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SEO and performance

Tue, 07/21/2009 - 15:46

Discussions on Drupal site optimisation are usually technical discussions. But many a time they boil down to philosophical discussions. Search engine optimisation (SEO) and performance tweaks aren't necessarily good for the manageability of your site or for your potential visitors. I ran across a couple of these dilemmas in recent days while trying to optimise my own site.

JS / CSS compression

On of the questions I struggled with is: "should I compress the javascript and css files?". From a performance perspective, the answer is a clear yes. The performance boost is minimal because the servers of my hosting provider have ample headroom. But any performance gain helps. I manage to reduce the number of http requests by 18 simply by combining all the css and js files into 1 file for js and 1 for css. However, because I still do lots of front-end development, I want my own website's css files to be readable by potential clients. If prospects want to judge my css coding skills they'll probably want to take a look at this site's css code to. Compressing the files also makes them very hard to read. And all the care I put into laying out the code neatly (alphabetical element properties, consistent commenting, consistent tagging, etc) is lost for the potential observer. Right now I decided to enable this performance tweak because the potential number of observers is really limited.

Meta Tags

Drupal, out of the box, lacks the support of the keywords and description meta tags. According to some in the Drupal community, the use of these html meta tags is unnecessary. An interesting article on search engine watch states that the use of the keywords meta tag isn't worth the time to implement. Along similar lines of logic, the wise folks of Drupal didn't implement these commonly used tags in Drupal core. What I do know is that one can be penalised or even blacklisted for keyword spamming. The main question is: does not using these meta tags influence your search indexation? If not to Google, perhaps it matters to other search engines. And do you really want to go through the hassle of specifying keywords for every single page in your website? For these purposes the Meta Tags module (previously known as nodewords) is a real life-saver. You can specify global keywords and add taxonomy terms to these on individual node pages. Furthermore it automatically adds a description meta tag to each pages. Combined with free-tagging this is a really manageable combination, which is also really easy to implement.

The H1 Debate

Another controversy of seo is the use of the H1 tag. Also known as the H1 debate. This discussion is pretty old so I won't repeat it here. But there are two doctrines in this debate: 1) you always use the logo or site name as the h1, 2) you always use the page title as the h1. I'm inclined for the latter with the exception of the home page. The home page's title actually is the site name. Therefore I've implemented the sitename as h1 on the frontpage and the page title as h1 on every other page.

Submitted by Hans2103 on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 16:42

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 08/07/2009 - 17:58

Submitted by Kor on Mon, 01/11/2010 - 14:49

Submitted by Kor on Sun, 01/17/2010 - 15:43

Submitted by bas on Mon, 01/18/2010 - 13:11

In reply to by Kor

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