Drupal SEO - Bare Bones installation - SEO Series - 1

This post is the first in our Drupal SEO series and attempts to give you a reasonably indepth overview of what the different aspects of a standard drupal installation you will need to address for SEO are.


Drupal SEO on a bare bones installation (i.e. no additional modules installed) still needs a fair degree of knowledge if your new to drupal or SEO and can be quite daunting for someone new to SEO and/or Drupal. 

The post is broken down into three sections:

1) Modules and their relevance to Drupal SEO

2) Anatomy of a Blog post from an SEO viewpoint

3) A review of all the admin settings and how they impact SEO 

(Obviously I would never recommend doing a bare bones install as there are some wonderful modules that do loads of the work for you, but I think its important to understand the base your working from.)

Modules and their relevance to Drupal SEO

Aggregator Allows you to quickly fill your site with content from high quality RSS sources, especially useful while you build up your own content, play nice with this and don't abuse it
Blog Blogging is critical to any decent SEO campaign is provides a great source of link bait and tends to be extremely topical which is critical in a competitive space
Blog API The blog API is fantastically useful, a lot of people use something like the performance plug-in to remotely publish content however while this is useful, this api also provides an ideal opportunity for you to create a centralised publishing system (cover this in more detail later in the series) to allow you to do scheduled postings
Book The book module is extremely handy for creating structured content and not having to overly worry about making sure everything links
Color Be careful with the color module as if you inadvertently hide navigation or links by having too light of colours on a light background then you might be at risk of getting hit with a penalty by Google
Comment Comment is great for allowing user generated content, but watch out for spam
Contact Make sure you exclude contact forms via your robots.txt or just show them to authenticated users
Drupal of no significance for seo
Forum Forums are brilliant if handled properly, ensure that they are well structured and that the individual fit into the overall ontology of the site
Help of no significance for seo
Legacy of no significance for seo
Locale Very handy for doing optimisation for multilingual SEO, normal rules apply
Menu Very handy for ensuring that you site is easily navigable by spiders
Path Essential to allow you to provide pretty URLs, this is critical
Ping This is incredibly important, Google works on a principal of first found is the owner, and it takes effort to get ownership of content back, enabling this allows you to tell Google the minute you publish content and thus claim ownership earl
Poll Can be useful for link bait
Profile If you allow users to add profiles then this feature is incredibly important as the more content you allow them to put up the more credibility there profile gets, if your targeting name based optimisation this is a much
Search OK, this can be used to return search results and drive robots deeper into your site, however I would not recommend this if you don't know what your doing as Google has clearly stated they will penalise for returning search results on URLs.
Statistics Critical so you know whats working / not and general stats (obviously better to have a more comprehensive module but will be a separate articles)
Taxonomy Taxonomy is the single most important reason for using Drupal, its only truly useful after extensive keyword research, once you have done your research then create all the logical taxonomies and terms for easy use going forward
Throttle This is both useful and dangerous, if you get it right then you can ensure that you are showing that your site can handle load which is critical to robots, however if you throttle the wrong things then you actually can damage your SEO campaign significantly, my advice is dont use it unless your experienced
Tracker Tracker is very handy for creating additional navigation elements and also provides natural linkbait for users who want to promote their own posts externally
Upload Imagery is becoming increasinly more important as a source of traffic and allowing users to upload images can help gain with traffic from things like google image search


Anatomy of a Blog post from an SEO viewpoint 

Click this image to get a full view, its shows the basic elemnts of a blog post and how they relate to Drupal SEO


Drupal Administation settings from a SEO view.

This section will give some insight into the different settings available under the Drupal Administration section

Administer - Content Management

  • Books admin menu
  • Under Books you will see two options "List" and Orphan Pages", list is not relevant as its just a list of the books, however under Orphan pages its important to make sure that no pages have become ophans search engines like to see nice structured links in and out of pages so make sure that no pages have become ophaned.

  • Categories Admin Menu
  • This section is incredibly important however is driven by your keyword analyis, so as long as it implements the keywords structures as defined in your SEO keyword analysis then you will be fine. You have to really think this part through and make sure that you have taxonomies correctly allocated to types and weighted based on preference, its always a good idea to include a description and help text so that people who are not as familar with the keyword setup dont make silly mistakes.

  • Comment Admin Menu
  • This is really just so that its easier to manage comments by users, its very important that if you do require approval of comments that this section is checked at least daily so that you are not holding up valuable content from being published on the site and so that you dont leave spam on your site. The actual comment settings dont have too much of an impact unless you change the display order (remember the content at the top of the page is seen as the most important) and is pretty much just a best practice excersise outside of not doing silly stuff.

  • Content Admin Menu
  • This is really just an admin function to easy viewing of content in different states.

  • Content Types Menu
  • This is an area where you can really optimise different content types if you want to get into advanced topics, however for a bare bones installation probably best to leave it alone until your more experienced, I will cover this in some depth in a future post. The one area that is however of significance is the default workflow options for each content type and whether or not they are published/promoted etc. review these options and make sure that the defaults suit your purpose but make sure you know the impact of what your changing.

  • Forum Admin Menu

  • This section allows you to setup forums which can be a great source of user generated content, containers and forums should be named and structured inline with your keyword analysis, mostly the default settings here are fine to start with.

