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How Drupal Won an SEO Game Without Really Trying

by Jeff Diecks
August 18, 2016

At Mediacurrent we architected and built a Drupal site for a department of a prominent U.S. university several years ago. As part of maintaining and supporting the site over the years, we have observed how well it has performed in search engine rankings, often out-performing other sites across campus built on other platforms.

One recent example the client shared:

The school boasts a popular athletics program with several nationally ranked teams. On Saturdays in the fall fans fill the football stadium and enjoy singing the school’s alma mater before and after games. The words are complex, so many fans Google for the words on their phones to sing along.

Mediacurrent’s client got a call from the athletic department one day, asking how their page could possibly top the big, important athletic department’s site in search rankings for the alma mater? Our client’s response: “I don’t know? Drupal?”

The athletic department tried a few of the usual SEO tricks but could never win in the rankings. Eventually they surrendered, and now they simply promote the academic department’s site for the alma mater lyrics instead.

So how did Drupal win this game?

There was no specific SEO focus to rank for this keyword. Instead Mediacurrent leveraged several routine factors in a Drupal build process, and the end result is a site that wins ranking for branded and non-branded keywords across the campus, no expensive SEO tricks required:

1. Drupal by default is search engine friendly in many areas. This means that sites get a head start in the race just by choosing Drupal.

2. Mediacurrent and the client took measures in the architecture toward common-sense organization such as the URLs, breadcrumbs and page titles all aligning and emphasizing key words for the content of the page.

3. The excellent Metatag module, maintained by Mediacurrent’s Damien McKenna, further boosts relevant content in keyword rankings.The power of Metatag is that it allows content creators to control basic meta tags like page title and keywords, plus more advanced categorizations like Open Graph, Twitter Cards, Dublin Core, Google+, among many others. It's worth it to learn how to use Drupal's Metatag module the right way.

4. The site was also architected with a responsive, mobile-friendly design and WCAG Level AA accessibility compliance, further enhancing its search rankings.

Ways you can up your SEO game with Drupal

Individual victories like this example are nice, but to truly win more than just an individual keyword game, sites need to implement an overall plan for digital strategy. To get started on improving your site’s SEO, two recent videos from Mediacurrent’s Friday 5 series can help: 5 Tips for improving Drupal SEO and 5 Structured Data Items That Work for Every Website.

Meet team member, Jeff Diecks

A veteran of the web publishing and sports media industries, Jeff draws on his extensive project management, business analysis, and site building experience to lead professional services and client delivery at Mediacurrent. An active member of the Drupal community, Jeff organizes events for his local Louisiana Drupal Users Group and Drupalcamp New Orleans.

Jeff joined Mediacurrent in 2010 after 11 years with Turner Broadcasting Systems in Atlanta, GA. In his previous position as Director of Operations at Turner Sports New Media, his team managed technical operations for NASCAR.COM and initiated Turner’s adoption of Drupal. Jeff’s other roles at Turner included Director of Editorial Operations, Project Manager and Producer at CNN/Sports Illustrated Interactive. Prior to joining Turner, he served as Website Manager for Major League Soccer in New York, and was responsible for the league site's design, maintenance and content publishing.

Jeff lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife and daughter. On nice-weather days he can be found working from a table in his backyard with his yellow lab, Murray.

Learn more about Jeff >

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