Common Dreams: Enhancing Drupal Configurations and SEO

Common Dreams: Enhancing Drupal Configurations and SEO


Facet Interactive, a digital consultancy, collaborated with Common Dreams, a significant news media publication. The partnership aimed to enhance Common Dreams' Drupal configurations, conversion rates, performance tuning, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The project was accomplished through strategic planning, technical execution, and continuous management.


Common Dreams encountered several issues, such as the need for Drupal Development Support and Drupal Architecture oversight when encountering performance and SEO issues on their Drupal site.

They were also challenged by news discoverability — Common Dreams aimed for instant rankings for high-volume news media events on Google.


Facet Interactive recognized that Common Dreams' primary focus was SEO and stability through Drupal support. As a news media publication, the key goal was driving breaking news and ranking well on Google's Discover algorithm. To have the right factors in place, Common Dreams needed a fast user experience with appropriate SEO standards in place.

Facet conducted a comprehensive Drupal best practices and SEO assessment and developed a roadmap to enhance the performance, accessibility, and visibility of the site's content.


Facet Interactive implemented several solutions, including:

  • Drupal 8 Best Practices Assessment and Remediation: Comprehensive evaluation of the Drupal website infrastructure, performance settings, Git management, static builds, and CI-CD processes. Review of Drupal best practices such as usage of contributed modules, custom modules, organization of views, and site building elements. Assessment of third-party libraries for up-to-date status and security risks. Evaluation of site maintainability and simplification of unnecessarily complex custom code.
  • Performance Tuning: Identification and optimization of website elements that took the longest to render. Review and adjustment of views and caching settings for SQL renders, caching, and HTML render caching. Profiling of long total throughput functions as per New Relic, and setup of SLA key transactions for continuous performance monitoring.
  • Cloudflare Cache Tuning: Implementation of a web application firewall to reduce nefarious attacks. Optimization of cache settings at the edge of the CDN to offload static assets from loading from the website. Implementation of cache purge to release files when a new update is deployed or a cache clear is issued from the Drupal website.
  • Front-End Development and Conversion Rate Optimization: Implementation of a lower third bar during the annual donor drive to balance conversion rate optimization with user experience and SEO. Careful consideration of the impact of pop-ups on user experience, load time, and SEO rankings.
  • Update from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9: Smooth and efficient upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 with minimal challenges. Optimization of the site for Drupal 9 plugins.


The project led to a 50% reduction in front-end page load times and a significant decrease in server costs due to an optimized Cloudflare Caching Strategy. They also implemented a Cloudflare Web Application Firewall to reduce bot traffic. SEO improvements were achieved through recapturing Google News rankings and increased Google Chrome Discover traffic.