Mtn. Dog Media

Drupal 101

Drupal 101

Drupal is Favored by Developers Not Designers

As we continue to grow and gain new clients we are always eager to learn about other Content Management Services available, such as Drupal so that we can offer a wider variety of services to our future clients!

What is Drupal?

Drupal is a set of computer programs that access a database and deliver information through a web server. In order to run Drupal you need 3 different parts set-up. First, a way to run your programs, which is accomplished using PHP as the programming language. Secondly, a database which is usually mysql with phpmyadmin as a way to access the data and easily manipulate it and view information. Thirdly, a server with Apache being the preferred and highly recommended web server for Drupal. Drupal is a CMS, Content Management System, like WordPress or Joomla. Features specific to CMS’s include multiple user access, multiple permission options, and a separate view for administrators. However, Drupal differs from WordPress and Joomla in that its content is treated as individual pieces called nodes, which when collected together are called views. Nodes are separate from any design such as css and will be discussed more in the next section.

What Keywords Do You Need to Know to Understand Drupal?

  • Core- Drupal downloaded from drupal.org
  • Module- something that extends Drupal, similar to plugins with WordPress
  • Content type- template for content on your site (article or basic page)
  • Fields - places for  information inside the content type, such as a phone number or name
  • Nodes- pieces of content you create by adding content and picking type equals node
  • View- displays multiple nodes in one place
  • Aggregator - collects news feeds from outside your site

How Does Drupal Work?

When someone requests your website by typing your url in the browser, this request goes through the internet to the web server (Apache), which connects to the program written in php and gathers all the necessary files and graphics. This is similar to an HTML page request, but with Drupal the sites data is not in the request but rather stored in the database (mysql). The php functions are very quick, which is why Drupal can be preferred for more complicated sites. The completed page then returns through the web server to the browser where it was requested and the requested page is displayed on your screen.

What does a Drupal Site Contain?

  • Program Files - everything except sites
  • Sites Files - graphics, custom programming and design files

Workflow of Creating a Site

  • Add content by clicking the add content button
  • Pick the kind of content you want to add, for example adding a menu link or basic page
  • Add site details such as the slogan or title
  • Pick your Appearance by choosing a theme
  • Create an optional sidebar with dynamic content 
    • Go to  structure > blocks > disabled blocks and choose the content to be displayed
    • Dynamic content examples: recent blog posts, top news stories, etc
  • Create modules to add features like polls or SEO tools

Where can you find support for Drupal?

Drupal is more than a CMS, it is also a community of developers like WordPress where there are lots of plugins or in Drupal's case modules to add to your site with reviews and updates. Answers to questions or new modules can all be found here: https://www.drupal.org/documentation

How to SEO Optimize A Drupal Site?

Pathauto

This feature is similar to how Permalink works in WordPress where you can create relevant path aliases such as “/about/my-top-sites” instead of the automatically generated path such as “/about/node/123”.  This module can be downloaded and installed here: pathauto.

Global Redirect

This feature prevents multiple paths for the same page since Drupal creates both a clean path alias for each page on a site (for example “content/about-us”) and a path using the page identifier (for example, “node/1234”). This module can be downloaded and installed here: global redirect.

Metatag

This feature allows you to provide data about your website. The meta keywords tag helps improve the rankings and display of a site in search engine results and should contain your keywords. This module can be downloaded and installed here: metatag.

Site Verification

You can verify your site and domain ownership for search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. There are two types of verification methods supported by Drupal: adding meta tags, or uploading a specific file, which you can upload directly in the modules interface. This module can be downloaded and installed here: site verify.

XML Sitemap

Sitemaps assist search engines to more efficiently crawl your website and keep the results up to date by better recognizing any updates you make. This feature creates a sitemap that conforms to the sitemaps.org specification and it can be set-up to automatically submit to Google, Bing, and Yahoo! search engines. This module can be downloaded and installed here: xml sitemap.

Page Title

The page title play a key role in how search engines locate relevant information so the ability to control the page title is essential. This feature lets you specify patterns for how the title should be structured and on content creation pages, specify the page title separately to the content's title. There are two modules that can be downloaded to enhance the page title here: page title.

Menu Attributes

In Drupal you specify some additional information for menu items such as id, style or rel. You can set rel to no follow for certain items to enhance the flow of pagerank through you site. You can set the id to allow for easy jquery manipulation and you can stylize the items as needed. This module can be downloaded and installed here: menu attributes.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics can be easily integrated with your Drupal site allowing you to track and optimize your site. This module can be downloaded and installed here: google analytics.

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