Drupal SEO: The Intersection of Tech and Marketing
by Ben Finklea Finklea
Many a well-formed Drupal site has been hacked to pieces by an "evil" Drupal-ignorant marketing agency. "Why? In heavens name, WHY?!" the developer cries as title tags are embedded into theme files, analyticscode is dropped into footer blocks, and mal-formed content is pastedinto node bodies. Devastated, they choke back the bitter taste of tears that only a quad-espresso from the Pasquini Livia in the kitchen could wash away.
OK, I'm exaggerating a little...not even espresso could wash those tears away.
What's sad is that I hear this story from my developer friends all the time. They built a fab Drupal site only to have it munged by some well meaning idiot at a third party SEO firm. Yet everyone knows that Drupal is the best platform on the planet for SEO. So, what gives? If Drupal is so great, why are so many sites in jeopardy?
I think the disconnect is that while Drupal is awesome at SEO, it's still a highly technical system that has a significant learning curve. Drupal 7 was a significant step in flattening that curve but there is an enormous amount to learn. Consider also that Drupal is only one part of the marketing equation. To unlock the true power of Drupal SEO, you need three things:
- insights into how your site is going to be perceived by your audience (that's marketing),
- an intimate understanding of how Drupal works (that's the technical stuff), and
- a good idea of what's important to Google when they visit (both technical and marketing).
Now, I'm the first to admit that I'm not a developer. In fact, nobody on my SEO team is. However, it is really important for excellent Drupal SEO types to understand all three pieces. Drupal SEO sits at the intersection of Drupal tech and Drupal marketing.
For example, the CEO might say something like "I need a page on our web site that shows the right products for the big announcement of our entry into the healthcare vertical." Marketing hears "We're selling into healthcare so we need to tell them why our products are the best with reviews and comments from our ecommerce site. Oh, and we need a lead form." A good Drupal tech hears "Views 3, maybe Views Attach, and
a Form and we need to tell Acquia beef up our server". [shameless self promotion]
A Drupal SEO has to consider all of these things. Plus, "What keywords would a healthcare professional type into Google to find this type of product? How are we going to configure Views to show those keywords to Google? Are we collecting leads using Webform or CCK? How many fields is the form going to have and where is the thank you page going to direct them? Are we using Website Optimizer or some other form of A/B testing? Did we set up the Google Analytics module to track all this? Let's consider the Google Analytics Tokenizer Module to show where the leads are coming from. Who's writing the content for this anyway?"...and on and on.
So, before you construct your next Drupal site, stop and think about SEO just for a bit. It may not be as simple as you think but done well, an excellent Drupal SEO partner can help you win the day.
Stay tuned for my next blog post where I'll talk about reinforcing your Drupal investment with marketing results.
Ben Finklea, CEO