Risky Website Redesigns and Tanking Organic Traffic

Tanking Organic Traffic after a Website Redesign: Why Evolutionary Redesigns are Optimal

People buy based on emotion. A redesign can be a sexy idea, sold to you by a creative agency that knows how to wow and amaze. But, it's rarely in your best interests. Sure, sometimes you reach a point where things are so bad that you have to scrap everything and start over...but how do you know how bad is too bad?

Radical website redesigns are modern-day one-night stands for marketers.

The following graphs show what happened to a new client of ours earlier this year when their previous vendor launched their radical redesign.

Organic SEO traffic tanking after website redesign

Here's another view from SEMrush, based on number of ranking organic keywords, for mobile devices (site launched in late April): 

Another view of website SEO traffic tanking after website redesign

Organic traffic (SEO) was already declining. The client surely panicked, the older site was indeed quite outdated, and yes, they panicked with good reason. It's hard to stay calm in the face of tanking traffic. Panicking, and going to a vendor who played into that panic, was part of the pitfall.

The creAtìve AgénCy elixir surely tasted good in the moment, and scrapping that outdated site surely felt like the right thing to do...but this radical act under pressure actually did more harm than good.

The agency they chose not only massacred our client's business by improperly handling post-launch SEO planning, they created a broken user experience that is impacting commerce on the site, not to mention that the information architecture and navigation are botched, the value proposition is unclear and in bits and pieces around the entire site, and user engagement is deeply impacted by all of this as well as a slow-loading site and a fancy but not performant inter-page browsing experience that has to be devastating to conversions.  

The new website is pretty, but it's not doing anything. It should be working hard for the client's business, but it's not.

Yes, it is possible to do revolutionary redesigns right. But, it's hard, and requires a lot more data than most are willing to wait for and collect. And even then, you're still gambling, depending on how revolutionary you are with the extremely sensitive components of the redesign (navigation, expected user journeys, calls to action, microcopy, content, keywords, visual hierarchy, and the like).

How many times have you seen radical redesigns on Amazon.com? 

You don't see them, because they do evolutionary redesigns – continuous, incremental improvements along the way.

Evolutionary website redesign

Image source

If you're feeling like sexy will win, it's an urgent need, and will appease your management team, then just reskin what you have as a first step. Design is incredibly important in instilling trust, and yes, good design – no, great design – is extremely important. It effects conversions and website engagement, and thus your business profits. Then, make incremental improvements from there.

Another way to think of it visually is this:

Origin Eight approach to continuous incremental improvement

This is a good cost/benefit results visualization of the concept as well: 

Origin Eight approach to continuous incremental improvement

This is difficult stuff to grasp, but indeed a very powerful concept. We coined the term Digital Impact Optimization™ for this idea that "incremental improvements can lead to exponential demand", and also the idea that "redesigns don't have to suck, especially if you consistently keep up your optimization game" – but the following is also true:

Incremental improvements can save you from exponential losses.

It's not a new concept in its entirety, but how we incorporate it into a full-picture offering and analysis is. Here's a diagram of how we see it:

Digital Impact Optimization

 

Learn more about Our Approach

 

 

Lean Thinking Applied to Digital Marketing Agencies: Article #1

Lean Thinking Applied to Digital Marketing Agencies: Article #1

The core idea behind lean thinking is maximizing customer value while minimizing waste, or creating more value for customers with fewer resources. It comes from the manufacturing industry in the early 20th century, stemming from Toyota's innovations (who borrowed from Ford's first attempts), but is now applied to many industries worldwide. Check out lean.org for more information.  

The key starting point here is value. In the context of digital marketing, what does "value" mean to each customer? It varies greatly. To extend this metaphor, the digital agency is the "producer", and the client is the "consumer." As an agency focused on lean thinking, the first step with any new prospect or customer is a conscious attempt at precisely defining value in terms of specific products or services with specific capabilities offered at specific pricing structures, stemming from specific conversations with individuals. 

Producers tend to continue producing what they are already making, and consumers tend to ask for products they are already getting. Consumers understand "SEO", and know that's a good thing, but it's only a small part of the digital marketing ecosystem. What happens if that SEO traffic lands on a website that is not optimized for conversions, i.e. a website that is optimized to convert visitors into customers, or, more generally, to take any valuable action on the website? If the website is not optimized, or, even worse, if it simply is not built or designed to play a valuable role in the organization's sales process, all the SEO traffic in the world is not going to bring value. Thus, we as digital marketing agencies must precisely define value for each client as a first step in becoming lean.

