Holistic SEO & Drupal 8

Best practices for an ever changing search landscape

Holistic SEO is a term used to describe development in which content, marketing, technical SEO, performance, security, user experience and user intent come together to create an ideal url on the internet, about a certain topic.

Why take a Holistic approach to seo?

It defines a set of repeatable, best practices that aids development and ultimately benefits the user.

As search engine algorithms get more personalized, complex and intelligent, we won't be able to control or predict changes.

This presentation is for those responsible for:


  • Research
  • Create & Analyze
  • Report & Refine


  • Plan
  • Build
  • Test

Who are the search engines?

Google YouTube Amazon Facebook Bing Baidu (China) Yandex (Russia)

Web search engines

Platform specific search engines

  • YouTube
  • Amazon
  • Facebook

Optimizing content (videos, products, posts, etc..) published on these sites is similar to what we do for the web.

The scale of search

Search Engine Land

On May 24th, 2016 Google revealed that users make at least 2 trillion searches per year worldwide

Google now handles at least 2 trillion searches per year - Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land

Search Engine Land

How that breaks down

  • Searches per year: 2 trillion
  • Searches per month: 167 billion
  • Searches per day: 5.5 billion
  • Searches per hour: 228 million
  • Searches per minute: 3.8 million
  • Searches per second: 63,000
  • ...at least...

Since then no one from Google has talked about the number of searches.

Moz Moz

Some great analysis has been done by Rand Fishkin on Moz.com using estimated Clickstream Data from Jumpshot.

The following chart shows an increase in search volume of US searches with an average well over 40B per month.

That would be +/-1/2 trillion annual US searches.

Chart of US Searches by Rand Fishkin from Moz

Is SEO Opportunity Growing or Shrinking? - Rand Fishkin, Moz Founder December 17th, 2017

The search

Three basic types of searches

  • Navigational
    Searcher want to go somewhere, online or offline.
  • Informational
    Searcher want to learn something.
  • Transactional
    Searcher want to buy, sell, sign up, etc.
a page we created containing a very specific search term

Once upon a time, we were able to create small pieces of keyword specific content...

ranking for a very specific search term

And we were able to get it to rank on the search engines!

Floor Finish Guide

These days, one piece of content can be returned for different worded search terms.

HouseLogic.com's Guide to Hardwood Floor Finishes

Is listed for the following search terms:

  • hardwood floor finishes
  • wood floor finish
  • how to finish a hardwood floor
  • wood floor finishing

It is a very well written article in an excellently architected site from a domain with value that has lots of links to it.

  • Nice big image
  • Over 1000 words
  • Great meta tags
  • JSON-LD Markup
  • Fast
  • Mobile
  • and more
search results - hardwood floor finishes

hardwood floor finishes

  • Primarily Informational
  • Has some Transactional elements
  • Lots of informative links, and a shopping box.
  • We also have similar results for "wood floor finish"
search results - wood floor finish
search results - how to finish a hardwood floor

how to finish a hardwood floor

Informational Search

  • Knowledge box and videos all are "How to"
  • Knowledge box is from the 7th result, same site as our page
  • Our page is a product guide, not a How to, but the information is still percieved as valuable.
search results - wood floor finishing

Wood Floor Finishing

Transactional Search

  • Business listing showing companies near me
  • Yelp business reviews, and Home advisor business listings
  • Contractor websites
  • The page in question does not fit in with Transactions, but is still listed!

rekkyvajavick coffee

How Americans search for coffee in Iceland

search results - coffee in Iceland
Little Bub Video

An example showing how semantic Google is. Two out of three words I search for are not on the resulting page.

little bub fireplace

searching for little bub fireplace on google

Now, Google knows the piece of content I need, even if I get 2 of the 3 words wrong!

"little" nor "fireplace" exist on the page, yet I get the result.

Wedding Dresses Search Results

Wedding dresses

Transactional Search

  • Ads, Local Ads, Sidebar Ads
  • Category pages on retailer/manufacturer sites.
  • Note: No big topic pages. Searcher intent is to find dresses, not learn about the history, or how to make, etc...

