Display Suite, URLs for SEO

"Display Suite allows you to take full control over how your content is displayed using a drag and drop interface. Arrange your nodes, views, comments, user data etc. the way you want without having to work your way through dozens of template files. A predefined list of layouts is available for even more drag and drop fun!

"By defining custom view modes, you can define how one piece of content should be displayed in different places such as teaser lists, search results, the full node, views etc."

I hardly have the words but... I'll try. This module is the greatest thing I've found in forevs! How have I lived without it all these years? Miserably, that's how. It does exactly what it says it does. Wow. Wow.

Today in web development, a friend mentioned that an article with "1.4 Billion" in the title turned into 14-billion in the URL... kind of a big difference! This reminded me that I recently stopped stopping the display of stop words in my URLs due to Google's better abilities at reading "natural language" these days. Then I went on to rant like a freak about punctuation in URLs—other than that which belongs there, you know the ones, colon, forward slash, hyphens and periods for file extensions—it does not belong! Well, other things either have a specific use or they render as some wacky UTF code. Question marks are for queries. Dollar signs are for variables. Parentheses and curly brackets and asterisks DO NOT BELONG in URLs. And, is that an exclamation mark!? (Well, that there is kind of an interrobang, but I digress.) 

That's when my friend, who actually happens to work for Google (though not in the ranking algorithm department) shared his preference for underscores. More readable he says.

I reiterated the thing I've explained so many times over the years. Hyphens between words in a URL delineate each word as a separate entity. Underscores between words link those words into that specific phrase, but the individual words are lost, as well as potential combinations of those individual words. "teapot-cabinet-cheese-hat" is much more malleable than "teapot_cabinet_cheese_hat." Google has improved though and the underscores are not the ruin of SEO that they once were. (That assessment is debatable.) But, like most SEO elements, they count in their small way toward a better user experience, and even if it's an older standard, it is a reliable standard in that it may not be required, but it definitely works. There is no benefit to underscores, other than satisfying (incorrect) aesthetics ;)
 

Even a GUI treats words separated by hyphens differently than those separated by underscores. Double click on any portion of "teapot-cabinet-cheese-hat" and you will get that single portion. Double click on any portion of "teapot_cabinet_cheese_hat" and the entire thing will be selected. It's a thing!

And, I like a semantic URL as well as semantic file names. I name files and folders that have dates in them with the year first, then month, then date, like /2017-07-13/ so that sorting displays them in chronological order. Putting the month or date first makes funky lists.

I've extrapolated this to image/file naming like this: say I have a page where I need to show screenshots from four types of pages that have 2-3 variations each... Okay, I actually had to do that today, so here are my actual file names:

example-clocks-dark.jpg
example-clocks-light.jpg
example-twitter-hashtag.jpg
example-twitter-mention.jpg
example-twitter-offline.jpg
example-weather-offline.jpg
example-weather-online.jpg

Therefore, in a list of hundreds of images, because of alphabetical sorting and semantic naming, all of the images pertinent to this display are grouped together and displayed in descending levels of specificity. 

Have I mentioned I like to organize things and make systems?

Anyway, semantic and well-delineated URLs and file names are all peaches and bourbon, but the <title></title> matters, too. The H1 matters. The H2s matter! There is a maximum character length for each of these (around 50-60 for the Title). For the H tags, there are a maximum number per page that are acceptable. I've been alerted by various web tools that a page has too many H2s... Ooookay.

Images, obviously, MUST have their alt tags properly filled out. I like to go the extra inch and write what the image is or is for, rather than some choppy, vague words like "blue button" or "flower". What is the button for? What kind of flower is it? The alt tags are for screen readers. They're meant to help. It must be insufferable for people who need this service to deal with the millions of sites out there that treat 503 compliance like it doesn't matter.

All of these little technical details matter. The meta description. The hreflang tag. Schemas and all those Open Graph tags for displaying content properly in LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and whatever else... Lord, could we have a standard? Is that so much to ask? I see <head> tags with 30+ lines of og: tags for various social media... this can't be sustainable, can it? A small set should cover most circumstances. It's a title, summary/description, date, author, picture, link, publication/site name if you're fancy... That's about it, no?

The real deal is quality content. (But don't forget https and page load speed!) No, really, I mean it. Nothing don't mean nothing if the quality of the content is irrelevant, outdated, duplicated, displayed in a terrible design that makes users flee your site and give you a wretched bounce rate... 

The best thing for getting a high ranking, is to have a high ranking. Because those sites get the most impressions and click throughs, they get the most traffic, so they get more links, so they have the most authority... and repeat. It's turtles all the way down, man. Google's ranking algorithm, as much as it advocates making good, quality, relevant, useful content (and thanks for that big G) ... it is not a public service. Much like the news. Somebody has to pay the bill. If you are a small company trying to compete against larger, more established websites with more brand recognition, you might as well budget for paid placement now. Considering the amount of work it takes to figure out what to write, what to show, how to put it all together, to do research on competitors, figure out which words pr phrases you have a chance at getting a "share of voice" of... just buy the paid search placement. Smarter. Not harder.