How to Configure the Meta tags Module for Drupal SEO
The Meta tags module is important to your site because it tells the search engines what the content you have is all about. That is right, it's pretty much data about data. And while this seems redundant, it is incredibly important for the overall optimization of your site.
The Controversial Childhood of Meta tags
A controversy occurred during the dawn of the search engines (circa 1997) when many people abused meta tags by stuffing them full of keywords. While they were invisible to visitors, search engines gave a lot of credence to the meta tags, so it was a viable way to get to the top of the search engines.
These days, nearly all search engines ignore meta tags as a ranking mechanism in their algorithms but do take them into consideration for other things, so they are still important to maintain on your sites. When it comes to the meta tags on your site, there are about half a dozen that you should absolutely maintain:
Downloading the Meta tags Module
Thanks to Drupal, it is very easy to set meta tags for each node with the Meta tags module. This module gives you some extra fields on each node that you create so that you can put in a description, keywords, and other meta data as you want. This incredibly useful module is maintained by Robrecht Jacques and Alberto Paderno, and can be downloaded at http://drupal.org/project/nodewords. It may be confusing at first, but the Meta tags module is one in the same as the Nodewords module.
The early versions of the module focused on adding keywords to nodes, but over time the module has grown to include more than just the keywords meta tag, so the name needed updating.
Configuring the Meta tags Module
Correctly configuring the module can be the most confusing part of this process, so follow these steps to ensure you have configured it correctly:
Step #1: Click on Admin | Content Management | Meta tags, or go to http://www.yourDrupalsite.com/admin/content/nodewords. You will see something like this:
Step #2: The Global copyright, Global GeoURL, Global keywords, and Default robots meta tag are the site-wide defaults. If you don’t specifically set these elements in the node, then the Meta tags module will display the ones that you set here. Here are some examples of what you might put into these fields:
• Global copyright: © Copyright 2010 Your Corporation. All rights reserved.
• Global GeoURL: 30.4368239, -97.7716253 - (do not use parentheses around your longitude and latitude)
• Global keywords: computer, servers, Drupal, gaming Mac
• Default robots meta tags: ALL=INDEX, FOLLOW
Step #3: The Auto-keywords vocabularies field allows you to select the taxonomy categories that you would like to include in the keywords field. Here’s how it works:
• Select any taxonomy on the Meta tags configuration page.
• When you create a node, include terms from the taxonomy that you selected.
• When you save a node, the terms that you selected will now be included in the keywords Meta tag. You can verify this by looking at the source of the page in your browser.
Step #4: Scrolling further down the configuration page, you will see this:
Step #5: You will probably want to leave these settings alone, but let’s review them so that we understand what we are leaving be:
Text length: Defines the maximum length of a meta tag. Most search engines won't look beyond 255 characters.
Tags to show on edit form: Specify which meta tags you want you or your content creators to be able to edit on a node-by-node basis. For most, description and keywords are all you should allow. However, if you want users to be able to opt content out of Google, give them control over the Robots meta tag. GeoURL would allow users to define their pages in a different geographical location than the rest of the site.
Tags to output in html head: You can turn on or off any meta tags that you want or don't want to appear on your site. For example, if you're not a geographically focused business, you might turn off the GeoURL meta tag.
Repeat meta tags for lists: As you build up content on your site, you'll notice that some pages, like the home page and taxonomy pages, will use pagination. That means that they'll show the ten most recent nodes and then offer links to subsequent ones. This option allows you to specify if you want meta tags to show up on the paginated pages of a long list of content. If you uncheck this option, you'll have meta tags on the first page of paginated content only. Check it and meta tags will show up on all pages. Most sites should leave this option unchecked.
Use front page meta tags: The Meta tags module allows you to specify meta tags for the front page of the site. In Drupal, there are many ways to define the front page. You can make it a node, a list of nodes, a view, a panel, and more. You could even specify different front pages based on the role of the currently logged-in user. With this option, you have an opportunity to define the meta tags no matter how the front page of the site may be defined. Most sites should check this box and then.
Step #6: Next, you will define the front page meta tags by going to your Administer | Content Management | Meta tags | Front page. Hopefully, you will see a screen like this:
Description: Enter the description of the front page of the site. This is usually a two or three-sentence description of the content of the page that is used by many search engines in the search results as the text under your link. It's very important because it's what a search engine user will see before they click on your link.
Keywords: Enter a comma-separated list of keywords about your site.
Step #7: Click on Save. Now that you have downloaded and configured the Meta tags module properly, you are ready to specify meta tags for all the content that you currently have or will be creating.
Thank You For Reading!