Search and Your Website
As a website owner, developer or builder, you know that getting web visitors is key to a successful web presence. In a world where the Internet rules and the fastest way to learn new things, locate the right products and services, or find user feedback is to use search, you have to follow the established online search practices if you want to be found by the people who are looking for the likes of what you are offering on your website. To give you an idea of how powerful online search has become in recent years, below are a few numbers provided by ComScore, a research company specializing in digital marketing intelligence:
- Google searches: 88 billion per month
- Twitter searches: 19 billion per month
- Yahoo searches: 9.4 billion per month
- Bing searches: 4.1 billion per month
Joomla 2.5 and SEO
As one of the most advanced Open Source content management systems in the world, Joomla! has been designed to provide you with all the features and functionalities that you need to make your website search engine friendly and ready to be found by your right audience. As you probably know, the process of
“improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results”1
is called SEO or Search Engine Optimization.
The two main functions of SEO are to drive traffic consisting of high-intent visitors ready to become prospects or customers, and to help build your online brand.
SEO has on-page and off-page elements, which you can review in detail in this very useful infographic by searchengineland.com. The great news is that Joomla! can help you with both of these elements, enabling you to build a solid SEO foundation that can be easily extended into a successful traffic-driven web presence.
SEO functionalities included in Joomla! 2.5
Figure 1: SEO-friendly Urls
According to Google’s Matt Cutts, the best website urls consist of not more than 3-5 words. From that point on, the longer the urls, the less ranking power they will have.
This is how your urls will look once your Joomla site is set up:
And this is how they will look after you have modified your access.txt file and switched on the SEO url feature, accessible in Joomla’s Global Configuration control panel:
Search engines can read the first type of urls, called dynamic urls, without any problems. However, it is common practice to use the second type, called SEO-friendly urls, instead. There are two reasons for this:
- Users tend to click more on url links that make sense and have relevant search words
- Dynamic urls are very often the culprit in what search engines might interpret as duplicate content, which in turn can affect negatively your page rankings in search results.
Joomla allows you to set up your SEO-friendly urls in two easy steps - by editing the Global Configuration on the admin back-end and by making a few minor changes to the access.txt file that resides in the root folder of your server. You can additionally modify the actual words that each url contains by editing that in the article text editor of your content or in your menu item setup panel.
SEO Browser Page Titles
Figure 2: SEO Browser Page Titles
Title tags, also referred to as "Browser Page Titles" in your admin backend (they are usually displayed at the top of a browser's window) are the most important SEO elements that directly affect the ranking of your individual pages. To be effective, each title has to be:
- Unique for each page,
- Extremely relevant to the content on that page,
- 70 characters long, max,
- Should include the key search word you are optimizing the page for.
This is how it works, as explained by seo.com:
"For example, let’s say you have an educational site that provides information and guidelines on teacher certification requirements. You’ve decided that the most important keywords for your site are “teaching certification” and “teaching requirements.” In this case, a page title along the lines of “Teaching Requirements for Teacher Certification” is highly relevant to the topic of the site. Spiders will crawl your site, and because the title is the first factor it sees, the spider will “read” it and then examine the rest of the page finding the keywords used in other places on the page to determine how relevant the title is to the rest of the content. If the content, H tags, and title tag all relate—you’re in business! This is why it’s so important to target the most critical keywords in the title tag."
With Joomla, adding the title tags is an easy and hassle-free process. You can add and modify the tags of all of your pages from the menu item setup panel.
SEO Meta Descriptions for All Your Pages
Figure 3: SEO Meta Descriptions for All Your Pages
Meta description is the brief summary that shows up under the url of each individual result that a user sees in the search results page after performing an online search query. While it is no longer considered of key importance as far as search engine rankings are concerned, it defines how successful your click through rate is (i.e. whether or not users will actually feel compelled enough to click on your page link). Meta descriptions shouldn't be longer than 160 characters.
Figure 4: SEO Meta Descriptions in Search Engine
Joomla enables you to add meta descriptions to all of your pages – even when you are creating a page that displays a whole category of articles. You can manage this process on two levels – at the menu-item level (for category pages) and at the article level (inside the text editor where you write your article).
Easy Image Titles for SEO
Figure 5: Image Titles for SEO
Search bots are not able to see images correctly. This is where the “alt” tags or image descriptions/titles come into play. They help make your images searchable, ultimately helping with your SEO. Joomla provides you with an easy-to-fill image dialog box 2, where you are conveniently prompted to include a short description for your image. This is one more easy-to-use SEO enhancing feature that can provide quick and relevant results.
Redirect for SEO Best Practice
Figure 6: Redirect Manager
In his article about Redirects and SEO, Stephan Spencer, an SEO expert and blogger says the following:
"Use of the proper kind of redirects is a matter of SEO “best practice”. Every site needs to have redirects (e.g. for example, from your non-www version of your site to your www version or vice versa). And if you don’t, you’re leaving money on the table. In addition, sites evolve over time and URLs change. And any time you make changes to your URLs — whether it’s to the domain, subdomain, subdirectories, filenames, or query strings — you need to ensure links pointing to the old URLs are still valued by Google and the other engines, and that their voting power gets transferred to the new URLs. "
Redirecting users from your old or non-existing pages, documents and other website assets to your new ones can be done in 3 easy steps using Joomla’s native redirect component. It is user-friendly, has zero learning curve, and the best part about it is that every time a web visitor hits a non-working page, the component lists the problem url, as well as how many times it was clicked on. You can then swiftly fix the problem by adding a new url to redirect future visitors to a page that works.
RSS for better SEO
Figure 7: Feeds Module
RSS will enhance your SEO efforts by helping you build more backlinks. As you know, the more backlinks you have to your site, the more Google and the other search engines will trust it and push it up in the search ranking results. The simplest way to use RSS for SEO purposes is to use Joomla’s syndication feeds module to set up RSS feeds for your content and post the feed links on your website and social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.), as well as on some of the various content aggregator sites that exist on the web, like feedage.com, etc. You can also share your RSS links with partners and other non-competing sites – as long as you constantly provide relevant and fresh content, many organizations might be willing to subscribe to and display your feed on their website, thus helping you build more backlinks.
Using all of the features highlighted above will provide a fast and easy way for you to establish and maintain the right SEO practices for your website. However, result-driven SEO is not just about titles and images. It starts before you even begin to build your site and is an on-going project that needs to be managed regularly and measured for success. Here are a few great resources that I would like to recommend. They will help you learn everything that you need to know to become your very own free and effecive SEO consultant:
- This is a very useful 8-part training series on keywords by wordtracker.com, which is free. It introduces you to the concept of keywords and explains why SEO starts with defining your main, category and page keywords, helping you understand how to find your best keywords and how to include them in your texts in order to build a steadily-growing, free, organic traffic to your site.
- To learn more about SEO and the way to implement it, read this searchengineland.com’s free step-by-step Guide to SEO.
- This is another article that offers a quick 5-step guide to jump-starting your do-it-yourself SEO program.
- The SEO Cheatsheet by SEOMoz gives you great tips on getting your SEO processes up and going in no time.
- The Web Developer SEO Cheatsheet by SEOMoz (4)is a great infographic, showing you how you have to structure content on your page.