Sunday, August 9, 2009

Optimizing Drupal Pathauto settings for SEO and ease of use

I am building out a rather robust site in drupal, and while I have worked on several drupal sites in the last several months, I am taking a little more time with this one... trying to set myself up with a viable dev blueprint, if you will.

I have enabled pathauto to help with SEO, and now am trying to optimize the pathauto settings for each content piece. One of the site content types is a blog. Many blogs list articles by date, and I often find date incredibly relevant in my searches, so I was thinking of setting a path as In exploring the viability of that, I stumbled across this article (4 reasons to avoid using dates in urls) , and must say that I see the sense in the article. The only thing that gives me pause is that I often come across an article where a pub date is not readily apparent - and I can get pretty deep into it before I realize it was pubbed in 2005 and is not really relevant. However, that is from a reader's point of view, from a content provider's point of view, it does not benefit to add date. Best bet looks to treat blog recrds the same as news records...

As to news items, google does a pretty good job of laying it all out for on optimizing for placement in google news. The only thing that really stuck out to me was that, in including a thumbnail img with the news article, making the img a link is a detriment. The big thing for placement on google news is the 3 digit number which need be associated with the article, which can be handily added via pathauto using the [nid] token. Consequently, I have news paths set to "news/[title-raw]-[nid]" - I keep the /news/ at the top as it follows the sitemap, and the user can delete the article title from the address bar and then end up at - which is a real page listing all news, which makes sense from a usability point of view.

The primary rule of thumb I have decided to follow is that paths should follow site map structure, such that you should be able to follow the path back up to the home page in a logical way. So, if you have, you should be able to back up at the address level so ../news/press-releases/ lists all press releases and ../news/ lists all news inclusive of press releases, and so on.