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Author Tom Geller demonstrates how to create and publish a complete web site with the powerful tools in Acquia's hosted service, Drupal Gardens. The course shows how to leverage the pre-built page layouts and add custom styling using the ThemeBuilder tool; integrate rich site features, such as surveys, user ratings, and media galleries; and push content to Twitter and Facebook. The course also covers transitioning from a Drupal Gardens site to a self-hosted Drupal site. Exercise files are included with the course.
Google and other search engines catalog the web automatically, using sophisticated page and language analysis to figure out what a site is about. There are things you can do to make your site more readable to them, resulting not only in better search ranking, but also better quality search results. Here are four ways to do that in Drupal Gardens. The first one you've already seen, which is to add a little bit of information here called a site slogan. Earlier in the course, we got rid of our site slogan, and now we're going to return it back in but not have it show up here underneath the title.
To do that, click Configuration and then click Site information. In Slogan, I'm going to say "California tourism and travel." Now, if I Show it and click Save configuration, it appears right here under the title, but there is still some value if I add that and then hide it, and I'll show you. I'll scroll to the bottom after unclicking that Show slogan. Now, it doesn't show up under the title, but it still shows up here in the browser's title bar.
That is important to search engines, so you might as well leave it in. The second method gives your site credibility to the companies that run search engines, such as Google and Yahoo. I'll show you how it works with Google, although Drupal Gardens lets you verify your site to other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo and Yandex. It does this through a module called Site Verification, which is way down here near the bottom of the Modules page. It's turned on automatically, so you don't have to worry about it. The way that you add a verification is that you go to Google's webmasters page.
That's at google.com/webmasters. I have already logged in to the Webmaster tools with my account. Now I go down and add a site. Here I type in the URL of my site, which you might remember is explorecalifornia.drupalgardens.com. I'll just copy it and paste it there for ease and then click Continue. On the next page, we have several ways that we can verify it, and actually several of these are supported in Drupal Gardens. I kind of like the Add a meta tag, because then you just have to copy and paste a small amount of text here.
So we copy it, go back to Explore California, and click on Configuration. Then go down to Verifications, which is down here under search and metadata. Add a verification. It's for Google. And then click Next. Click in on META tag, scroll down, and click Save. Now, when we go back to our Google Webmaster's page, we click Verify. There. Now, Google knows that we own the site, and it has a little bit more credibility with Google.
Again, you can do this with other search engines in a very similar way. The third way that you can improve your site's SEO is by defining an XML sitemap. The way you do that--and let's go back to our site--is by clicking on Configuration and then down to XML sitemap, which is right down here under Search and Metadata. Now, the truth is you don't actually have to add the sitemap. It's automatically created when you create this site. However, you can change certain settings in that sitemap which will affect how your site will appear in search engines, by clicking on the Edit button right here next to the sitemap.
First, you can decide whether to submit or not submit your sitemap to the various search engines. You can change priorities of which pages and content types and so forth show up in those search engines. I won't go through all of the details here because they get quite complex. I'll show you, in a minute, where you can get those details and figure out how best to position your site, but first I'll show you exactly what this gets you. I'll open up a new window and search in Google for "lynda." Of course, that brings us to lynda.com's site right at the top.
You see all of these sublinks here that go to different areas of the lynda.com site? Those were pulled out of the site, because they were decided to be the most important ones in the entire site. Well, with the XML sitemap and by changing all of the weights that you have here--that is, deciding that a page is more important than a forum topic, for example-- you can determine which ones will show up in searches when somebody searches on Google or Bing or another search engine. There is a documentation page on the Drupal Gardens site at drupalgardens.com/documentation/ modules/xml-sitemap, which will give you a lot more details about how exactly to improve the way your site is presented to search engines.
Finally, I want to briefly mention a couple of other ways that Drupal Gardens makes your site friendly to search engines. You don't have to do anything with them though, because they're turned on and preconfigured by default. One of them has no settings you can change, and you should usually just leave the other one alone. The first one is called URL aliases and formerly known as Pathauto in the Drupal world. To get there, we'll go back to our site and then click Configuration, scroll down a bit to URL aliases.
As you could see, this takes nodes that we've posted, which are naturally known by their node number--node 12, node 57--and gives them a name that more describes what they are. This name is automatically created by Drupal Gardens by setting up patterns and then taking certain words from the title. So as you can see it's just content, slash, node:title. There is some language manipulation that's done on that, for example to drop words like A and V, but the effect is very good for search engines, because it sees not only does the page concern let's say a tour in Big Sur, the title and URL all agree with that, and that builds credibility with various search engines.
The second way that Drupal Gardens helps improve your site's presentation to search engines is called RDF, which stands for Resource Description Framework. There is not much to show about it in Drupal Gardens. It's just something that's there by default. What it does is to describe your content in a way that other computers understand. I can explain how that works by going to Google once again and doing a search for a movie, let's say Avatar. Now as we look down here, because the IMDb site speeds up the information about ratings to Google, we see the rating right here in Google.
This is also true about products. If we were to type, for example, Xbox, we not only see ratings, we also see prices and how many reviews there are. Again, Drupal Gardens automatically feeds up some of this information. If you're curious about how RDF works, the best place to go to find out is at W3.org/RDF. Now, search engine optimization is a huge subject, and a whole industry has grown up around it. The good news is that Drupal in general, and Drupal Gardens in particular, is really good at presenting your pages to search engines and also to other computers around the web.
This page on the Drupal Gardens web site gives you a few more tips on how to make SEO even better in Drupal Gardens, but a lot of SEO is based on things like how you link text and where elements appear on the page. You're best way to learn all this stuff is to watch the lynda.com course "SEO: Search Engine Optimization Getting Started." And of course, you can always learn more by searching for SEO on the web in general, because there is a lot of stuff out there.
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