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Drupal vs WordPress SEO: Which CMS does it better?

Choosing between the open-source WordPress and Drupal content management systems (CMSs) for your website is a major decision.

After all, once you’ve settled on one CMS, migrating your website to another can be a huge hassle. So as far as possible, you’ll want to pick the right CMS for your website from the start.

While you’re weighing issues like the availability of free themes, or the ease-of-use and learning curves for the two platforms, don’t forget to consider Drupal vs WordPress SEO. In other words, how suitable are each of these CMSs for search engine optimisation (SEO)?

If executed well, SEO can help bring in a significant chunk of website traffic on autopilot. You definitely don’t want to miss out on that.

With this in mind, the good news is that SEO is CMS-agnostic. In other words, you’ll be able to get great SEO results regardless of whether you use Drupal and WordPress.

But - and this is the important bit - no matter which one you use, it’ll be up to you to implement the right SEO practices that get your organic traffic going.

That said, though, Drupal and WordPress do have varying features that affect how you optimise your website for search engine traffic. So keep reading as we run through some of these differences in Drupal vs WordPress SEO.

Page load times

In general, visitors are unlikely to stick around to wait if your webpages are taking ages to load. Search engines take user experience and usability seriously, and accordingly, page load speed has been an SEO ranking signal for desktop searches since 2010, and for mobile searches since 2018.

What this means is that the faster your page load times, the higher your webpages are likely to rank in the search engine result pages (SERPs). So how do Drupal and WordPress stack up in terms of page load speeds?

Page load times - WordPress

The WordPress Core by itself is very lightweight, and is continually updated for speed. In March 2021 for example, the Core development team rolled out some changes to load CSS styles only for blocks being used on a webpage - previously, CSS styles for all blocks on a given WordPress site would be loaded, regardless of whether the blocks were used, which really slowed down page load speeds.

Although WordPress was originally designed as a simple blogging platform, continual improvement by web developers, WordPress users, and of course the Core development team has boosted its suitability for a wide range of content types. You can now customise WordPress to create your own social media site, video aggregator, eCommerce store, photo gallery, and so on, all without sacrificing page load speed or other site performance metrics.

That said, the WordPress theme and third-party plugins you use for your site can also increase your page load times. Caching your pages can help get around this issue, but you’d need to install a separate plugin for this as WordPress doesn’t include caching features out of the box. The best WordPress hosts offer caching as standard, however, further boosting your site’s response times.

Page load times - Drupal

On the other hand, Drupal offers built-in page caching options, which you can enable for website visitors. In fact, these caching features are enabled by default for websites using the Drupal 8 core or higher.

Additionally, whichever platform you use, it’s a good idea to implement Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) for your website. These CDNs cache your website in multiple global locations, helping you serve your content to visitors even quicker - no matter where in the world they are located. Both Drupal and WordPress offer user-friendly CDN modules/plugins, so there’s little to separate the two CMSs in this respect.

With Krystal’s Onyx Managed WordPress hosting you get access to our powerful and lightning-fast CDN service with rich media support and global load balancing, so users - and search engines - can access your content as fast as possible.

Page structure

Having a clean HTML page structure helps search engines better crawl and understand your webpages, and rank these for the relevant search queries. When thinking about Drupal vs WordPress SEO, bear in mind that the plugins (for WordPress) or modules (for Drupal) you use will affect your website’s eventual page structure - and hence the effectiveness of your SEO efforts.

Page structure - WordPress

If you use WordPress as your CMS, for example, be aware that adding certain plugins can add a lot of HTML bloat. (Page builders and mega menu plugins are major culprits here.)

All this extra HTML can complicate your page structure, and be detrimental for SEO if search engines have difficulty understanding your webpages on the backend.

Page structure - Drupal

Drupal websites serve content in the form of “views”. Depending on your website layout, you may end up nesting views within other views, resulting in a confusing page structure that’s harder for search engines to crawl.

In addition, don’t overlook the implementation of XML sitemaps on your WordPress/Drupal site. They help search engine crawlers identify the essential pages of your website, and are pretty much a standard feature of technical SEO.

