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Experimenting with Drupal SEO at DrupalCamp Montreal 2018

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SEO / June 28, 2018

Bloom @ DrupalCamp 2018 Recap: A focus on Drupal SEO 

I had the pleasure to attend the Montreal chapter of this year’s DrupalCamp on behalf of Bloom! It was a fun and insightful event during which I had the great opportunity to follow a hands-on training with the Drupal platform. Going there as an SEO analyst, I also took the opportunity to further explore Drupal’s SEO capabilities. Here is a summary of my experience.

What is DrupalCamp?

As you may know, Drupal is an open-source content management system which has been around since January 2000. Given the collaborative nature of the platform, Drupal is renowned for having a well-knit community of users and contributors who often gather both online and offline to exchange, share and collaborate on various projects and topics.

DrupalCamp is a prime example of such events, with many instances of the event held in various cities throughout the year. Organized by the Montreal Drupal Association, the Montreal DrupalCamp event celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. It consisted of a 3-day event which includes a series of conferences, trainings, speakers and various networking events. This year’s event was held at the John Molson School of Business and was mainly sponsored by EvolvingWeb.ca, a Montreal-based web development shop specializing in Drupal.

Training Session: What I learned

The training session was held on Thursday and was available in both English and French and was presented by Suzanne Dergacheva, co-founder and front-end lead at EvolvingWeb. About 25-30 people from various professional backgrounds were in attendance, which made for a focused training session and plenty of opportunities to obtain tailored answers to specific questions asked.

The training first consisted of a presentation of the many additional core features brought on by Drupal 8 such as changes to the WYSIWYG editor, a new interface for multilingual websites, and some additional core modules.

I also learned about the modular nature of Drupal. The CMS comes with some core features included ‘out-of-the-box’. Further functionality is added through what is referred to as modules. Modules are contributed to the Drupal project and can then be downloaded and added to a given website for usage. A good example of a module is the ‘SEO checklist’, a module which serves as a basic check for various SEO tasks such as ensuring you have a title tag, managing your URLs and optimizing for your social links. If you are familiar with WordPress, this is comparable to the Yoast plugin. A phrase mentioned by the instructor is that for whatever functionality you may require for your Drupal site: “There’s a module for that”.

The training also incorporated a hands-on tutorial during which we were able to explore the Drupal platform on our own. We learned how to add and manage pieces of content which are referred to as ‘nodes’, how to create and customize content blocks within a page and how to manage user roles and permissions. These ideas of modules and nodes are part of what makes Drupal a highly customizable CMS. The practical portion of the training allowed us to put apply the theory we were presented and allowed us to get a feel for the platform, which I really appreciated.

Drupal x SEO

As previously mentioned, I had a particular interest in the way SEO is implemented with Drupal and came with a list of basic considerations to take into account. For SEO in particular, the selection of modules is quite extensive.

For example, does Drupal handle multilingual sites properly? I learned that the platform thankfully allows you to treat multilingual sites either as separate subdomains or subdirectories.

To help prevent and identify cases of duplicate content as well as clean potentially duplicated URLs, the ‘Global Redirect’ module is the perfect tool for monitoring.

Proper tracking setup is, of course, a crucial element of any website and is a consideration that goes beyond SEO. The good news is that there is a dedicated Google Analytics module for the main SEO purposes. In addition to the many available contributed modules, Drupal also supports common integrations through API. If you currently have or are thinking of having a site running on Drupal it is extremely important to understand how to integrate SEO.

There is one thing to remember, however, and this applies to all CMS SEO tools out there: these are tools to aid the implementation of SEO strategies and best practices but they are not designed to do the job for you. It is crucial to first have an established SEO strategy and related action items and second, understand how to leverage the available modules to implement the strategies to then optimize your site.

What’s next for Bloom and Drupal 

Overall, I had a great experience at this event. The training portion was quite useful in covering the essentials of the CMS and I came out of the training with a good foundation of Drupal and it’s particularities. Our team is already taking these learnings to further develop our Drupal SEO arsenal of knowledge. Bloom emphasizes the importance of having an SEO team that, in addition to offering current, top of the line SEO services, also understands the intricacies specific to the various content management systems available out there. Learn more about how to optimize your website for better rankings by contacting Bloom today.

Link to other SEO articles: https://makeitbloom.wpengine.com/?s=seo

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Minyel Sao

SEO Analyst @ Bloom

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