Another lean concept is waste reduction. One area of waste that we see are agencies that offer a small slice of the digital marketing pie, such as "SEO", or "web design" without full-picture services. Each agency may eliminate waste internally as part of their process, but that does not mean they are eliminating waste for the client. We've seen clients with ten different vendors all doing a small slice of the digital marketing, and nobody is able to get anything done or have vision and guidance over the entire picture, because there is no thought leader, no process leader, no lead waste minimizer and advocate for the client. We've arrived at new clients who have just fired all vendors, and the entire marketing team, and just started over. 

We've also worked with clients as the sole web and digital marketing agency who have a relationship with another highly-specialized agency, say in SEO, who have created waste by interfering with the web design and development process, even offering to own part of the process. When ownership of something as complex as a website redesign is split into multiple parties, waste abounds. A thorough content strategy, user experience design, information architecture and design, among other strategic phases, really should be owned by a single agency, otherwise fragmentation and waste are almost always introduced into the equation. 

To be continued. Lean concepts of "flow", "pull" and "perfection" will be covered in a future article.

Drupal SEO Series: Increase Your Conversion Rates With These Pro Marketing Tips

Drupal SEO Series

Now that more consumers than ever are going online to get information about products and services, search engines have become the new gatekeeper, your website the new storefront and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) something akin to a next generation salesman. To reach online audiences, you not only need to sell what you do, but make it easy for people to find you. The good news: there are many proven techniques and online tools that you can capitalize on now, and we’re going to go through 7 key SEO strategies in this blog post:

  1. Why Relevance Matters
  2. Anticipating Customer Needs
  3. Social Media’s Impact On SEO
  4. The 7-Second Rule
  5. Optimizing Your Drupal Site For Google
  6. Landing Pages
  7. Preventing SEO Problems

Drupal websites already give the organizations that use them an edge over the competition because of their built-in SEO tools, such as faster pages, an advanced taxonomy and tagging system, superior naming conventions and many accessibility features. These tools help increase your page ranking on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP): the page you see after entering text into a browser when conducting an organic search. Most organic searches today use Google’s search engine and, as we discuss below, Drupal makes available several modules to simplify integration with Google services, such as Google Translate and Google Analytics.

In this blog post, we’re going to go over some foundational and more advanced SEO approaches to help your organization stay ahead of the curve and become an online authority in your field.

1. Why Relevance Matters

Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo rank content based on an evolving set of criteria. So webmasters and marketers need to be nimble in order to keep pace with the ever-changing SEO landscape. That said, one of the most important things to bear in mind when thinking about strategies to optimize your website content is: relevance. This cannot be understated. The days of keyword stuffing are over. Google’s web crawlers have grown wise to many black hat practice and spammy pages are getting pushed way down the SERP list.

Tip 1#:

Find a key phrase or a selection of keywords that accurately represent your brand and that aren’t used by so many other sites that yours gets lost in the noise. Long-tail keywords can be especially useful here when you’re working on distinguishing your brand and capturing a niche market.

Tip#2:

Google’s indexing robots look for keywords used frequently in blocks of content that contain full sentences and proper grammar for the given language. So repeat your key phrase and keywords throughout your site, but do so using quality, focused content on landing pages, blog posts, customer reviews, etc. And don’t overuse keywords, as that can hurt your ranking.

Tip #3:

Relevant keywords and long-tail keywords can only go so far if your content isn’t up to snuff. Spend time filling your site with quality content – whether in the form of information about your product or service, blog posts, feature stories, press material and landing pages that link to your main site. Readers may find your page because of your exceptional SEO strategies, but they won’t stay long if they don’t find what they’re looking for. And because Google favors websites with fewer bounce rates – more on this in the next section – having quality content can have a significant impact on your page ranking.

2. Anticipating Customer Needs

Quality content is essential for SEO and converting customers. You increase your chances of both when you remove hurdles that could prevent customers from making the next click along their path to a purchasing decision. But, what’s the best way to strategize the flow of content on your site?

Here’s where having a firm grasp of your audience is particularly useful. Ask yourself:

  • What kind of content does your audience need at each stage of their decision-making process?
  • How can you walk you customer down the path to conversion?
  • Are there other mediums you can use to diversify your content, such as blogs, videos, audio, social media, etc.?

