Preparing Your Joomla for SEO

There are ways to market your Joomla site and attract more visitors, but SEO is still one of the most effective internet marketing tool to use. With the right SEO campaign, you can appear on the first page of search results; this means getting the attention of millions of potential visitors. Although Joomla is not designed to be SEO-friendly out of the box, there are simple things you can do to prepare the site for SEO and also steps you can take during the setup process to assist.

Use JCE Editor

For maximum flexibility, I highly recommend installing the JCE Editor extension. It is a free extension that replaces Joomla’s built-in content editor. If you are serious about SEO – or about displaying your content the way you want them to be displayed – then this is definitely the WYSIWYG editor for you.

JCE Editor grants you access to certain things that the built-in editor doesn’t. I love how easy it is to add Alt tags to images and other web elements as I arrange my post using JCE Editor. It is also possible to tell the editor to NOT strip codes added for SEO purposes. When you publish an article or other web content, you don’t have to worry about losing important bits of SEO-friendly tags.
On top of that, JCE Editor allows you to define image dimensions during the upload process. Instead of having to wait for the actual image to load, your visitors will see an automatically-generated placeholder of the right size. This easy step will help speed up your site’s loading time, which in turn will improve its SEO performance.

SEO-Friendly URLs

Joomla uses parameters and strings in its URLs for various reasons. Although the default URL format from Joomla works really well with a wide range of servers and hosting services, it is not the best approach to use when you are serious about SEO. What you need is SEO-friendly URLs.

Instead of the standard [index.php?option=com_content&view=article] format, you can tell Joomla to display the title of the page as part of the URL. This is great for SEO, since search engine crawlers will quickly pick up keywords included in the URL. To do this, switch Search Engine Friendly URLs to Yes on your Settings page.

You should also activate URL rewriting. What it does is remove the /index.php/ prefix from your URLs. URLs are cleaner and more accessible with this option turned on. Most hosting services support the use of URL rewriting, as long as Joomla has the permission to modify (or generate) .htaccess files.

Optimize Your Meta Data

Meta tags are very important in SEO. They contain valuable information that help crawlers understand what your pages are all about. Meta description and title tags in particular are crucial to your SEO efforts. Normally, you would add Meta tags as you post new pages to your Joomla site. However, editing old pages – especially in bult – and optimizing them for SEO can be a painstaking task to complete. You have to open them one by one, do the edit and update individual pages accordingly.

Some extensions help simplify Meta data management in Joomla. SEO Boss and Meta Tag Manager are great examples of such extension, although there are plenty of options to choose from. A few things to remember when managing your Meta data:

– Keep titles short (no more than 50-60 characters) and your Meta descriptions concise. You want to include relevant keywords without stuffing too much into these tags.

– Meta keywords are no longer relevant in today’s SEO practice, but you should still at least include a few tags that represents the page well.

– Avoid keyword stuffing. Although these tags are prioritized by crawlers, adding keywords that are not relevant to the actual content of the page will only get you penalized and can actually hurt your SEO performance.

– Never use the same title and description for more than one page.

– Avoid adding the name of your site and the URL of the page to these tags. They already appear by default, so adding them is redundant and will only make your tags longer with no real benefit.

Be Consistent with URLs!

This is a common problem many site owners still neglect to address. When setting up your URLs, be sure to use either www or non-www URLs across the site consistently. You can choose one or the other – both work just as well – and set up your .htaccess file to forward traffic accordingly. For example, you can choose not to use www at the beginning of every URL and use this .htaccess code:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}

RewriteRule (.*)$1 [R=301,L]

to handle redirections for you. Whenever users access your site using www, the server will redirect to the non-www version of the same page.

The same principle applies to when you add cross-linking inside your post. Be consistent and you will see a significant improvement in SEO performance across the site.