Joomla SEO Checklist: 28 Tips To Rank in the SERPs
Despite the wide range of SEO tools available today, most business owners lack the resources to optimize their websites for search engines. They are at risk of failing to sustain their brand online without having a content management system such as Joomla. It greatly affects the site’s ranking, page speed, user experience, and visibility.
This Joomla SEO Checklist will help you with all of the SEO areas you should be focussing on for maximum search engine visibility.
What can Joomla do for your SEO?
Joomla! is a free, award-winning CMS and most popular open-source website software to publish web content. Joomla also has some very nice SEO features built right into the core of the CMS. So for smaller sites, you will not need any 3rd party SEO extensions. You may want to consider adding some extensions to get the most out of your SEO efforts for larger sites. There’s a good write-up here on the Top 20 Joomla SEO Extensions.
Plan Your Joomla Website SEO
Putting SEO as part of your core structure as early as planning your Joomla website design is an excellent start. Planning your SEO strategy is everything. Without a plan, you’ll just be spinning your wheels and never move forward.
- Outline your goals - These can be sales, newsletter signups, organic traffic, etc.
- Identify target pages - Look for pages on your site that you can get the most return on your efforts.
- Plan your content - Content can be text, videos, images, audio, etc. Make sure your content plan aligns with your goals and serves as a funnel to your conversion goals.
Now that you have your plan started let’s jump into the list of things you should check to ensure your Joomla website is optimized properly.
1 - Get the Right Type of Server
Going cheap here will give you headaches later. Get a quality hosting company that has optimized its servers for the Joomla CMS. Fast servers matter! Google is now rating website speed as a ranking factor.
2 - Learn the Joomla CMS Installation
Making sure that your Joomla website is installed properly will affect SEO more than you realize. Making sure all of the parameters have been properly filled out and set up is crucial.
3 - Joomla Global Configuration
If your site is already live, make sure you go through your global configuration settings and make sure all SEO-related items are properly set.
Go to your Joomla installation files and look for the "htaccess.txt" file, then rename it to ".htaccess." The version that works best used by Joomla! and mod_rewrite.
Go to the Global Configuration screen, and fill in the required parameters. Choose the System and Server tabs for some performance options, set Cache to On, and choose Conservative caching. Then set Gzip page compression to yes.
4 - Enable Your URL Rewriting and Search Engine Friendly (SEF.) URLs
Set your SEF URLs and URL Rewriting in your Joomla Global Configuration. Check the "Search Engine Friendly URLs" and "Use URL Rewriting" options and then choose "Yes" to enable them.
5 - Install JCE Editor
The JCE Editor is not only free; it also provides a whole bunch of cool features that will help you create, optimize, and maintain your Joomla website. It's a good component for Joomla! I highly recommend you use it and make it the priority item of your Joomla SEO checklist. JCE Editor will allow you to add HTML tags that will positively affect your SEO.
6 - Internal Linking Structure
When you write your content, always link to other content on your site that you want to rank. Complementing the current topic to reduce the bounce rate and increase the users' time on your website.
These SEO factors send positive search engine signals and increase your rankings over time through your internal links. A page with a good rank passes its "link juice" to other pages through internal linking. Ensure that each URL you want to get page rank juice is featured at the menu link.
7 - Setup Your Joomla Site Map
An XML sitemap lists all URLs (of the articles and pages on your website) in a format that Google can understand. Use a 3rd party Joomla components that can generate an XML sitemap automatically and keep it current every time you add content.
It is also a good practice to include an HTML sitemap. This is a publicly available page on your site that lists all the pages on your entire site. Search engines crawl these HTML sitemaps, and it helps with indexing and crawling subpages on your site.
8 - Google Search Console (GSC) and Bing (Webmaster Tools)
Register your Joomla site with Google Search Console (GSC), and follow its instructions on the steps you need to take. Please go into the GSC to indicate crawlers to fetch the XML sitemap, submitting it to Google Search Console and Bing WebMasters. Click on the links, verify your domain, visit the sitemaps tab, and then submit the sitemap file directly by adding its location.