Let’s say, for example, that you sell ice cream and you know the vast majority of your customers just want to buy ice cream when they visit your site. You might try:

  • Having information about how to buy your product front-and-center on your homepage,
  • Featuring testimonials from happy customers below your main body content and
  • Including videos about making toppings for ice cream in a sidebar.

Once a visitor moves onto purchasing your ice cream, you could then include information about the ice cream accessories your company also sells.

Google looks at bounce rates when determining its SERP ranking. So if someone goes to your site, then almost immediately clicks the back button on his or her web browser and clicks on a another result on the search results page, Google might assume that your website doesn’t contain quality content and could lower your SERP ranking. The simple solution? Fill your site with quality, relevant content that meets your audience’s needs throughout their decision-making process.

3. Social Media’s Impact on SEO

Organizations wanting to boost your SEO should consider incorporating social media networks into your portfolio. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. can help you reach your targeted audience and increase the likelihood of organic search hits.

To give you a sense of just how big social networking sites have become, in early 2017 Facebook had upwards of 1.86 billion monthly active users. Similarly, WhatsApp had 1 billion, Instagram had 600 million and Twitter had 317 million. According to Statista, social media users worldwide almost doubled from 1.22 billion in 2011 to over 2.3 billion in 2016. And that number, they predict, will increase to over 2.9 billion by 2020.   

But what does this have to do with SEO? Simply put, getting your content on Facebook can increase your search page ranking. That’s because, as of 2010, Google crawlers started indexing Facebook posts and adding them to their SERPs. They did the same for Twitter posts in 2011. So diversify your content!

Think of it this way, if your organization has a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat account, you’ve just increased the number of pages that can be used to engage your audience. Make these into authoritative pages and link them to your website and you’ve just increased your site’s SEO. It’s that simple.

4. The 7-Second Rule

A good test to see if you’re content is going to succeed is the 7-second rule. When you visit your site, if you can’t see the most important information about your company in 7 seconds, you’re going to lose customers. The reality is that the human attention span dropped to 8 seconds in 2015 (from 12 seconds in 2000). Because of that, your website needs to give your audience the information it needs before they click away to the next shiny object.

Although it’s not clear if visitor time, or the time people spend on your website, improves your SERP ranking on Google, what we do know is that anything you can do to edge your site above the competition, while staying true to your brand and company goals, is probably not a bad idea. Optimizing your website for increased visitor time could do a lot to increase your bottom line when visitors become invested in your brand and start sharing information about your amazing organization and opening their checkbooks to support what you do.

Some important questions to ask when assessing your website’s readability:

  • Is your biggest selling feature front-and-center?
  • Does the information provided clearly explain what your organization does and the benefit to customers?
  • Is important information easy to read off mobile and desktop screens?
  • Does your messaging use clear and engaging language?
  • Does your sidebar, header and footer content entice your visitors to get more information?

Try this out…

Ask someone who doesn’t know your brand to look at your homepage for a maximum of 7 seconds and then describe your organization and your value proposition in a few sentences. If they get it wrong, you know you have some more work to do. If they get it right, give them a high five.

5. Optimizing You Drupal Site For Google

Google is currently the top-ranked search engine globally. This means that being at the top of your SEO game will, for the most part, require playing by Google’s rules.

Here’s what you should know…

Each year, Google changes its search algorithm: the criteria Google’s web crawlers use to index and rank pages, somewhere between 500 to 600 times. Most of these changes will be minor tweaks that shouldn’t affect how your website’s pages are indexed and where you land on Google’s results page. However, sometimes Google rolls out major changes that can have a big impact on how it ranks websites and the order it lists them on the results page, which can greatly impact the visibility of your site and your click-through rate. For example, Google’s AdWords update of 2016 saw right-column ads replaced with four top block ads for many commercial searches, which pushed down organic search results lower on the results page. Also in 2016, Google updated its mobile-friendly ranking to further reward websites with mobile first or responsive design, and further penalize sites that lacked a mobile-friendly platform.

Why does Drupal excel?

