This Week in Drupal SEO News: June 18, 2010

Drupal Design Camp Boston 2010, Drupal Gardens Update, Google’s Mayday Release, and Commerce Search

Do you have World Cup fever yet? Are you annoyed by the vuvuzellas? Are you reading this as the United States scorches the “jubalani” into the back of the ol’ onion sack against Slovenia? There is plenty of soccer to be enjoyed this summer and I hope you are able to catch it. But enough soccer talk.

As I head to Boston this weekend for Drupal Design Camp 2010, I wanted to share with you a few juicy stories that have come across the Volacci news desk. Acquia just finished up a code sprint that brought some great improvements to Drupal Gardens. And Google’s search algorithm update last month may be impacting your SEO. Join me after the jump for this week’s Drupal SEO news.


Drupal Design Camp Boston 2010

This weekend is the Drupal Design Camp 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts at the Stata Center at MIT. The camp is two days of design goodness from Drupal design studs and superstars, and is absolutely free to attend. If you are in the area or happen to have the ability to be in Boston by tomorrow morning, do it! 

The camp is targeted at visual designers, Drupal themers, user experience designers, developers, project managers, and all other Drupal business folks who are interested in learning the wizardry behind designing for Drupal.

Drupal Gardens Update

Acquia recently finished up an internal code sprint for Drupal Gardens. There were many significant improvements made, and its seems the main focus was on improving its theming capabilities and the added security of the Mollom module. Chris Brookins, VP of Engineering at Acquia, put out a great post outlining how Drupal Gardens is now meatier and dripping with goodness.

Check out the highlights of the Drupal Gardens update from Brookins:

  • Updated all sites to Drupal 7 Alpha 5 + all core changes through May 31. For a complete list of what is new, see the Drupal 7 Alpha 5 notes or the raw CVS commit messages from May 14 to May 31.
  • Enabled Mollom comment spam blocking on all sites.  Every site has been provisioned with a Mollom account and comments made on the site will be protected.  You can turn on Mollom protection for most other Drupal forms as well.  You may choose to disable Mollom as long as you first turn on comment moderation for anonymous users. 
  • Added a new "Bare bones" theme which contains no styling at all (no borders, no colors, no font styles, etc.)  Use this theme if you want to start completely from scratch and build up from a base to create your own theme masterpiece.
  • Restructured and updated all themes to make them very flexible, standard, accessible, and SEO friendly.  The benefits are significant including:
    • Easier ThemeBuilder styling:  Now more than ever, the first thing you click on will be the element you want to style -- without resorting to use of the element selector (now hidden under Power theming, see below).
    • Flexible width support: Containers within the "page" element have fluid width styling.  The page width can be easily resized from 0 to 1100px.  The default is 960px wide.
    • Flexible gridding with fluid-width columns: All columns can be re-sized with the ThemeBuilder.  By default, they distribute evenly across a row according to the visible content.
    • Standardized HTML Structure: All themes are based on a standard structure so it is possible to start with any one theme like Kenwood and eventually style it to look like any other theme such as Campaign or Impact.
    • Better SEO: The h1 tag is always used exclusively for the node title on a node page. No more than one h1 is used per page which is important for search engine optimization.
    • More accessible:  Every Gardens theme page has a "skip to content" link just inside the body tag to provide a shortcut to screen-reading browsers and keyboard support.
    • Plenty of styling hooks: There are now a sufficient number of wrapping elements to reproduce nearly any design while satisfying Internet Explorer's lack of support for CSS 3 styles.  The structure of blocks now includes hooks for top and bottom cap decoration as well as an inner wrapping element that can be used to style the vertical edges or background of blocks.
    • New styling elements: Each top-level container (page, header, content, and footer) contains decoration structures.  With them you can place background images and styles that are not dependent on content, separating how your theme looks from the data it presents.
  • New Power theming.  While Power theming is off (the default ThemeBuilder behavior) you simply point, click and style your site.   If you need more fine-grained control over what you are styling,  click to turn Power theming  on and you will be able to:
    • Select many more theme elements with the new CSS Navigator.  After selecting any element on your theme, arrows will appear next to it allowing you to select the element's parent, first child, or sibling element (basically traversing the DOM to access elements hidden from the point and click method).  This is very useful to find the right element for the style change you need, and see the theme's structure.
    • Access the Element selector to control the scope of your styling.  e.g. style all h2s identically or only style the h2s located in your theme's sidebar.  Or style how any element appears in the hover state, active state, etc.
  • Fixed many bugs as reported by our awesome beta testers.

High Profile Sites Using Drupal

Drupal’s popularity is growing, and there is no better indicator than when high profile websites launch or migrate to the open source publishing platform. Every so often, the founder and project lead of Drupal, Dries Buytaert, likes to celebrate a high profile migration with a quick tip of his cap to the site. In the past week, there were a few cap tips and I wanted to pass on the mention here on the Volacci blog. If more information on all things Drupal, check out Dries’ personal blog at

South African Government Using Drupal

Just in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it has been discovered that the South African Government is using Drupal for their official 2010 FIFA World Cup website. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leffe Using Drupal One of Dries Buytaert’s favorite Belgian abbey beers, Leffe, is now using Drupal for their main website.

Varnish Using Drupal Varnish, an HTTP accelerator that caches pages in virtual memory, just relaunched its Varnish Software site using Pressflow, a Drupal distribution that features performance and scalability improvements.


Google’s Latest Algorithm Update: Mayday

Around the beginning of May, Google released its latest algorithm update, appropriately named ‘Mayday’. The Mayday update changed the way Google indexes “long-tailed” queries, now assigning them the same value as shorter search queries. This could inevitably lead to lost traffic from long-tailed searches. Matt Cutts of Google put out a great video answering some questions concerning Mayday:

As Matt Cutts stated, Mayday’s changes are permanent and help judge which sites are a better match than others for some queries. It also seems to hint that if you have great content on your site that is relevant to long-tailed keywords, you will rank better than others. It appears, that content is still king.

Tip: Take a look at your H1 or Header Tags. Make sure that your Header tag is not the same - word for word - as your Title Tag. Duplicate tags will hurt your ranking. The Title Tag should contain your website’s most important keywords, written clearly and concisely.

Google Commerce Search 2.0

Are you in online retail? Then get excited.

Yesterday, Google launched Google Commerce Search 2.0 for retailers in the United States and United Kingdom. The new version provides an improved online experience for shoppers and greater control (ROI) for retailers. Check out this video, which outlines the new features: The ‘meat’ of this second release consists of:

  • Improved Merchant Customization: A merchandising dashboard that gives merchants more control over promotions, ranking rules and filtering.
  • Better Shopping Experience: Query autocompletion, spelling and stemming dictionaries, and new custom synonym options will make shopping on a retail site extremely easy and accurate.
  • Improved Browsing & Navigation: Visitors can now shop by browsing around your site as well as searching directly for products.

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