9 - KeyWord Research & SEO Content Writing
Do your keyword research for the main (focus) keywords of your site. And the secondary (related) keywords which complement or are relevant to the main keywords. Do this before you begin writing your content articles. Your keywords should be at the center of your website design and your site structure.
10 - URL Structure & Configuration in Joomla
Build a proper and logical URL structure, especially if you have a larger site. Break your articles into several categories, and link these categories in the menu structure properly. They sound so simple yet a technically vital element of your Joomla SEO Checklist.
11 - Optimize Your Anchor Text
Clearly define any links you have on your website, which lead to an external resource to guide your visitors of what they are linking to and not become spammy. Use your keywords from the home or landing page to mutually benefit from the hyperlink. The words you use within the hyperlink are known as the 'anchor text.' Avoid being penalized by Google for link-building outside their best practice guidelines.
12 - Prepare Your Correct H1, H2, H3) Headings
Ensure the structure of your content with paragraphs and headings properly. Ensure that every page contains one correct H1 heading relative to your main topic on the page.
Use the Joomla editor to set the correct headings of your web pages. Use the Page Display options in the menu item to set a correct H1 Heading tag.
13 - Make your Heading (H1) different from the <Title>
Creating a similar H1 tag and a TITLE tag from your article's name is acceptable for search engines. Having slightly different H1 and TITLE tags containing your main or target keywords is better than having identical <H1> and <Title> tags.
It makes sense, for instance, the target keyword is "Joomla SEO checklist," then the suggested pairing can use:
Title: "Joomla SEO Checklist - Complete Guide for 2021"
H1/ Heading: "Joomla SEO Checklist - Best Tips To Rank in the SERP."
14 - Use Keywords in Page Titles, Names, and Alt-Tags of Images
The TITLE is one of the most important ranking factors you can control on your content that influences your pages' rankings. Optimize all of the <TITLE> tags in your pages and images that are readable for search engines and searchers. It is what users will see before they click through your pages. Ensure using your keywords are used in the page titles, names, and Alt-Tags of your images as they are highly relevant and easy to understand by humans and search engine crawlers.
15 - Optimize Images for SEO
Optimize every image for both SEO and page speed performance, do it right from the beginning. When you create the image on your personal computer or mobile device, make sure you set up the correct settings for its file type, size, resolution, and file name.
Ensure you make it small enough that even mobile browsers can access and download it on their device with a slow connection. Setting the image quality to 60% to 75% is good enough for the web and saves many kilobytes (kB's). Crop the image to the exact size it needs to be for your use case.
Ensure to add an ALT title and description for the image while adding it to your Joomla article. Use the JCE-editor to take the filename and use it as the alt-text if the filename is already relevant.
16 - Use Alt Tags and Image Dimensions
This tip is not specific to Joomla SEO, but the JCE editor can add ALT text to describe your image. Then add the dimensions right within the image upload tool.
Adding image dimensions to your images allows the "space" to load before the actual image does. It can help improve your page load times.
17 - Manage Your Metadata
Although meta keyword and meta description tags are not used by Google these days as a ranking factor, your meta descriptions and keyword tags are still relevant to SEO.
Edit each menu item and article’s metadata for your Joomla! website. Navigate to each menu item/ article and manually edit the descriptions and page titles. Your page title, <title> element in HTML, is used for your site's first line in the search results.
A meta description is used for your site's two lines of description in the Google search results. While Google ignores meta keywords, other search engines do use them. So it is a good practice to use these fields. Keep in mind that you should only use one primary keyword phrase for the keyword field and not try to add every keyword you want to rank for.
18 - Include Target Keywords in Meta Descriptions
You can get highly visible results if you implement them reflecting your target keywords. It will improve your click-through rate, which Google highly favors. Keep it natural; use keywords if they are relevant.