Drupal 8’s built-in mobile- and tablet-friendly responsive design makes it a leader in the CMS field. Here are a few other ways Drupal sites are optimally positioned to meet Google’s search algorithm:

  • Fully responsive design in core (Drupal 8 only)
  • Built-in page translation with Content Translation to reach broader audiences (Drupal 8 only)
  • Drupal SEO Checklist creates a to-do list of modules and tasks to amp up your website’s SEO capabilities
  • Drupal SEO Tools gives you a dashboard filled with SEO information and tips tailored to meet your SEO needs
  • Fix any URL/link problems with Global Redirect, Link Checker, Pathauto and Path Redirect 
  • Drupal knows the importance of optimizing for Google and is compatible with Google Analytics, integrate that with Google Search Console for even more SEO power
  • Send a sitemap of your website directly to search engines with XML Sitemap
  • The H1 and H2 tags on your taxonomy term page are extremely important for SEO; Taxonomy Title lets you control your titles

 

[Choosing the right CMS is vital in terms of how your website will perform. For a more in-depth analysis of how to go about making this decision, please visit our post Choosing the Best CMS for Your Website]

 

Word to the wise…

In early 2017, Google started cracking down on sites that have aggressive pop-ups and interstitials, such as advertisements or information request pages that appear before a website’s homepage, because they believe this could negatively impact a mobile user’s experience. Google penalizes pages with aggressive pop-ups by pushing them down the SERP ranking. Don’t get caught with aggressive interstitial-itis! For the sake of your page ranking, get familiar with Google’s guidelines for interstitials.

6. Landing Pages

Landing pages, or pages with information that has a targeted focus, give you the ability to make maximum use of long-tail keywords and individual keywords that Google’s indexing robots look for when ranking pages. By tailoring your landing page keywords towards a specific audience, you increase the likelihood that your site will be placed near the top of the list for organic searches using these terms. In addition, pages that optimize the experience of your visitors get fewer bounces and, as mentioned in Section 2 of this blog, that’s a good thing for your SERP ranking.

Landing pages should have a clear, focused message and call to action. While sometimes used as a jumping point to another webpage, such as your organization’s main page, you’ll improve your SEO if you give your audience a complete experience on the landing page. There’s a chance that the person visiting your landing page hasn’t made their purchasing decision already, so providing information about other products or services they might be interested in can also increase your conversion rate.

7. Preventing SEO Problems

Lastly, it’s important to get a customized solution to meet your SEO goals. You could be faced with a world of problems and endless headaches if your Drupal website isn’t designed to fit the requirements of the platform. Drupal is a powerful, versatile CMS with endless opportunities to connect you with effective SEO tools and functionality. Working with a development team that does it right the first time can dramatically increase your chance of success.  

Need help optimizing your Drupal site? Contact Origin Eight for a free consultation: 612-276-5880 or leave details on our contact page

Drupal SEO Series: 9 Critical Steps to Drive Drupal SEO Rankings

SEO for Drupal image

Building a strong online presence is a preliminary step to increasing your Drupal website’s click-through rate and conversion rate. You also need to make it easy for your target audience to find you online using proven Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools and practices.

So how do you get to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) of Google, Bing and Yahoo? What are some unique SEO considerations for Drupal websites that will help you increase your page ranking? How can your development strategy and process give your organization an edge over the competition?

9 Critical Steps for Drupal SEO 

  1. SEO Basics
  2. Drupal’s Taxonomy System
  3. Inbound And Outbound Links
  4. Optimizing URL Appearance In Drupal
  5. Structuring Your Drupal Pages
  6. Metadata And Metatags
  7. Optimizing For Facebook’s Open Graph
  8. The Future Of Voice Search SEO
  9. Get A Higher Page Ranking With XML Sitemap

Optimizing your website can have a significant impact on the visibility and profitability of your organization. So, it’s worth spending some time getting familiar with the principles behind SEO. Drupal’s open source platform offers a lot of versatility, making it a great SEO and Content Management System (CMS) solution for organizations looking to boost your page ranking.

 

[Choosing the right CMS is vital in terms of how your website will perform. For a more in-depth analysis of how to go about making this decision, please visit our post Choosing the Best CMS for Your Website]

 

1. SEO Basics

Definition: Search Engine Optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, is the process of improving the visibility of your online content based on search terms entered into a web browser’s search engine.

Definition: On-page SEO is specifically the practice of optimizing individual pages so that they’ll show up higher on the search engine results page (SERP) and increase traffic to your site from relevant searches.

