Want to learn the ways to get a better search ranking with Drupal 8?
Good, because we’re going to show you how to do it immediately!
We’re not going to breeze over a few community modules and tell you to go figure it out, we’re going to present some simple practical advice that you can put into the creation and curation of your content right away.
Title, Title, Title
The title of your page is very important, so here’s a tip. What I want you to do is open up a Google search and type this: “writing better articles” The first thing you should notice on the first page of results is that nearly all of the page titles begin with a numeral i.e. “7 best practices”, “5 ways to improve”, “6 simple steps to”, “8 articles that”.
I’m sure you’ve seen these sorts of articles before when searching for guides, tutorials, alternatives, tech tips etc
The reason for this is because practical articles tend to do better than ones that are not practical; articles you can visit and scroll down to get the advice you can use right away. This doesn’t mean you need to have a numeric title, but offering a clear and concise title that suggests practical advice, will often yield better results than not. So be mindful of this when selecting your title.
The title should also contain the targeted keyword, which leads us onto our next step.
the first 100 words
The first 100 words on your page should contain the keyword, scroll up to the top of this article and you will see right away, on the very first line, that the keyword within the title is actually contained on the first line of the intro: “better search ranking with Drupal 8”. Keeping the main keyword within that first 100 words of text is a great way to improve your search rankings.
According to this blog post over at Alexa. Having one primary keyword is important for ranking success. As mentioned previously, you should aspire to make sure your primary keyword is contained within the article, the first 100 words would be the best spot for it.
Keeping a reasonable level of complexity for the primary keyword can aid in better ranking. So a primary keyword of “drinking beer with friends” is a lot better than a primary keyword of just “beer”.
LSI Keywords are supporting keywords that are related to the primary keyword. They’re useful because they can assist in locating the article or page when people are entering terms that may not match but could be linked in some way.
One cool tool you could try using to search for some additional keywords would be to use this generator over at LSI Graph
Another awesome tool you could use to get some keywords for your site would be trying out Ubersuggest created by Neil Patel. The tool contains all sorts of metrics to aid in selection.
Remove the clutter, break up your text into more paragraphs, make them stand out. Line spacing and judicious use of paragraphs will help readability and keep people reading more and keep them on the page for longer, which leads us onto our next bit of advice…
The amount of time people actually spend on your pages says a lot about your content. Sure you may have a ton of content, but how good is it?
Which do you think is better; a user spending 2 seconds on your page before bounding, or a minute, or 5 minutes? The longer they’re on the page, the more likely they’re taking in your content and not going back to the search engine to look for something better.
Check out this 2011 blog post from Bing which coined the term Dwell Time.
Did you see what I just did in the previous example, in the dwell time section? I linked out to an external blog page. One of the benefits of this is when a search engine crawls your page, it wants to know if your page has authority by citing references. Well, kind of at least, there’s more to it than that, but this great article will help explain it better.
Keeping a shorter and more comprehensive URL structure is another great way to improve your SEO rankings, check out this article at Search Engine Journal
By keeping URLs shorter, removing clutter and including keywords we can ensure that we are optimizing our pages better and maximizing our SEO potentials.
For example, which URL do you think is better for this article?
The latter examples shed unnecessary fill words and are much friendlier to read, they also leverage the use of main keywords.
With the Pathauto module in Drupal 8 we can easily create patterns when generating new content, and while this is excellent and we recommend Pathauto for use on the site, this doesn’t mean you should just hit publish every single time assuming your pattern is going to work magic.
Instead what we recommend is to still examine the URL preview that will be generated when publishing or creating a draft and making a judgement call as to whether or not you feel it is generating an SEO friendly URL, because although it may be prefixed with the relevant content type and category, simply placing the title alone at the end won’t guarantee you’ll have the friendliest URL for your site.
Zombie pages and stale content
What’s a zombie page you say? Google lowers SEO ranking based on excessive page count and pages that don’t really provide any value. Sites that tend to publish less, but work more on the quality of the content, rather than those that tend to churn content out all the time, tend to do better. Have a ton of old blog posts from 2008 lying around? Maybe it’s time to curate some of them and see which ones you’re willing to let go. Maybe you have a ton of links up in the main navigation that just leads off to all other sorts of places, or you have links to tons of products that rarely ever get attention.
Having over 60K+ indexed pages isn’t something to be proud of, even lowering this number down to below 10K can have a much better impact if it’s concise and focused. Some things just don’t need to be indexed. So don’t be afraid to delete, or unpublish or add a no index to a page or piece of content.
This article over at white spark is an interesting read to find out more.
Short articles vs long articles
Check out this article by Bran Dead over at backlinkio.com, he claims that in a study conducted against 1,000,000 Google Search results, articles or pages that had an average of 1890 words ranked higher than those with less. A minimum of at least 300+ words should be written though however or else Google might penalize the content.
This same article also claims...
Don’t clutter your page with images
Pages with one image tend to do better than pages with none, or pages with lots. Unless you’re providing examples with screenshots, or presenting a product or project piece where images will be relevant and aesthetically placed, filling up your pages with stock on seemingly unrelated images isn’t really doing anything to boost your ranking and may actually be holding the content back in the long run.
Site loading speed
According to this article over at moz.com, page loading speed can have an effect on your SEO rating. Pages that are slow to load will impact a search engines ability to crawl it, and also increase user bounce rate.
A few ways that you could mitigate this in Drupal would be to:
Enable site caching and on blocks and views.
Enable JS/CSS compression.
Optimize images and leverage image styles
Offload images to a CDN
If you have duplicate or very similar content on your site, you should be setting canonical URLs for it. Visit this article from google for a more in-depth guide.
Essentially this will save Google time when crawling the site and won’t impact your SEO rankings. So if you have some questionably similar pages or perhaps duplicate titles, then you should be setting these. Fortunately, with the Metatag module, you can do this quite easily. We believe every Drupal 8 site should be using this module to manage metadata.