19 - Setup Microdata and Structured Data
Use structured data as a standard format to present information about a page of your site and its contents in a way search engines can understand. It defines your content in a context that is better to present, such as Products, Reviews, Articles, FAQ.s, How To, etc.
20 - Create a Blog and Start Blogging
The concept of Blogging or content marketing creates a web existence. This focus is on growing search engine traffic and social traffic and utilizing content. In general, blogs act as a traffic magnet which high-quality content leads to consistent quality traffic to your site.
21 - Optimize Your Contact / About Us Page
Google favors sites that have "real" businesses when it comes to ranking content. Google ranks businesses that are actual physical businesses. You can create legitimacy and authority by optimizing your contact page, about us page, and other landing pages.
In your content page, ensure to include your business Name, Address, Phone number, and Email, also known as NAP or NAPE. Connect your NAP to your Google My Business (GMB) local account. Use microdata to make it more readable. Include an embedded Google Map to your contact page to help link your business locally.
22 - Optimize Your Page Footer
Optimize your page footer as you did in your contact/ about page, including your NAP or NAPE. Link it to your Google My Business (GMB) account and your social media profiles. Please make it a great way to navigate to less important pages of your site.
Legitimate businesses provide privacy policies and other policies together with the terms of service page. These policies can make your website legitimate in the SERP, compared to those who do not have it.
24 - Optimize your website for fast page loading.
Website speed is a ranking factor if you desire consistent ranking in the SERP. Take the first step with hosting and a lot more SEO tactics you have to do for your Joomla website. Let's go over a few of the actionable tips to make your Joomla website load faster:
- Enable browser and server Joomla caching
- Enable GZIP compression
- Optimize images and specify dimensions, and enable image Lazy Loading.
- Leverage browser caching for page speed/ faster loading.
- Specify a default character set, “AddDefaultCharset UTF-8”.
- Pay close attention to mobile performance.
25 - Ensure your Joomla site is mobile-friendly
Ensure your Joomla website has included the mobile-friendly or fully responsive factors of your site. Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to make sure you know what necessary changes need to be done to make it fully responsive and mobile-friendly.
26 - Handle Duplicate Content Issues on your Joomla Website.
Duplicate content can wipe out your SEO efforts, especially when you link the same article to multiple menu items. You can fix these content duplication issues using online checker tools.
Avoid using both the www and non-www versions of your website. Use simple rules in your .htaccess file to fix this, making only one of those accessible and routing traffic from the non-preferred to the preferred one. Ensure to secure your SSL and enforce the HTTPS version.
27 - Use Redirects and Avoid 404 Errors
Avoid changing URLs on your website, and if you do, ensure to retain the alias; otherwise, your URL will change. Create a so-called 301-redirect that leads the old URL to the new one. You can use the Joomla core Redirect Manager for this.
Make your template display a nice-looking error page to your users instead of the ugly default Joomla error page.
28 - Use of SEO Audit and Audit Tools
Use SEO Audit tools and double-check the SEO status and ranking performance of your website. SEO tools like Ahrefs Site Audit, Google Search Console (GSC), Google Analytics Tools, etc., are great tools to evaluate technical issues with your Joomla website’s SEO.
An effective Joomla SEO checklist is crucial for any website to help achieve your business goals. Implement these Joomla SEO Checklist tactics to get your site ranking higher in the SERPs.
Any thoughts about converting the images WEBP images format? Is it too early? Google Page Speed recommends that already, but the images in this format are not compatible with the older browsers (incl. IE). Thanks
I think this list is great and covers most things. My only piece of advice I would add is that the web designer/Content maker should write the content for the end user/client and not think of SEO at first, this allows for more natural writing and prevents keyword stuffing. Once the content is written then you can go back over it and make changes to it for SEO purposes.
I have had great results just following this mantra and some of the rules above.