The Main Search Engine Players

Google’s search engine claims around 80 percent of the market share, followed by Bing and Yahoo, with around 7 and 5 percent market share respectively. In other words, for your website to get a higher SERP ranking – unless your target market only uses Bing, Yahoo or another search engine – it makes a lot of sense to focus your SEO efforts on playing by Google’s rules and optimizing your site to suit its search algorithm.

Google’s Role In Shaping SEO Practices

Before Google’s page ranking system – that took off with its search engine technology in the early 2000s – optimizing for the web was a bit of a free-for-all. Without any restrictions to rein in black hat practices, websites used keyword stuffing and spammy backlinks to rank higher on the SERP and improve the visibility of their web pages. Today, Google’s search engine algorithm places stringent rules on how pages rank on its SERP, and that’s really why SEO is such an important part of doing business online.

The Drupal SEO Advantage

Drupal’s architecture is constructed from its foundation to be conducive to SEO. As well as key SEO modules built into the core software, it also works with a number of optional downloadable modules that make it easier to improve the SEO functionality of your website. As we’ll discuss, there are many techniques you can start using right away that give Drupal sites an added advantage over other CMS platforms.

2. Drupal’s Taxonomy System

Drupal has a competitive edge over other CMSs when it comes to its taxonomy system, which makes it possible to keep even older content on your website near the top of the list where search engine crawlers can find it. Drupal’s taxonomy system accomplishes this by using keywords/ categories/ tags/ metadata to connect, relate and classify content on your website into structured hierarchical groups.

For example, keeping nodes about three clicks away from your home page will make even older content on your website look relevant to search engine indexing robots. With Drupal 8 it is possible to combine advanced taxonomy features with Drupal’s Views and Entities to boost your ranking for long-tail keywords.

3. Inbound And Outbound Links

Another thing crawlers look for to determine your site’s credibility is backlinks, also called inbound links.

Definition: Backlinks or inbound links are hyperlinks on other websites that link to your site.

If the site that links to yours is high-ranking and authoritative (This is determined by a number of factors, including that it has many credible inbound links) your site will garner even more link popularity, which can boost your Google SERP ranking. Inbound links that include key phrases from the page being linked to on your site can also increase your ranking.

To get the best SEO results, aim to get links to your web pages from pages that:

  • Have a high SERP ranking
  • Are authoritative
  • Are popular
  • Are followed by other high-ranking sites
  • Have content relevant to your content
  • Aren’t spam pages

Likewise, Google looks at whether pages you link to from your page, called outbound links, are to authoritative sources. Linking to popular pages with high authority has been proven to boost SEO.

Another major SEO best-practice for links is to give your website some hyperlink love by linking to your own pages. This can improve your page ranking and will have the added bonus of increasing the amount of time people spend on your website.

Pro Tip: Include at least 2 embedded links within the 100 words of main body text on your pages for an added SEO advantage.

Be careful not to go overboard with your outbound links, but do embed a few links to authoritative websites and to your own website to get more eyes on your pages.

4. Optimizing URL Appearance In Drupal

How URLs appear on your page and connect to your content is can have a significant impact on whether or not the search engine crawlers like your page or shove it way down the SERP list. The following are three important tools to optimize URLs on your Drupal site.

Clean URLs

Versions of Drupal 7 and older automatically generate pages with URLs that contain the additional text “?q=” that can make URLs hard to read and could prevent some search engines from properly indexing pages on your site. Drupal’s Clean URLs module fixes this problem by removing the additional text.

With this module activated, a URL that once appeared as:

http://www.examplesite.com/?q=node/83

would now automatically be:

http://www.examplesite.com/node/83

Clean URL’s are enabled by default in Drupal 8.

Redirect module

Duplicate content can really hurt your SEO and should be avoided, although it is sometimes difficult to manage, so it’s good to know about Drupal’s Redirect module. The Redirect module allows you to add 301 redirects on old URLs so that they link your content to the new URL and avoid users receiving a 404 or Not Found error. This module comes in handy, particularly when migrating content from an old website to a new website.

Pathauto module

Just having readable URLs is important for SEO and for your audience’s expectations that they going to the right page. Drupal’s Pathauto module is a URL/ path alias automation tool that puts you in charge of how your website’s URLs are automatically generated so that you can keep consistency throughout your website and maximize URL readability and SEO potential.

