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Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation is split into two parts, Ensuring your site is set up correctly: and then what you need to do after setting up your site which is discussed here. If you are looking for the wider area of SEO then I recommend finding out more about Online Magnetism - Attractive Websites.

HTML and page structure in Search Engine Optimisation

If you're flicking through a magzine and quickly want to asses what an article is about you look at the title, perhaps glance over subtitles and some words in bold may catch your eye.  Then you might read the first paragraph to see if you want to read the rest of the article.  Search engines analyse a page in a similar way.


Every page should have a meta title which appears as the title of your browser window or tab and then you can have content titles: heading 1-6 typically.  The meta title is important as this is what will appear on search engine listings.  Drupal automatically sets the meta title the same as your page title which is ok but sometimes you want to put keywords into your meta title that won't look quite right as a page title.  Most emphasis is put on the H1 tag or Heading 1.  Ideally a page should only have one H1 title, which means all other subtitles should be H2 or lower.  Note that Drupal (depending on your theme) will usually set the page title as H1, therefore you should never use H1 in your content.  You can then have as many H2 or lower titles as you want but they should be nested correctly e.g.

  • H1
    • H2
    • H2
      • H3
    • H2
      • H3
        • H4


Almost any text that is emphasised in any way is given more weighting, this includes links.  However with links you need to ensure the keywords are relevant to the page they are linking to.


Images are often overlooked in SEO but the fact that Google has an image search and especially that top images appear in the main results means you should pay special attention to images.  Not only that but they do affect the overall page rank.  To take advantage of image SEO you need to make sure image filenames are keyword rich but it's best practice not to use spaces in filenames so use dashes '-'.  Additionaly image tags can take an 'alt' tag so ensure you fill this out when inserting images.

Page URLs

Page urls have a lot of emphasis so it is important to pay attention to the url Drupal is generating for you and change it if you want to add more keywords.  At the very least you should have ‎Pathauto‎ installed.  Your website address is important in this respect and sometimes it's preferable to have a keyword rich domain name that isn't as memorable or short.

Improving Page Rank

Page rank is a calculation of how relevant your page is.  Incoming links have different value depending on where they are e.g. A link from the BBC or another highly ranked page will in turn greatly increase your page rank.  This means that once you have a few low ranking incoming links, more of the same won't do that much. You need to concentrate on getting your links on high ranking pages.  A really easy way to do this is to search for your keywords and find a blog or a forum where you can comment with your link in your signature or if relevant in your comment.

Incoming Links

Google cannot find your site without an incoming link unless you submit it.  I generally never submit a site and instead rely on incoming links from my other sites and signatures I use on blogs and forums.  If you don't have your own sites then you can just use blogs and forums to pepper the internet with links to your site.  Now although a link from pretty much anywhere that is already listed will get your site listed it's not enough.  You need to be careful crafting your links.  A link consists of an anchor, what you see on the page and an address or url, where the link goes to.  With that in mind let's have a look at what you should do:

Don't just use your website address as the anchor text

Most people just use their website address as the anchor text or even worse just 'click here'.  Using your website address is like having a contents page that has the page numbers as the section headings but it's not so bad if your address has good keywords.  Instead your link anchor should be a keyword rich phrase.



Don't just link to your homepage

Your site should have several pages that are suitable as landing pages that cover your customers' needs and keywords they will be searching for.  What we need to do is get everything aligned. By that I mean:

  • The page your link appears on has relevant keywords
  • Your link has keywords in its anchor
  • Your link has keywords in its address (this depends on the page it links to)
  • Your page has keywords in its titles, in the first paragraph and scattered throught the rest of the page

Pay attention to the url of your link

The url of your link is possibly even more important than the anchor.  It certainly is to search engines but not as important to humans.  This is because it is easy to have any anchor text whereas the url of a page is inherently more reliable.  You may now be thinking it's a good idea to have duplicate pages with different urls, don't do it.   Search engines will simply disregard duplicate pages.  You have to have unique pages.  It's best to have several smaller pages that address specific keywords rather than one long one that tries to address all possible keywords.


As I mentioned, the page rank of the link your page is on can have a huge effect on the page rank of your own page.  So your aim is to get your links on highly ranked pages.  The best way to do this is to approach websites in your field and ask them if you can write an article for them and include a link back to your site.  I've had clients whose traffic has tripled almost permanently because they got an article on a highly ranked website.  Disregarding SEO for a moment, it is hugely beneficial to write articles on other sites irrespective of trying to improve your page rank because it establishes you as an expert in your field and send highly qualified traffic to your site.