Wedding Dresses Results Page

Wedding Dresses Results Page

Google is

  • Topic based: Returns good content that is related, but not specific to the search term.
  • Semantic: Understands synonyms, pluralities, misspellings, homonyms and more
  • Focused on User Intent: What the user is trying to achieve.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

Anatomy of a SERP



Anatomy of a SERP


Search Features

Anatomy of a SERP

List of results

Search Listings

Anatomy of a SERP

Related Searches

Related Searches

Analysis of a Result

Search listing Title, Breadcrumb, Description
  • Title
  • URL -or- Breadcrumbs
  • Description

Analysis of a Result

Search listing Google Cache/Related Links
  • Google Cache
  • Related Links

Analysis of a Result

Search listing Sitelinks, Site Search
  • Site Search
  • Sitelinks

Search features and Featured Snippets

Google will show Search features and Featured Snippets for certain terms to provide their users with answers faster.

Logo Image
Events Image

Search features

Breadcrumb, Corporate Contact, Carousel, Dataset, Logo, Sitelinks Searchbox, Social Profile, Article, Book, Course, Event, Fact Check, Job Posting, Local Musiness, Music, Occupation, Podcast, Product, Recipe, Review, TV and Movie, Video

View all

How to rank for Search features

Structured markup using Schema.org vocabularies inline or using JSON-LD

View the full list of Google search features, and implementation guide in the Google Search Feature Gallery

Featured Snippets

Search Features

How to rank for Featured Snippets

  • Topic Research
  • Write copy that answers questions
  • Semantic HTML including ordered and unordered lists, tables and paragraphs

Learn more about Featured Snippets

Search Engine Ranking Factors

Search engine ranking factors are on- and off-site items that search engines use to evaluate a web property's placement in the search results for a certain query.

There are possibly


ranking factors

Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List - Backlinko
Google's 200 Ranking Factors - Search Engine Journal
Penguin is now part of our core algorithm - Google Webmaster Central Blog

Those who monitor and interpret Search Engine Ranking Factors


According to Backlinko, there are over 200 Search Engine Ranking Factors

"Some are proven. Some are controversial. Others are SEO nerd speculation. But they’re all here." - Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List by Brian Dean

The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

The Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors

Search Engine Land - The Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors

2016 Searchmetrics General Search Ranking Factors

Searchmetrics General Ranking Factors 2016

After 2016, Searchmetrics started publishing detailed industry reports to show the difference in factors by industry.

  • Travel
  • eCommerce
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Media

Search Engine Ranking Factors 2015
Expert Survey and Correlation Data

"Every two years, Moz surveys the opinions of dozens of the world's brightest search marketers and runs correlation studies to better understand the workings of search engine algorithms."

Search Engine Land

On Mar 23, 2016 Google's Andrey Lipattsevm stated that links, content and RankBrain are the top three ranking signals in Google's search algorithm.

Now we know: Here are Google's top 3 search ranking factors - Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land

Pagerank Rankbrain

  • RankBrain is a machine learning artificial intelligence system ...
  • If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries or keywords. - Wikipedia

Learn more about Rankbrain

Technical SEO best practices in Drupal 8

Ranking Factor Categories

On Site

  • Content
  • Architecture
  • HTML

Off Site

  • Trust
  • Links
  • Personal
  • Social


  • Quality writing
    Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Your content should be.
  • Keyword Research
    Is your writing using enough keywords from the topic your searchers are looking for?
  • Freshness
    Is the content new, or has it been updated recently?
  • Images, Video, News related to content or vertical
    Does the content provide other value beyond words about the topic?
  • Does the content answer questions?
    For informational searches, people are entering questions into Google. Answer them!
  • Negative Factor - Thin: Does the content lack substance?



A third of all searches performed in Google are for images and 12.5% of SERPs show Image Pack results


Is the site easily crawlable?


Is the site easily crawlable?

