Drupal 8 migration and SEO

Drupal 8 website migration plan & SEO: key things to consider

Drupal 8 migration is an increasingly popular decision among Drupal 7 website owners. This is explained by the benefits of Drupal 8, as well as by the fact that migration to D8 is the best way of getting ready for Drupal 9.

Migration involves plenty of aspects. Today, we will review a very important, but often overlooked one — SEO. Discover the best SEO practices in planning a Drupal site migration to the 8th version.

A little introductory note: is Drupal good for SEO?

Before we begin diving into the migration and SEO peculiarities, we want to answer one of the most popular questions of our customers: is Drupal good for SEO? The answer is a definite yes. By means of both built-in and contributed Drupal SEO modules, your website can be provided with everything for better positions in SERP:

  • SEO-friendly descriptive page URLs
  • meta tags for your content
  • effective content categorization via taxonomy
  • proper URL redirects
  • helpful analytics
  • XML sitemap creation
  • robots.txt creation
  • broken link checking
  • real-time SEO tracking

and much more.

How does Drupal 8 migration impact SEO?

The difference in architecture between D7 and D8 has created a challenging Drupal upgrade path (although migrations have definitely become much easier today). There are classic migration steps like creating a fresh D8 instance and moving the content, users, and configuration to it. This is done via automation, or recreated manually in some cases.

The choices depend on complexity of migration, the amount of content, and more. For example, when you need to migrate content from Drupal 7, it can be more feasible to simply republish the nodes if there are under 50.

In any case, Drupal 8 migration should be performed with respect to SEO, otherwise various issues may arise. They may lead to losses in website traffic, SEO rankings, brand visibility, customer satisfaction, and conversions. Of course, no website owner wants this to happen, because they have invested their money, time, and effort into gaining it all through high-quality content.

Consider, for example, a very common SEO issue such as broken links that appear if your pages have changed their URLs during an uncareful content migration in Drupal. In this case:

  • search engines find missing pages and decrease your rankings
  • users access your content via bookmarks and become disappointed
  • backlinks to your site on third-party websites and social media are broken as well

This looks like a total SEO disaster! However, this is just one example — read on to discover more. This proves how important the role of an SEO expert is in a Drupal 8 website migration plan.

The workflow of an SEO expert during a Drupal 8 migration

For SEO success during migration, an SEO expert should be involved from start to finish:

  1. Do a SEO audit before the migration to discover what needs improvement, what brings the most value, what should most definitely stay unchanged during the migration, etc.
  2. Review the content to see what needs to be rewritten or maybe what obsolete content needs to be deleted.
  3. Create the SEO requirements for developers for what should be achieved so they can use them as a guide to plan the necessary steps and choose the right tools.
  4. Stay in touch during the migration so developers can consult the SEO expert with any questions that arise.
  5. Thoroughly check the migration results in every SEO-related detail before the new Drupal 8 website is deployed to live.

What’s important: SEO checklist for a smooth Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 migration

The necessary things to do differ from website to website and are based on its SEO audit. However, we have asked our SEO experts for a common Drupal migration checklist of important SEO issues to consider. Here is goes:

Web page ULRs

  • The website should be available to users at the same address as was used for Drupal 7. Take care to redirect from the WWW to non-WWW version, as well as from the version with slashes (https://my-website.com/). If the website uses HTTP, it is highly recommended to switch to HTTPS.
  • Website structure and navigation should be preserved if no changes are planned. Sticking to the same structure is highly recommended in order to save a lot of trouble with URLs.
  • All page URLs should be preserved (because even the slightest URL change can cause broken links!). If the website structure changes so that you cannot keep the same URLs for some pages, make 301 redirects for them. The Redirect module can take care of the redirects to the new addresses.
  • The logic of adding new nodes in the future should also be kept the same. The Pathauto module will help you generate new URLs according to the necessary logic patterns (e.g. your-website/category/blog-title).
  • You need a well-designed 404 page in place. If you would like your website to search for some content instead of just showing the 404 page, try the Search 404 Drupal module.
  • There is a recommendation to make all website URLs relative.
  • The use of the Canonical tag should be preserved.
  • Provide a rel="nofollow" attribute for external links.
  • Image URL paths used in content should be preserved.
  • Internal linking should be preserved.

Metadata & tags

  • Meta tags and the way they are generated should be preserved. You can use the Metatag module to provide automatic meta tag generation for content according to the specified patterns.
  • The ALT and TITLE tags for the media should also be carefully migrated. Please note that by default the ALT tag is required in Drupal 8 and changing this is not recommended for web accessibility practices.
  • H1-H6 tags and the way they are generated need to be kept.
  • Twitter Cards metadata and the way it is generated need to be kept.
  • Open Graph metadata and the way it is generated need to be kept.
  • Structured data needs to be carefully migrated. The Schema.org Metatag module can be of great help.
  • HTML lang attributes should be preserved.
  • Meta viewport should be preserved.

Configuration & other important SEO elements

  • You need to make sure all the webforms have the proper configuration and are working so you can get your leads, customers, subscribers, etc.
  • XML Sitemaps should be preserved (if the website structure changes, it’s necessary to create recommendations as to its configuration with further checking). The XML Sitemap Drupal module can be of great help.
  • The Robots.txt should be carefully migrated (if the website structure changes, it’s necessary to create recommendations as to its configuration with further checking). The RobotsTxt Drupal module can take care of that.
  • All important scripts for third-party services should remain fully functional on your website.
  • Content categories, node publication dates, pagination, page tags, etc. needs a careful migration.
  • The website’s favicon should be preserved.
  • And there is more, depending on a particular website!

Website loading speed

It’s necessary to take care of the page loading speed because it is one of the SEO ranking factors and also has a direct influence on website traffic and conversions.

Mobile-friendliness

A key part of the Drupal 8 migration and SEO checklist is the proper site display across all desktop and mobile devices. Mobile-friendliness influences your rankings according to Google’s mobile-first approach and boosts your traffic.

If you are still on Drupal 6, discover why you need to migrate from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8.

Drupal migration SEO checklist

Let us perform your Drupal 8 migration with best SEO practices

If you want to be sure you migrate to Drupal 8 without losing SEO, we have great news for you. Our Drupal support and maintenance team specializes in Drupal 8 migrations and also has SEO experts on staff. They will consider all your website needs and provide for the SEO-friendly upgrade process.

Plan your migration with us and welcome to the innovative Drupal 8 with all your SEO gains retained!

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