WordPress provides basic built-in XML sitemap functionality from version 5.5 onwards, while you’ll need to install a separate module to add XML sitemaps to a Drupal site.

URLs

Which website URL is easier to understand:

https:/website.com/blog/hello-world/,

OR

https:/website.com/aldf24a3q334lka&id=p9df6cmxsgad/?

The first URL, I’m guessing.

Likewise, for SEO purposes, URLs that look like gibberish are a major turn-off. Instead, search engines prefer simple, logically constructed URLs that accurately describe what the webpage is about.

URLs - WordPress

The default WordPress setup displays the post ID in URLs, such as https:/website.com/?p=123/. This isn’t very readable, but you can easily change the permalink structure to something more appealing from the WordPress dashboard.

For example, you can set up your URLs to display a page category and a short description of the page.

URLs - Drupal

As for Drupal, the Pathauto module can help you automatically generate title-based URLs for your content nodes. This could be https:/website.com/category/node-title/ rather than, say, https:/website.com/?q=node/123/. Doing so similarly makes your URLs easier for search engine crawlers to “read”.

After that, it's good practice to redirect the less-readable node URL to the title-based one. This helps prevent the two URLs from being seen as leading to two separate but identical pages, which can result in a duplicate content SEO penalty.

Both WordPress and Drupal also have plugins and modules that allow for further URL customisation. This helps you write your URLs in a way that is not only readable to search engines, but is also to your liking.

SEO plugins and modules

After getting your WordPress or Drupal installation up, it’s time to start making it search engine-friendly. To do this, you’ll need to add the right SEO plugins (for WordPress) or modules (for Drupal) - and both these CMSs will have just what you need.

SEO plugins - WordPress

The WordPress plugin ecosystem is enormous, boasting over 58,600 plugins as of writing. And there is a great selection of SEO plugins to choose from, too.

Popular WordPress SEO plugins include Yoast SEO and All-in-One SEO. These help you tailor your webpages’ meta titles and descriptions and install XML sitemaps, among other features.

SEO modules - Drupal

On the other hand, Drupal has a smaller range of modules - currently, there are only about 6,100 of them for Drupal 9. However, you’ll still find modules with essential features for optimising your website for search engine traffic.

For example, the Metatag module lets you automatically generate meta tags, or structured metadata, for your webpages, while many Drupal users also swear by Pathauto (as discussed above).

Drupal vs WordPress SEO: The Verdict

When it comes to Drupal vs WordPress SEO, neither Drupal nor WordPress provides a significant edge over the other.

That’s because both of these open-source CMSs are equipped with the SEO tools you’ll need to get your website optimised for search. So to some extent, it doesn’t matter which CMS you go with, as long as you apply tried-and-tested SEO techniques, such as:

  • Conducting keyword research
  • Creating indexable, quality content
  • Building backlinks
  • Setting up XML sitemaps and clean URL structures

Also, keep a close eye on crucial SEO metrics, such as your page rankings, page load times and bounce rates, to monitor the success of your efforts.

If you’ve decided that WordPress is the winner of the Drupal vs WordPress SEO comparison, however, and are keen to build a WordPress website, then we have just what you need.

Krystal’s Onyx managed WordPress hosting makes it easy to boost your website’s search visibility and rankings, with key features such as:

  • High and continuous website availability: Your website will be stored in multiple containers and fully redundant web servers. This reduces downtime risk and ensures that search engines can always find your website, even under extreme performance conditions.
  • Lightning-fast hosting: As we’ve seen, page load speeds are a key ranking factor for SERPs. Onyx users benefit from Optane-accelerated NVMe SSD storage for both their web and database servers, and also have multiple cached copies of their website stored on edge-load balancers. The Onyx Pro plan and higher also include a CDN to serve media from servers closer to website visitors, further reducing page load times.

As a whole, Onyx users enjoy load speeds up to 200% faster than their peers using competing web hosting platforms. To experience the power of Onyx for yourself, sign up for a 30-day free trial here. If you’re still not sure - why not reach out to us? We’re always happy to help.

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