Have you ever crawled your site? Use a tool like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to see what you have actually created, and build reports on areas where you can improve.


Does the site work on mobile?

Make sure you use a responsive theme, and it passes the Google Mobile-Friendly Test

Consider adding Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) structured markup to your site. Drupal AMP module.


No Duplicate content


Does the site load quickly?


Does the site contain keywords in the url?

  • Use the Pathauto module to set friendly URLs
    • Set default patterns for all content types
    • Configure global settings
    • Train content editors to manually configure for page


Is the site secure?

  • Use HTTPS with an SSL certificate for all sites here on out.
  • Keep core and all modules up to date
  • Limit server access, and keep server up to date if not managed
  • Require strong passwords - Drupal Password Policy module



Negative Factor - Cloaking: Don't show different content to humans that you show to search engines.


Does the Page Title contain keywords?

Properly set up html title using the Drupal Token module's values in the Metatag module


Does the Meta Description describe the pages?

  • Add a "Teaser" field which can be used with the Token and Metatag modules for meta description and search results.
  • Same goes for a Feature Image field, used for OG/Twitter Card Meta Images.
Teaser Featured Image fields


Does the site use Structured data?

Schema.org markup in content & theme templates



Does the site use Structured data?

JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD)
using the Drupal Schema.org Metatag module



Now is the time to add every Schema.org markup you can. Every site should have:

In addition to the content specific Schemas you should add for Google Search features.


Does the site use Structured data?

The Open Graph Protocol enables any web page to become a rich object in a social graph.

Add using the Drupal Metatag Open Graph Submodule

Debug using the Facebook Debugger




Does the site use Structured data?

Using Twitter Cards you can attach rich photos, videos and media experiences to Tweets.

Add using the Drupal Metatag Twittercard Submodule

Debug using the Twitter Card Validator




Does the site use Structured data?

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Allows publishers to create mobile optimized content on Google.
AMP Drupal Module

Drupal AMP Drupal Module


Proper use of headers

  • Proper, ordered use of h1, h2, h3
  • Remove h1 from WYSIWYG since it is set in template
  • In the theme, remove h3 from block headers, to reserve for content use.
  • Negative Factor - Stuffing: Don't overuse keywords just for Search engines.
  • Negative Factor - Hidden: Don't use CSS or JS to hide words you want to be ranked for.

Offsite Factors


  • Authority: Is the site a trusted authority? External links
  • Engage: Bounce Rate
  • History: Has the domain/site been around?
  • Negative Factor - Piracy: Flagged for pirated content
  • Negative Factor - Ads: Too many ads above the fold

Offsite Factors


  • Quality of links
    Each link is graded on where it comes from, quality of domain, URL, place on page, etc...
  • Keywords in links
    Are the keywords for the topic in the link to your page?
  • Quantity
    How many links does your piece of content need?
  • Negative Factor - Paid Links: Don't buy links!
  • Negative Factor - Spam: Don't allow Comment/Forum Spam

Offsite Factors


  • Country: Same country as searcher
  • Locality: Same city/town
  • History: Has the user visited the site before?
  • Social: Has the site been shared in circles?

Offsite Factors


  • Reputation: Is your site respected on social networks?
  • Shares: Content shares

Tools for Content

Tools for those responsible for Content

  • Research
  • Create & Analyze
  • Report & Refine


Tools to Analyze Keywords/Topics/SERPS


Competitor/Topic Analysis

See also: Robbie Richards' The Best SEO Tools: 143 SEO Experts Cast Their Votes (Plus Leaderboard).

Create & Analyze

Tools to analyze content

Report & Refine

Tools to report on performance

Tools for Development

Tips & Tools for Developers

Google Search Quality Raters

Drupal 8 SEO Book

Drupal 8 SEO Book by Ben Finklea

Great resource, step by step guide to configuring Drupal 8 SEO basics.

Drupal SEO Starter Module

Drupal SEO Starter module

Stay up to date:

The end

Continuing the conversation:

Created by Jim Birch
Xeno Media, Inc.