BRIXS Group - An SEO Perspective

BRIXS is a new employment agency which specializes in recruiting, payroll, and career guidance for job seekers, college graduates, employers, the self-employed, and professional athletes. Through daily contact with specialists and relevant companies and organizations, BRIXS know exactly what is happening in the workplace and which candidates and positions are available or becoming available.

As part of their marketing strategy, BRIXS wants to profile and promote their business through their website. Yet a quick glance at search results showed that their previous website was nowhere to be found and that the competitive and mature industry offers little space for start-ups to gain a decent SERP let alone to rise fast in page rankings.

Why Drupal was chosen: 

Drupal was chosen primarily because of its flexibility, security, modularity, stability and the rich availability of all kinds of contributed modules.

The secondary reason is its architecture and structure; specifically Drupal's logical processing of functions and hooks which is key to its flexibility and provides developers with the opportunity to customize output in numerous ways.

Additionally, its worth mentioning the hierarchical taxonomy system which allows content to be categorized or tagged with keywords for ease of access.

Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome): 


To find and implement methods through which a new job posting website could achieve competitive SERPs against industry giants like Monsterboard and Indeed, thus becoming visible to a bigger audience and realizing an increased CTR (Click-Through Ratio).


Pre-project analysis showed that the leading companies in this field gained their lofty positions mainly by being longer established than their competitors. Other important factors for their ongoing success include marketing budgets, and the size of their business networks and high-profile corporate connections; all of which a small start-up business would struggle to compete with.

Luckily for BRIXS the analysis also showed that cutting edge technologies implemented by the same industry leaders is not what you would expect given their massive budgets. Thus an opportunity presented itself:

Realization of a semantically-enhanced and 99.9% perfect website (the internet is dynamic, so a 100% score will forever be impossible).

Of course usability and backward compatibility are equally important factors to take into account but that is a case study in itself and won't be covered here. Instead, we will focus solely on technical SEO and server performance.

Applied methodologies

To measure the effects of technical SEO implementations the following test tools were used

Analysis of alternatives

New vs. current Doctypes

HTML5 is fast becoming the markup of choice and comes with the added kudos of perhaps stealing a technical lead over competitors with long established websites based on older core technologies. HTML5 offers many new semantic elements which may provide some hidden enhancements but at the time of writing Browser and search engine support is still quite incomplete and inconsistent.

We took a pragmatic approach and chose to stick with XHTML using the XHTML+RDFa DOCTYPE. But further than that, we implemented the semantics made available by

RDFa vs

From an SEO point of view there now is practically only one choice for coding websites with structured data, namely Although RDFa came first, is native to Drupal and provides more extensive vocabularies is the only structured data set that is supported by all major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Yandex and Bing) while others (Baidu, Ask) are showing interest.

To bluntly put it, RDFa will never have that kind of support and in the cruel world of SEO and commerce this is what counts.

Having made the choice to go with the following problems arose

  • isn’t part of Drupal (yet?)
  • Existing modules don’t cover the full extent of what can provide

So how did we go about implementing

In short, just about every tpl.php was customized and we implemented an insane amount of theme hooks!

A call to all

The developers are seriously interested in contributing to modules that help implement in Drupal while maintaining the freedom to work outside the box. Therefore any and all are hereby invited to study the HTML source of the BRIXS Group website and to contact the developers to open discussions and chew over ideas on how we as a community could develop modules in such as way as to handle the breadth of structuring possibilities that can provide.


Drupal is open source, so is Linux, Microsoft isn’t. Enough said.

Varnish vs. stacked cache providers

Varnish is an amazing tool, but turned out to be a lot slower than the current stack of cache providers configured on the server:

  • Drupal cache
  • APC
  • Memcached
  • Boost
  • mod_pagespeed cache extend

All of the above modules are configured for performance and to cooperate with each other as required.

During development the server was configured with Varnish as a reverse proxy, but measurements showed an increase in download- and response-time. These increases could add up to 35ms per request.

Nginx vs. Apache

Nginx can be fast but creates a lot of configuration issues and errors that can’t be overcome when used in combination with mod_pagespeed and other server candy. Configured as a reversed proxy on the same server it created many problems with the server’s stack of cache providers. Many mod_pagespeeds modules stopped working and the server became slower because both servers needed to be running next to each other on the same VPS, which has only a single processor and a maximum of 3GB ram available.

The decision for not using Nginx can be reconsidered when scaling to multiple servers with a reverse proxy over multiple VPS's. But for our use case, definitely not worth it.

