This tutorial offers some advice on how to optimize Drupal.org for search engines. This is part one of a series.
Problem: Google Rankings Drop
The following table shows a ranking drop in Google over the past 8 months for some of Drupal's main keywords:
||Rank on 28 Jan 2007
||Rank on 15 Aug 2007
|content management system
Drupal is obviously one of the best, most flexible, open-source content management systems available. I think that Drupal is the best general CMS because it is very flexible, it runs on standard LAMP servers, and it is usable even by people without much of a technical background. It would be great to see Drupal.org in the top 5 on Google for both of those keywords.
This series of articles on SEO for Drupal.org will attempt to address issues that may help increase organic search engine traffic.
Drupal.org's Robots.txt File
Drupal.org has some basic SEO issues. One of the problems is the massive amount of duplicate content that can be spidered by search engines. In addition to duplicate content issues, having those pages exposed to spiders also puts a heavier load on the server because of the number of pages that can be crawled.
Google has not been obeying robots.txt files lately, but it's a good idea to use robots.txt files correctly in preparation for when Google fixes their crawling problem. (An example of the Googlebot bug can be seen here where Google has indexed and cached sections of this site that have been blocked off with robots.txt since it was launched.)
I've written a Drupal Robots.txt Tutorial which explains some errors in the Drupal 5's default robots.txt file. I've summarized recommended changes to http://drupal.org/robots.txt in the attached PDF file.
Home Page Title Element
The <title> element of a Web page gives search engines an idea about what the theme of the page is about. The home page title element is especially important. The current home page title element has the text
drupal.org | Community plumbing. This is how Google displays it in the SERPs:
It isn't the most attractive listing and might not attract as many clickthroughs as a more descriptive title element. I recommend changing the home page title element of Drupal.org to:
<title>Drupal | Open Source Content Management System (CMS)</title>
<title>Drupal CMS | An Open Source Content Management System</title>
Even better would be to add the keyword PHP. Many people are searching for things like "how do I make a cms in php?". Displaying those keywords in the home page title would be helpful. For example:
<title>Drupal CMS | Open Source Content Management System in PHP</title>
In addition to adding primary keywords to the home page title element, that change would modify the listing of the site in the SERPs so that it looked more descriptive like this:
The important thing is to get both keywords in the home page title element: