Higher Rankings and Basic SEO for Your Joomla! Website
Google’s algorithm is constantly being modified to show “quality sites” in their search results. Many things like site speed, information architecture, and page design are all contributing factors to your SEO. Search Engine Optimization has many aspects; one of the most important is the integration all of your online marketing tactics and making them work together. If you have a Joomla! Website, your techniques need to be adjusted to work with this particular Content Management System (CMS).
Search Engine Friendly URLs
In Joomla, part of the URLs are pulled from the menu aliases, so you have to keep in mind the website’s information architecture as this will affect your URL structure (i.e.: www.example.com/classes/music/).
When Google crawls your website, it looks at the keywords in the website’s URLs so it is essential to include keywords in the URLs. You should enable the Search Engine Friendly URLs setting to avoid having a link that doesn’t make sense to neither humans and nor search engines (i.e.: http://www.example.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1).
You should ask your hosting provider which type of web server you are using and follow the instructions provided in the Joomla documentation for your particular web server.
Redirect www to http://
Search engines see the URLs www.example.com and http://example.com as two separate websites causing your page rank to be split. You also run the risk of Google considering the two websites duplicate content. The way to avoid this in Joomla is to redirect the non-www to www. This is done in the .htaccesss file. You should follow the Suggested Master htaccess file provided in the Joomla documentation.
On-page Optimization for Joomla Articles
A title tag determines what the page is about. They also appear on the Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERP), so make sure to write a title that encourages the searcher to click on it. In Joomla, if you want to point to an article, you have to assign a menu item to it; therefore, title tags are also created under menu.
You can add a customized title tag by:
- Editing the menu item
- Click on Page Display Options
- Type in your title in the field Browser Page Title
Keep in mind that Google takes time after you change it to reflect changes. Also, make sure the title is less than 70 characters, as this is the limit Google displays in search results.
<meta name="description" content="This is an example of a meta description. This will often show up in search results.">
Meta description tags, while not important to search engine rankings, are extremely important in converting a user to clicking on your link shown on the search engine result pages (SERPs).
When editing an article in Joomla, you can edit the meta description under “Metadata Options”. The meta description should include keywords and should be no more than 155 characters.
You have control of your template’s headers, styles, and formatting in the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) file usually found under /template-name/css/template.css. Articles in Joomla should always have a title. This title should be assigned style “Heading 1” (H1) and it should contain keywords.
Many Joomla templates use the Heading 1 for the website title and add a Heading 2 to the article title. To maximize your on-page SEO, you should change this:
- You can change it manually on the template on the php file.
- You can get an extension to do this.
- You can hide the article (page) title from the “Article Options” (on the side) then add the title manually on the WYSIWYG and apply the Header 1 style with the drop down menu.
- All the images that are uploading to the Media Manager should include keywords in the title of the image.
- When inserting an image in an article, it should include the ALT attribute. In Joomla, you can do this by opening the insert/edit image box fill it the field labeled “Image Description”. ALT stands for alternative text and its function is to show text that describes an image when the image does not load properly, as well as, to provide a description for impaired users who using a screen reader to surf the web.
- By default, the Joomla robots.txt file blocks the search engine bots from indexing your images folder. If you want your images to appear in search results, you should go to the hosting directory and find the robots.txt and edit it to allow your images to be shown in Google results. All you have to do is eliminate one line “Disallow: /images/”.
Many times when we write long articles, we want to show only a snippet and a link that takes the reader to the full article. This can easily be done in Joomla. However, the default for this anchor text is “Read More + title of the article”. One way to optimize your posts is to eliminate the “Read More” portion of the anchor text. Your anchor text links should contain keywords that describe your article, not something vague such as, read more, click here, etc. You can choose to only show the title of your article and removing the “read more” portion. To change it, go to Article Manager Options and select “Hide” for “Show ‘Read More’”.
Some recommended Search Engine Optimization extensions are MijoSEF, sh404SEF, and JoomSEF.
Other things to remember
Choose the right keywords. Use Google keyword tools to help you figure out which keywords are relevant for your business and brand. Keywords need to be specific (i.e.: yoga vs. yoga classes for pregnant women) and they need to appear in key places on your page.
You should create a sitemap and submit it to the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) Extensions such as Xmap or MijoSEF are very helpful in this process.
Google is looking to see who is talking about your site, so encourage people to share your content. Extensions such as SP Share are great to allow your visitors to easily share your web pages and, best of all, it is free.
If your site is still not being ranked, try adding more pages to your website to improve your search ranking. In SEO less is less, so less content will equal to low rankings.