For example, with Pathauto you can set rules that will automatically change one of your site URLS from:

http://www.examplesite.com/node/83

to the more descriptive:

http://www.examplesite.com/your category/your-node-title

Pathauto works with a pattern system, which uses Tokens, and can be modified by a website administrator. Once your parameters are set, the Pathauto module makes it easy to automatically generate clean-looking URLs that fit well into your site architecture, and contain the keywords Google’s crawlers are looking for to properly index your pages.

5. Structuring Your Drupal Pages

Getting a higher page ranking is a proactive measure. You should determine how to make it easy for Google to recognize how authoritative and relevant your content is when it is sifting through a multitude of competitor websites.

At a basic level, you can make Google’s job easier by ensuring that your site uses proper HTML semantic markup, such as having a header tag for headers, a footer tag for footers, labels for tables, title tags for images, etc. This starts with a good document outline that creates a clear map for structuring information on your pages.

Information that’s properly structured is easier for web crawlers to find and increases the chances that your page will be properly indexed and ranked by search engines.

6. Metadata And Metatags

A key part of properly structuring your page involves using metadata and metatags.

Definition: Metadata and metatags are pieces of information that help search engines identify and index the content of your pages.

Google uses metadata and metatags to create your search listing and describe your page on the SERP. Getting this information right is crucial for being properly indexed by Google’s web crawlers and increasing your site’s click-through rate.

Pro Tip: Drupal’s Metatag module lets you add custom browser titles, page titles, keywords, description and some advanced search options on your pages to improve the ranking of your site. This should be standard practice for your content creators.

7. Optimizing For Facebook’s Open Graph

Drupal plays well with all the major social media giants, and there are ways to make better connections with them using Drupal settings. Facebook is a great example. With over 1.86 million monthly active users, Facebook’s information-sharing platform offers a lot of opportunity for organizations to get eyes on your content and increase click-through and conversion rate, but because most content on Facebook is shared using a URL, you need to make sure that your site gives the Facebook Crawler enough information to properly display your page. This is where having great metadata comes in handy.

Facebook’s Open Graph Markup is a tagging system that helps Facebook identify information on your website, such as titles, images and videos. These tags are then used to determine how to display your content when someone enters one of your site URLs into his or her Facebook post. It gives you more control in how Facebook interprets your content to its vast audience.

It’s an open source tool that you can use to improve your organization’s Facebook presence and increase the likelihood that your content will be liked and shared.

8. The Future Of Voice Search SEO

This is the new kid on the block, but promises to be very important going forward. Apple’s Siri voice recognition program,  Google Allo messaging app and Amazon Alexa service allows customers to interact with devices using voice commands are all gaining popularity. These services are part of a growing host of voice search services that accounted for 20 percent of US Google queries and 25 percent of Bing queries in May 2016. The voice search trend is also projected to increase to 50 percent of all searches by 2020, driven partly by advances in machine learning technology for voice recognition and the rise of web searches conducted on mobile devices.

So here’s what you need to know when designing your Drupal SEO strategy to account for voice searches:

  • Voice search platforms are often linked to information aggregators like Yelp, so you can increase your SERP ranking by being listed on those aggregators
  • Consider that your brand and keywords may be mispronounced. Add common misspellings of your brand – and key terms used to find your brand – to your optimization strategy, along with negative keywords (excluding certain search terms)
  • Research the conversational language people use to find your brand. Voice searches tend to be more specific than typed searches because of their conversational nature. This is where long-tail keyword research and optimize for common voice queries comes in handy
  • Create a Q&A page that answers common questions. Because voice searches tend to pose a question, this strategy can also improve SEO

Mobile users are on the rise since surpassing desktop users in 2014, and this growing trend towards searching for content in a mobile, versus a desktop, environment will continue to have new implications for SEO, including voice or conversational searches.

9. Get A Higher Page Ranking With XML Sitemap

One main takeaway from this blog post should be the importance of making it easy for Google and other search engines to find and index your content. Drupal has the advantage of being equipped with numerous open source SEO tools that developers can use to increase your page ranking, which is also why so many companies are using the Drupal CMS. Drupal’s XML Sitemap module is one of those tools. It creates an XML document that search engines use to find and intelligently index your web pages. In other words, using this module helps web crawlers learn about the structure, and rank your site more effectively.

