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4 Drupal SEO modules that belong in the core

Drupal is a pretty intuitive and flexible open source CMS. And most important:  it gives you the possibility to easily create a highly SEO-optimized website.  If you have just installed Drupal for the first time, maybe the first thing you’ll learn is that Drupal Modules are a core element of the CMS. In this post I’ll list the SEO-Core of this core that you just cannot go without, if you want search-engine-optimized pages. Without it you’ll have nothing to built upon.

Do not confuse this SEO-Core I am currently talking about with the Drupal “Core Modules.” Any Drupal installation comes with some pre-installed modules and with the system “Core Modules.”  They are active or ready for activation right after the installation. But most of the modules in the list below are not pre-installed, so you must download them from the provided links. By using the word “core” I mean that these SEO-modules are really indispensable for your SEO success and I really think they actually should be included among those pre-installed “Core Modules” of Drupal.

Before enabling the modules below, make sure to enable “Administer » Site configuration » Clean URLs.” Initially all URLs of the Drupal content you create will look something like “http://www.example.com/?q=node/32” ( The number after “/node/” is a random example). After you enable the Clean URLs, they will be much easier to read, something like “http://www.example.com/node/32”. Let’s assume you’ve already enabled the Clean URL’s. Here comes the list of the SEO-core of 4 Drupal Modules:

  • Path (preinstalled): In order to set custom path aliases, you need the Path-module enabled. This way you will be able to change “http://www.example.com/node/32” to something custom, for example “http://www.example.com/my-custom-url“. Note that by creating custom URL aliases, the Path module neither removes the “node”-type URLs, nor redirects them to the newly created custom ones.  To resolve the duplicate content, you must use the “Global Redirect” module, or add “Disallow: /node/” and “Disallow: /node” to your “robots.txt” file. Similar duplicate content problems that could be solved with or without additional modules is the one with the “trailing slashes” on the end of the URLs. More info on how to solve these duplicate content problems – without additional modules – can be found here.
  • Path Auto: Automatically generates path aliases for various kinds of content without requiring the user to manually specify the path alias. For example, if you create new blog-post, this module will create a path alias out of the Title of the post. Depends on: Path, Token.
  • Page Title: Gives you control over how the page titles should be structured and, on content creation pages, it allows you to specify the page title separately.  Depends on: Token.
  • Nodewords: Allows you to add meta keywords, meta descriptions, canonical URLs and other meta tags to the site content.

I think this list covers the smallest possible SEO-Core of Drupal modules that you cannot afford to skip. And I really don’t think that you will need much more, if you create a new site from scratch. However, there are other “good-to-have” SEO Modules that could save you time and work. Especially if you are doing SEO for an old, unoptimized site that has many links and nodes that are already created and indexed by the search engines. In that case “good-to have” SEO modules change to “must-have” ones. But those additional modules will cost more bandwidth and loading time resources of your site. I always try to be as “minimalistic” as possible to save resources, but always try to remind myself that Time is also a resource, maybe the most expensive one.

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As a founding team member of Hop Online, Boyan's project work has covered pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, SEO, link-building, and social media management. Currently his main focus is on PPC, where he manages tens of thousands of keywords across Google, Bing and Yahoo. His work covers three languages: English, German and Bulgarian. If you have questions about how to kick your ROIs up a notch, Boyan is the guy to ask.

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