Aaron is a relatively famous SEM/SEO and has obviously built a lot of sites. After he migrated his main site, SEOBook.com to Drupal and then even made a optimistic prediction about the future of Drupal I was curious about Aaron's experiences and wanted to see what he had to say about the process and why he likes Drupal. He was kind enough to respond with these answers.
1. What initially motivated you to migrate seobook.com from MovableType to Drupal?
I originally used MovableType, but I wanted to create a site with premium content and permissions based access. The Drupal premium module facilitated that quite well. Plus my developer really liked Drupal and saw it as being extensible enough to do everything I wanted (integrate with our affiliate program, create a structured online training program , offer page by page control of premium or regular access, allow me to offer free snippets on some of the premium content, integrate with vBulletin forums, and integrate with the Paypal IPN).
2. What CMS (or mix of CMS) do you use as the basis for new projects?
Honestly most of my projects usually come in a couple waves. A small mini-site using flat files or server side incles, put up so I can start promoting it right away, and then as I decide to grow it out I typically switch off to Drupal or Wordpress on most sites. The really easy small and bloggy type projects get Wordpress, but Drupal is used on the more complex ones.
3. Was anything about Drupal particularly hard to get used to? Hard to migrate to? Anything particularly easy and beneficial?
Honestly my programmers did a lot of the work and I could not have done it all without them (I am no good at programming)! I have used Drupal for years though...I ran a site called Threadwatch which was powered by Drupal.
The things that I have found cool about using Drupal recently are how easy it is to install most modules. And I love being able to use conditional blocks. It is kinda addictive thinking of things to add to the site.
4. What features surprised you the most after the migration?
I think the database load was a bit surprising. The site was on a really weak server, and MovableType was flat file. Once the site was live with Drupal it was much more database intensive. With our decent traffic load we needed to upgrade to a real server.
5. What do you feel is the best CMS for SEO? Is there such a thing or does it depend on how you use it?
I think strategy is important, but a bad CMS can hold even the brightest person back. Drupal is my favorite CMS, but I am probably biased towards it since my main site is powered by Drupal. :)
For small sites I like just rolling them by hand for optimal control over every small issue, but for larger sites I like Drupal and Wordpress a lot. Some of the plugins that allow you to use different page titles and h1 tags, and other related tweaks help boost traffic.
6. Any tips for improving Drupal and specifically SEO of Drupal?
Make sure you enable clean URLs. Nodewords is good for page specific meta description tags. Make sure to redirect example.com to www.example.com (or the other way around)...you don't want 2 versions of your site getting indexed.
If you use Drupal for a blog I think careful consideration of categories and promotion of featured content are important. Using a custom homepage that introduces people to your topic can help convert passer-byers into subscribers and later buyers. Our Blogger's Guide to SEO http://www.seobook.com/bloggers (now available in 20 languages - if you count Pig Latin) can help offer some tips here as well.
If you want to have a rather broad and diverse site it helps to map it out ahead of time so you can put things in logical locations. For example, it makes sense to put a forum on a subdomain, especially if it is not monitored as well as your blog or news channel is.