Pro tip: XML sitemap can also be directly submitted (and resubmitted) to the top search engines—especially useful if there have been changes to your website structure and content.

 

Get higher page rankings with a powerful Drupal site. Contact Origin Eight for a free consultation: 612-276-5880 or leave details on our contact page

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SEO For Drupal

SEO For Drupal

The Drupal platform is designed to be conducive to solid Search Engine Optimization (SEO) “out-of-the-box” and the architecture encourages site builders to implement good SEO practices in their workflows. SEO-friendly naming conventions, correct tagging of content, and focus on accessibility are all built into Drupal core with the goal of helping search engines find and catalog your site. So, with targeted content, a properly coded theme, and installation of SEO boosting modules your site has the potential to rank very well.

Where to start? Fundamental SEO strategy

Start with keyword research. At the heart of your SEO plan is conveying effectively what goods/services you are providing for your audience, and using the right keywords to help them find you. Your site content should then be guided by the primary goal(s) of the website such as education, converting sales, adding subscribers, and so on. Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a good starting point for establishing a keyword strategy.    

Content really is king. There are many factors that play into a good SEO strategy, but ultimately your content will determine how well you rank. If you have well-produced, highly relevant, shareable content that serves a need for your audience, then you are well placed to rank better with Google and other major search engines. If your content is good you should be able to earn links from other websites, and the more authoritative these sites are the more SEO juice it gives to you, although Google has moved on from this and now favors links from a variety of sites of different sizes with good domain authority.

Analyze your data. To keep on top of SEO you should be aware of the numbers in the background that can help you shape your strategy decisions over time. Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools help you crunch the data and obtain key insights to assist you in areas such as audience segmentation, landing page optimization and improving conversion paths.

Don’t forget social media. As we become more connected through the myriad social media channels that weave their influence in our online world, we should harness those connections to market our businesses. Simply put, Google is applying increasing importance to social media in its search algorithm, and social is now a cornerstone of interactive marketing.

[Want to learn more about the basics of web design? Check out our guide!]

Paraphrasing Tom Webster, VP of Strategy, Edison Research @webby2001

“Social is not a channel. It is a layer over everything we do now.”

Drupal modules that help SEO. Knowing the fundamentals is essential, but there are also modules that make it easier for you to structure and maintain your site for optimum SEO. Here is a list of modules to start with.

Google Analytics  - Search data from Google. Requires an account.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner  - A keyword research and planning tool.

SEO Checklist   - Provides a methodical SEO to-do-list for Drupal sites.

SEO Compliance Checker  - Checks node content for on page SEO compliance whenever a node is saved or previewed.

Link Checker  - Detects hypertext links that are broken.

Menu Attributes  - Adds flexibility to menu items by allowing attribute specification such as id, name, class, style, and rel.

Page Title  - Gives you granular control over the html <title> tag for your website.

Taxonomy Title  - Lets you set the title for the taxonomy term page.

Pathauto  - Auto-generates alias URLs to be more SEO friendly.

Metatag  - Fine-grain control of meta tags on your site for nodes, views and categories.

Path Redirect  - Specify redirects for URLs.

Global Redirect  - Turns on clean URLs and Pathauto, does 301 redirects if necessary, and more.

Search 404  - Avoids standard “404 Page not found” messages by searching the url for other possible results.

Custom Breadcrumbs - Set up SEO compatible breadcrumb trails for any node type.

Site Verification  - Helps to verify your website with search engines.

XML Sitemap  Creates and submits a sitemap to search engines.

Site Map  Creates a plain text sitemap.

A couple of parting thoughts:

Play within the rules. In the past, SEO was easier to navigate, and it was not uncommon for organizations to try to game the system with tricks and techniques to boost SEO rankings. However, SEO is harder to manipulate now that Google is taking more of a gatekeeper role than ever, so organizations should be aware that penalties can result from unscrupulous (black hat) tactics for trying to boost rank, and it may be difficult or impossible to overturn them.

Be flexible and accept constant change.  Be aware that the SEO landscape is continually shifting, so what might work now may not be effective in 6 months time. SEO is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. It should be part of your business strategy--supported with sufficient time and resources over the long term. It is also not an independent discipline, but has to be weaved through other digital marketing channels, such as branding, PR, email marketing, content marketing, social media and so on.

[Web development can be tricky, but not if you understand the basics of building a website. Check out our overview here.]

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