What's been left out

Due to the available hosting budget, the website is served using one local VPS. The final step in serving a fast-as-lightning website should be the incorporation of a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This was beyond the scope of the original project but will certainly be considered when the expected increase in website traffic boosts revenue. Until then, it's just not feasible.

For now BRIXS is focused on the Dutch employment market and therefore the website is hosted in the Netherlands. This effectively guarantees fast response and download times when you visit the site from any location from within Holland; although statistics from international visitors are also impressive.

So that's the first phase of the project complete. For the second phase we have a wish list of a half-dozen or so new custom modules. When funding becomes available for development and marketing (driven by the previously mentioned increase in traffic) we will have a better idea of what more can be done.

The potential for a responsive design and a mobile version of the website also are on our wish list. But so far as SEO is concerned there are pros and cons that must be considered and evaluated.

For instance, in many cases responsive web design (RWD) simply scales and re-aligns content. Unless you use Ajax loading (which is SEO Russian roulette), it doesn't benefit download size. In fact, the additional JavaScript and CSS requirements would likely increase load-time, which is a disadvantage for SEO.

On the other hand, a 'true' mobile website could reduce download size by delivering to the device only the most important and relevant information.

Aside from these technical SEO considerations, there are other factors too. Some of us think a responsive design may not be needed because soon just about every mobile device that is coming onto the market has a Retina or HD display. This might suggest resolution won't be an issue in the near future. But that's a side note because it's a personal opinion and we know enough developers who disagree with this, even within our own development team. Needless to say, internal discussions are ongoing.


After achieving extreme low website/server response times and near technical perfection Google indexed 8500 pages within the first week and started showing rich snippets within 48 hours of website launch. This resulted in an 800% rise in unique visitors and a 1100% rise in page views within the first two weeks. Within six weeks visitors were up by 1200% and pageviews by 1300%.

Who dares to guess where this will end?

Special thanks go out to Tezza for all his input and taking the content of the case study to the next level. =)

Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen: 

Most of the listed modules are essential for general site-building purposes. SEO-specific modules include:

  • Caching and speed

    • APC
    • Boost
    • Entity cache
    • Memcache
  • SEO

    • Global Redirect
    • Google Analytics
    • Meta tags quick
    • Open Graph meta tags
    • Pathauto
    • Page Title
    • Redirect
    • RobotsTxt
    • Token
    • Views404
    • XML sitemap
Team members: 


kang0326’s picture

could you please let me know which theme you using?

I really really reallly like your theme

Pls pls pls

Jvon3L’s picture

Unfortunately for you there hasn't been made use of a downloadable theme. Everything about this theme is custom designed and build. Sorry to disappoint you.

Zaka’s picture

Dear kang0326,

The theme we used for this website is a custom theme, which is made by Jvon3L. Since our aim is to achieve high performance and correct output, this theme will not have an optimal performance for websites without an SEO perspective.

Friendly regards,


shamio’s picture

This site looks nice and according to the modules you listed and also other optimizations you did using introduced websites, its clear that this site is made by professionals. I visited the site and i only have one question and that the language of site. Why didn't you add English language to this site? However i know its based on Netherlands customers but i think its better to add English language to this site too. Also as another member asked, its would be nice if you tell the theme you used in this site too.

Jvon3L’s picture

Adding additional languages was above budget and outside the scope for the first version of this website. Maybe somewhere next year this can be reconsidered but I highly doubt it though. The target audience is mainly Dutch and so far there are no intentions of taking the company abroad. Therefor there is no commercial interest for BRIXS to add English nor any other language.

shamio’s picture

OK, i understand it. I just said it because your website could have non Dutch users like me and when i visited it, i liked to know the content of it :). But when you are only located in Netherlands, so having more languages is not needed.

Jvon3L’s picture

I understand your desire for being able to read a site you visit and on top of that I believe that even within Holland it would serve it's purpose to add English as an additional language. But in this case we're talking about a start-up business which simply can not afford the extra costs of publishing all articles and job postings in multiple languages. The additional editorial work would require an extra person to be hired without expecting any extra revenue for it in return on the short- and mid-term.

Once the company has grown beyond a certain size this will be a different story, but heck, maybe within a couple of years there will be decided to expand abroad. Who knows what the future will bring? Never say never...

Optalgin’s picture

This case study is inspiring.
It's obvious you know what you are doing and doing it well
Thanks for sharing

Jvon3L’s picture

Thanks for your kind words. I hope you also read something that can help you advance.

Drupalism’s picture

Very insightful SEO case study for Drupal. You guys rock!

Samuel Lavoie’s picture

Impressive case study for optimization purpose and the awesome end results, speedier, accessible, semantics. Congrats to the team!

Plazik’s picture

Which module are you using to aggregate all css and js into one file?