Staying on top of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a challenge for website owners and operators, but with search engines driving 61% of all web traffic in 2018, it’s a challenge that’s here to stay for the foreseeable future.
That being said, for Drupal 8 administrators and content creators, there is a tremendous amount of help to be gained from this set of mature Drupal SEO modules. In this article, we’re going to highlight our top six Drupal SEO modules to help you attract more organic traffic.
Although it can be easy to forget about the URL bar at the top of your webpage, the contents of it are surprisingly important. The following three modules are figuratively all linked together, properly configured they all work hand in hand to keep the indexed URL at search engines from going stale.
The Pathauto module ensures that your site has keyword-rich URLs that are human-readable and based on the page title, making them as SEO-optimized as they can be. The module automatically generates URL/path aliases for a variety of content (nodes, taxonomy, terms, users) without requiring the user to manually specify the path alias. Creating good paths for your content has numerous benefits, Pathauto adds an entire host of new options as to how you can configure Drupal's paths.
For instance, the “patterns” path gives you the ability to specify what your path looks like for different pieces of content. This module offers a variety of settings to configure exactly what paths you want to generate look like. Another great benefit to Pathauto, is its integration with the Redirect module.
With both the Pathauto and Redirect modules installed, changing the title of your content will not only change the path, but also create a new redirect from the old path.
The Redirect module ensures that a page title change does not only generate a new URL (or leaves the old one, if you so desire), but creates a forwarding redirect so that when Google indexes your site next, it still finds the page and takes note of its new URL.
To maintain the traffic from any deleted or merged page, you would need to create URL redirects manually. With this module, you can create and manage your redirects using just one simple user interface with a defined source and destination. This is important functionality, as it automates what was once an exhausting, ongoing SEO chore.
You can also track 404 errors, using a sub-module, Search404.
As your site grows, new content will be added and old content will be moved or removed. This very commonly leads to links and bookmarks to your site that don’t show valid pages.
Search404 can give site visitors coming in on a stale or invalid link, a useful search page based on the keywords in the URL instead of the standard “404 Page not found”. For a search engine bot, it sends a clearer signal that the indexed link is not here anymore (although admittedly not a definitive 301). Search404 could run a live search based on the keywords a visitor had in the URL, which is a very nice user experience. However, we strongly recommend leaving that option off since a live search is an expensive operation and opens your site to Denial of Service attacks. Giving a visitor a search field in addition to a nicely worded “Page not found” message is a decent compromise. Search404 is a top 100 Drupal module for a very good reason and highly recommended by SEO Checklist to boost your SEO.
Together, these three modules—Pathauto, Redirect, and Search4040—improve the user experience, keep your sitemap accurate, and send very clear signals to search engines, even as your site grows and evolves.
Every website should have a machine-readable sitemap.xml file to guide search engines through the site and expose all possible URLs. Having a solid sitemap gets your content indexed faster, helps Google find every page of your website, and to an extent, makes up for a lack of organic internal linking.
However, not all sitemaps are created equal. In fact, there are some major differences between the traditional XML sitemaps and the sitemaps produced by the Simple_sitemap module.
Simple_sitemap was built specifically with a cleaner codebase to adhere to Drupal 8 standards. It features the batch API, allowing it to generate a larger amount of links without reaching PHP limits. Compared to the two-step process of XML Sitemap, Simple_sitemap is a one-step process, generating the sitemap quicker with fewer errors. Rather than creating a physical file, Simple_sitemap caches the sitemap in the database and still has the ability to set the maximum number of clicks. This gives you the option to create multiple custom sitemap types through sitemap generating plugins.
As of now, Simple_sitemap is the more stable module of the two, especially for Drupal 8. There are very few bug reports and it offers a more performant codebase with more powerful service APIs, this allows the ability to chain tasks like adding custom links and alerting configuration.
The Metatag module is absolutely an essential module for any Drupal site. It covers a lot of ground, from basic title and description tags that search engines will pick up and often use, to display search snippets, to more advanced meta information about your site.
Metatag even optimizes your site’s Open Graph and Twitter tags to make your site look prim and proper when shared on social networks.
6. Schema.org Metatag
As the sister module of Metatag, Schema.org Metatag allows a Drupal site to output structured data in the JSON-LD format. In simple English, this is the module that can help you get star ratings, review counts, pricing info and other coveted extra data into search snippets, so your site can stand out from the competition.
Give SEO the Attention
As previously mentioned, search engine traffic accounts for the vast majority of web traffic. If digital transformation is what you seek, a strong footing across search engines is paramount.
These six Drupal SEO modules will get you on your way to successfully optimizing your Drupal site for Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines.
However, don’t forget that holistic search engine optimization strategy must stretch beyond on-site SEO, as off-site SEO—which includes backlink building, social media presence, and influencer marketing—is arguably more vital.