Search engines have a single goal, to get users to content that will delight them. Oddly enough, users have a single goal, to get to content that will delight them. Sounds like, with a little luck, we can kill two birds with one stone. Lets do some bird killing (metaphorically that is).
The Dark Ages of the Web
Many years ago, the search engines were naive. It was easy to fool them with volumes of low value content. Often when you searched for something many of the results linked to pages with bad or broken English that said nothing and were filled with ads.
But search engines have gotten significantly smarter over the last several years. If you don't create content that delights, you won't get the traffic. At least not for long.
Many years ago websites were just advertising. Pages drooled out superlatives about their products and services. We didn't trust the hype, but hype was often all there was. Then one day the good people over at O'Reilly Media invented Web 2.0. Suddenly people could talk to each other. They could not only talk, they could rate, tag, comment, bookmark, ping, tweet, update their statuses and so much more.
OK, we could do much of the social thing before the term Web 2.0 was coined. But there has been a monumental explosion in the social side of the web in the last few years. Now seemingly the entire world is interconnected in billions of online conversations and interactions. Astute traditional websites have now enabled Web 2.0 features on their site. The people now own your brand, and if you don't engage them, they will talk behind your back - and if neglected they may not have nice things to say.
You lucky Drupal user you
Luckily, Drupal is the ultimate secret two bird killing weapon. The standard tools allow you to publish content that ranks well in the search engines. That's great if you like being #843 out of 1,547,983 sites. But we are Drupaler's, we want to be at the top.
The key is to combine Drupal's advanced engagement features in a search optimized way. This creates a perfect Drupal SEO
storm. As you climb to the top of the search engines, you drive exponentially higher amounts of traffic. Then delight those visitors and watch the wonders of social behavior as they champion your brand. Each dynamic reinforces each other.
I have broken this list into three posts. Here are the first three strategies.
At its core Web 2.0 is about a two way conversation. Commenting is the purest way to create that conversation and provides extra content for search engines to read. Commenting is of course built into Drupal core.
Balancing spam and ease of commenting is always a challenge. Complement commenting with social logins like Facebook Connect, OpenAuth, OpenID or even Gigya if you want an easy way to authenticate commenters on all major social sites.
Once you have content, the next thing you need to do is classify it. Freetagging gives users an open way of classifying posts the way they see best. Free tagging helps users find content and quickly know what it is about. Drupal core's taxonomy system provides free tagging functionality. It also creates pages that list all nodes of a specified tag. It helps people find similarly tagged content and significantly helps the search engines spider your site. Some of those tag listings may also drive extra taffic.
Advanced tip 1:
Auto Tagging: To assure you tag pages well and to make it easy you can use the Auto Tagging module
. You can connect it in with the Alchemy module
that will extract keywords from your content and automatically add them to the node on sumbit.
Advanced tip 2:
Folksonomy: Drupal core's taxonomy system is for node authors to tag content. The Community tags module
enables site visitors to tag in a similar fashion to commenting. This creates what is called a Folksonomy, where typical readers classify content based on their words. Can you say free crowdsourced keywords? Awesome.
8. Trackbacks and Pingbacks
This is something that WordPress got very right. Blogs are designed to be a network of interrelated conversation across multiple sites. Trackbacks and Pingbacks are two different ways for blogs to communicate with each other when a post is continuing the conversation of another post.
When people read about a subject, they often want to examine it from multiple points of views. Reading posts by multiple authors is a great way to do that. Posts that support Trackbacks and Pingbacks, (both are available as contributed modules in Drupal), will link to each other giving readers the opportunity easily find those alternative points of view. The search engines also love those links. Search engines rank pages based on the number of inbound links from an outside site. It's called PageRank. It's how they tell which sites and webpages are the most important. Trackbacks and Pingbacks are a great way to encourage other blogs to link to you bringing you traffic and elevating your PageRank.
Advanced tip:Advanced tip 2:
Automated linking isn't just for blogs anymore: Both of these features were made popular by WordPress so they are often thought of as something only a blog uses. In Drupal you can add this functionality to all pages and content types on your site. Why limit such a good thing to just your blog?
Next time, strategies 4 - 7.
Got any strategies you like? Let me know. Maybe you can bump one of the rest of the list.