Because of our background in both Inbound Marketing, SEO and Joomla, we are constantly being contacted by business owners and marketers who have Joomla websites and are looking to improve their SEO rank of their website.
Because this is such a popular topic with many misconceptions surrounding SEO and because of our experience in both SEO and Joomla, I decided to write this blog to help educate Joomla users how to properly think about SEO on their website.
The SEO and internet marketing world has been in a dramatic and swift shift over the past few years and what previously worked wonderfully now is ineffective and in some cases will hurt your website! The first thing I would strongly urge you to do is fully educate yourself about how SEO has changed in the last few years. I have put together another blog that outlines the state of modern SEO and has some really great resources to educate yourself. Read my blog "Critical Info You Need to Know About SEO in 2013"
Now that you have a better understanding of the shift that has happened in the SEO world, let's zoom in and take a look at some things you can do to help optimize your Joomla website for SEO. Below are just a few of the techniques you can employ to help improve your SEO rankings.
First Preliminary Steps: Create & Verify these important accounts:
Install SH404SEF: This is our favorite SEO extensions for Joomla and gives you some amazing power in configuring and customizing your on site SEO. There are other options out there, but from our experience, this is the one we prefer. Here are just some of the things SH404SEF will help you with:
- Make your URL's search engine friendly (even more than the stock core Joomla SEF)
- Give you one central spot to update your entire page meta titles and descriptions. If you're not familiar with writing Meta Descriptions, read this blog.
- View all 404 pages and easily setup 301 redirects to the new URL
Use XMAP & Submit: Xmap is an awesome, free Joomla extension that you can install in order to easily create website site maps. Once created, you can log into Google webmaster tools and submit the website sitemap to be indexed by Google.
Create a Blog & Start Blogging: As explained in the article, "Critical Info You Need to Know About SEO in 2013", having good quality content flowing on your website is critical for modern SEO practices. We typically recommend to post a minimum of two times per week with posts being 500+ words, however, the more the better.
Find interesting and searched for topics to write content about. This can come from common customer and prospect questions or you can leverage Google auto-compete or Adwords tool to research various blog topics.
Optimize Contact Page: Your contact page should have some very key information to help associate your business with other listings around the web. Make sure to include your business Name, Address and Phone number (known as N.A.P.). Then link your NAP to Google+ local and use microdata to help bring more readability.
I'd also suggest including an embedded Google Map to your contact page in order to help link your business locally.
Expand Your Content: It's very important that you create completely separate pages for each service, product or location your business offers instead of simply lumping them all together on one page. This will give Google/Bing more content pages to crawl that are more specific to what your business is doing.
Make sure you diversify all the content as much as possible especially when working with multiple locations. Write specific content that's unique and engaging for each seperate page.
Optimize Your Footer: Just like your contact page, including your N.A.P. and linking it to your Google+ local account and including microdata is a great way to give google a very rich reading of your business and the various pages associated with your business.
Check Website Speed: Having a quick website that loads in 1.5-2 seconds (or less) is critical for both user experience but also SEO. When I was at Inbound 2012 marketing conference, Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz explained how the popular outdoors shop REI almost doubled their organic search traffic by increasing the speed of their website. This is because Google's bot can crawl more pages with less resources when they are fast and efficient.
We experienced the same effect when we switched to a faster server. The number of pages being indexed boosted up because the Google bot was able to crawl quicker. I'd recommend using GTMetrix.com to check both on Google's PageSpeed tool and Yahoo's YSpeed.
Look for Duplicate Content: Duplicate content can be a huge optimization killer. The problem is Google can't easily determine which piece of content is the correct one to index and associate with the link credit. This causes your overall page's rank to decrease.
You can view duplicate content in Google Webmaster tools or use 3rd party tools like SEOMoz to help audit and manage duplicate content.
Much of the duplicate content that occurs in Joomla (due to categories, tags, etc) can be cleaned up with SH404SEF and/or .htaccess rewrites.
Titles as H1: Make sure your page titles are all marked as H1's. This is done with most templates in Joomla right out of the box, however, not all of them. I've also see a few some Joomla websites that have been modified where the titles no longer have H1's in them. The H1 tag is used by Google's algorithm to easily detect the subject of the page (along with page title).
There are almost countless other things you can do to help improve both your on-site and off-site SEO on your Joomla website. We've covered just a few of the less commonly talked about ones. If you have specific questions on SEO, you can comment below or post in the Q&A forum on our website.