your “/node/93 type of “hostile” links into far more “welcoming” and user-intuitive /category/my-node-title” type of links. As if by magic!
And all that without you having to specify the path alias manually!
Think of yourself, too: it will instantly streamline your Google Analytics monitoring and analyzing work, since you'll be able to tell what the content on the target pages on your website are about, right?
2. Google Analytics
Drupal couldn't have possibly “overlooked” developing a corresponding module for THE most popular web statistics service!
So, here you have it: the Google Analytics module, probably the very first one that you should “equip” your Drupal website with!
It just calls for a Google Analytics account, an easy module installation process and that's it! You'll get to enjoy all the data tracking, content/traffic monitoring and relevant issued reports analyzing! No Drupal developer could imagine skipping the installation of this "star" Drupal SEO module on the websites they build, right?
Where do you add that you don't need to copy and paste the tracking code on each and every page on your website that you're planning to “keep a close eye on”.
Simply paste it in your Google Analytics module's configuration page interface!
And that's all!
Then it's up to your “expertise” for turning all the data that you'll collect and all the insights, into “fuel” for your website's growth!3. Metatag, A "Handy" Drupal SEO Module
Get your website as accessible (for those spiders to easily crawl in and to run their “inspections”) and as easy to “interpret” (by search engines) as possible!In this respect, in addition to the intuitive URL aliases that your Pathauto module automatically generates for you, consider “describing” the content on your site for search engines, as well!
And since the “metalanguage”, made of metatags, is the language that they “understand” best, the Metatag module comes in handy.
It allows you to add tags to your content: title tags, meta description, meta keyords, canonical URLs etc.
By far the one with the highest impact on your ranking is the title tag, that this module generate automatically ( if you have no SEO specialist in your team or content writer/copywriter to put them manually on each web page).
What's more to add? Well, I could still go on describing you other benefits that you can enjoy using this module: it's easily customizable and it “spoils” you with a multilingual support, too.
4. Search 404
SEO is not just about gaining more traffic, but about finding the right “patch” for all the traffic “leaks” on your website, don't you agree?
In this respect, the 404 page sure is a major “traffic killer”!
And here is where Drupal's Search 404 module comes to “save the day” (or “your traffic from going away”).
What it does precisely is to perform a search on the keywords of an URL (the one opening up a “404” page otherwise) and display the result of that keywords search instead of the “discouraging” 404 page.
It's a more than useful module especially if you're dealing with a heavy-content website, with a proportionally high risk of broken links, too.
Once your users “run the risk” of landing on an non-existing page on your website, this module “intervenes”: it redirects them, performing a search, right on the search page, based on the keywords included in the broken URL. Got it?5. XML Sitemap
Here's another key “ingredient” to the “magic recipe” that you need to master for getting your Drupal website “inviting” and “welcoming” enough for search engines' bots to... crawl it and to easily interpret it: XML sitemaps!
Drupal's correspondig module will automatically create an XML sitemap for each page on your site (by following the settings that you'll define) and “deliver” it to search engines. Such a handy Drupal SEO tool!
And there's more:
- search engines will always get the latest version of your website (the module helps you “inform” them about each page added to or removed from your website)
- the XML sitemap module incorporates other handy sub-modules, too, allowing you to add menu items, links, taxonomy terms and even user profiles to your sitemaps
- each content type is handled individually on its content type edit page, allowing you to put together your own “hierarchy of priority”: to prioritize (for instance) your article nodes, compared to your “common” page nodes
6. SEO Checklist
This module is your best ally to rely on and to boost your on-page optimization efforts with! It will turn them into a hassle-free, streamlined and nonetheless efficient workflow!
How does it work?
The module runs an SEO check on your website and comes up with a whole functional list of SEO tasks for you to complete (it lets you know whether you've uses your focus keyword enough times, if you should optimize your page title, if there are no links inserted in your content etc.).
Moreover, the module helps you keep track of the “issues” that you've solved, signaling you which are the ones that still need to be solved. With a data and time stamp attached to each “task”, and reports that the module provides you with, it allows you to keep record of your whole on-page optimization plan's evolution.
Take this module as one that “cleans up” after you!
The one that finds and removes all the duplicate content on your website.
How does it manage to do that?
Through the checks that it runs on your Drupal website:
- it checks the access to your private URLs, thus making sure that they're easily accessible
- it checks your current URLs for aliases (eventually redirecting them if they're not being used)
- it removes trailing slashes
This is my own list of “bare essentials”, of Drupal SEO modules that I “supercharge” my (and my clients') websites with.
Now before I end this blog post (which is already getting longer than I planned it to be), allow me to give you one last piece of advice: don't rely exclusively on “wonder” Drupal SEO modules for carrying out your optimization strategy!
Remember that high quality content still “rules the digital kingdom” and that you should never underestimate the importance of external links coming from “authority” websites in your niche!