The Drupal community, including the Mediacurrent Team, is abuzz with the upcoming Drupal 8 release. No surprise since it’s been more than 4 years since the last release! If you’re a marketer, the Drupal 8 release may not be on your radar - but it should be. The marketing landscape is vastly different than it was when Drupal 7 was released in 2011. Since then, there has been a shift, placing the marketing team in the driver’s seat more often and almost always involved in the CMS decision. This newest release provides so much of the functionality marketers need to leverage our strongest, most important marketing tool, our website, to generate and nurture current and potential customers. This series will explore the elements of Drupal 8 most important to you and your marketing team. In this first post, we look at the elements of Drupal 8 that will help you with SEO.
Traditional SEO is dead.
Yes - I said it. No longer will well-placed keywords alone get you to the top of the SERP ranks. It’s a cliche but Content really is King in today’s marketing world and it’s what helps you improve your SEO.
Every algorithm change Google has made has one thing in common: it aims to provide the best content based on what it "thinks" the user is trying to find. If you want your rankings to stick past the next update, don't try to cheat the system. Attract your prospects with informative, entertaining pieces that they can use to take action. And avoid no value posts that are keyword stuffed with your industry and the word "best" 100 times. Google can see through it and so can all of your users.
That said, there are a few other factors that are critical to keeping your rankings high that can’t be ignored including quick load times and mobile-friendliness. Drupal 8 is built with several of these factors in mind to help us make needed improvements quickly and effectively.
Mobile First Mentality
Google’s latest algorithm change has taken effect and while I told you not to panic about an initial drop off, I do hope you’ve taken time in the last few months to make the necessary improvements to make your website mobile friendly. Great news - Drupal 8 is created with responsive design capabilities built in, so you can begin to address those Mobilegeddon problems immediately.
That’s not to say all of your responsive problems will be solved. Content editors will still need to think through their content and imagery, themers will still need to do configuration to establish things like breakpoints, etc. but Drupal 8 will set you on the right path, giving you and your team many of the tools you need.
You’ll also have the option to choose different images and content for desktop and mobile versions right from the WYSIWYG editor, making it easier to see the differences for every piece of content when you add it and before you publish. This means a solid visual of both versions in real-time for faster publishing and peace of mind knowing exactly what your users experience on any device.
(More on this in a future post.)
The Need for Speed
Another big factor that could affect your rankings is speed on both desktop and mobile. Google places such high importance that they’ve given you a PageSpeed Insights test to show where and how your website is slowing visitors down. The newest version of Drupal has functionality that addresses this issue as well.
Drupal 8 also uses industry leading caching technology to allow updated content to be served fresh to client, while preserving the cache on content that hasn’t changed. So, after your visitors come to your website once, they won’t have to wait for all content to load each time, making load times much faster.
Another way Drupal 8 improves speed is through feature velocity. Because so much new functionality is built into Drupal 8 core, creating and publishing new dynamic content experiences is significantly faster than in Drupal 7. A blog post that features dynamically updated data, relevant to and powered by your content can be built in the UI in Drupal 8, something that in Drupal 7 would have taken custom development and several modules.
Responsive design is a must-have in today’s digital landscape and speeding up your website on both desktop and mobile is a surprisingly effective way to contribute to your SEO efforts. In short, if you’re marketing team is focused (as you should be) on top rankings, Drupal 8 provides many of the tools to make that happen.
A word of caution - if SEO is a puzzle, responsive design and quicker load times are just two of the pieces. Mediacurrent has several tools to help you address your overall SEO strategy, including an SEO Best Practices eBook and our SEO and Drupal Checklist.
But, SEO is only part of the story. You need a strategy for content too. In the next post in this series, I’ll break down the Drupal 8 functionality for content creation, publishing and personalization.