  • News Aggregator Menu
  • This section deals with feeds that you are taking from other sites, make sure your categories are based on your keyword research, the only real signifcant area here is the settings menu and in particular the "allowed html tags" make sure that these are sensible and what you want, in most cases the default set will be fine however make sure that if you are adding any additional tags that these are not ones that could be abused against you. Normally you will want to increase the number of items show and mkae sure that the discard is at the longest period available, personally I would not use this module but as were dealing with a bare bones install then its a case of make the most of something that is weak from an SEO viewpoint.

  • Post Settings Menu
  • This is normally fine to leave alone if you dont have a very active site.

  • Rss Publishing
  • This is the part that deals with your outgoing feeds, to be honest this lacks anywhere near the levels of controls I would like but the two that are there are reasonable defautls, always make sure that you dont select Full Text in the "Display of XML feed items" as their is too much danger that someone else will end up owning your content in googles eyes. Items per feed I like to set to the maximum of 30.

  • Search
  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

Administer - Site Building

  • Blocks
  • Blocks allow you to put navigation elements around your site in a structured and unstructured manner. Its completely dependant on you if these fit in with the purpose of the site however you should always remember that google likes links and the more links that you provide to releated content the better your seo will be. For example when viewing a blog post it would almost always to be able to see the "Recent blogs posts" and likewise if in a forum it would make sense to have "active forum topics" and "new forum topics" blocks enabled.

  • Contact form
  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

  • Menu
  • This is reall important as it defines the primary navigation for your entire site, make sure keywords are used heavily in menus and make sure that critical parts of the site are part of the primary navigation.

  • Modules
  • Only relevant in the context of making sure SEO related modules are enabled

  • Themes
  • This is very important in that some themes are better suited to SEO than others, so make sure that you choose a good theme from an seo view that still meets your needs (css based, content at the top etc). Configure the theme options such as site slogan etc. so that it display critical pieces of information

  • URL Aliases
  • This section allows you to customise the urls to be friendly i.e. readly by normal users, be careful here, realise thats its not implmenting a proper redirect and as such can cause your duplicate content issues if your not careful

    Administer - Site configuration

  • Administration Theme
  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

  • Blog APIs
  • This is where you enable remote blogging so that your can use external tools to write and publish content, this is very handy

  • Clean URLS
  • This is essential, make sure you enable this if you want to have a hope of ranking for competitive terms

  • Date and time Menu
  • Ok, if your paranoid (I am) then make sure the date and time settings match your target market not where you are.

  • Distributed authentication
  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

  • Error Reporting

  • Good quality is the trademark of good SEO so make sure that these settings meet your requirements for logging and customise accordingly

  • File System Menu
  • Again, if really really paranoid name the directory using your primary keyword, as it will be linked in the urls of images etc.

  • File uploads
  • Strictly speaking not really an SEO issue however well SEO'd PDF's etc. can be helpful, but depends on circumstance.

  • Image Toolkit
  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

  • Input Formats Menu
  • This allows you to control the input of users, its critical that you get this right for public areas of the site or you could suffer from spam or open up major security issues, if unsure leave it alone.

  • Localization Menu (yep I hate the z as well)
  • Very important for multilingual SEO but too indepth to be covered in this post, so I will cover in a dedicated post

  • Perfromance Menu
  • Mostly this is fine but be careful if your using aggressive caching to make sure you know exactly whats getting cached.

  • Search Settings
  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

  • Site Information
  • This section should be heavily SEO'd, make sure that your messages are well tuned to your target niche and dont keyword stuff

  • Site maintenance menu

  • Customise the message so that you still get some keywords in there, you dont want your site to be down but make sure if it is your still getting something useful across to google et al.

  • Sites Registry Menu
  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

  • Throttle
  • Be very careful in using this that your not showing a lack of information to robots.

    Administer - User management

  • Access Control Menu

  • Loads of room for messing up here, the rule is simple, Search engines = Anonymous User, if you want it to appear in search results then you have to allow anonymous user to access it.

  • Access Rules Menu

  • Use these to ensure that you dont get spammy user names on your site, you dont want to end with with users called cialisviagrapoker or even something that implies that a normal user has some involvement with the company e.g. customerservices.

  • Profiles Menu
  • This allows you to create rich profiles, remember profiles can be considered user generated content and form a good source of linkbait so put some effort in.

  • Roles Menu

  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

  • Search Users Menu

  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

  • Users Menu

  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

  • User Settings Menu
  • Not relevant for Drupal SEO

Administer - Logs

Pretty self explanatory, keep a regular eye on these and deal with issues that show up, remember search engines like good quality i.e. minimal errors


This is an excellent post

This is an excellent post about Drupal seo. I would have to say that search engines, especially google, want a site that has a lot of unique content. Focus on getting great content, and getting backlinks with your anchor text from relevant pages so you know that the seo is being done properly. I have looked at many sites, and most don't have relevant backlinks pointing to their site.

building backlinks

Great ideas. If you really want to build backlinks, though, you should learn how to get it done on autopilot. That's really the only way to get a successful launch. Check out my lens on squidoo to read a report on how to get it done.


Ur explanation was indeed remarkable.