Part 2 of Joomla SEO
Are you Joomla SEO friendly is the question I should ask you first if you are thinking about using Joomla CMS (content management system) and want to know if Joomla is search engine friendly before you take the big jump.
Before we get into Joomla SEO, I want to make sure you are aware that once you start search engine optimization (SEO), you can't stop or even take a week SEO vacation because your competition doesn't and is always watching your mistakes.
YOUR POOR RANKING MIGHT NOT BE JOOMLA's FAULT
You can have an SEO friendly Joomla site and still rank very badly on Google's search engine result pages (SERPs)! Your poor ranking might have nothing to do with Joomla itself, and a lot to do with you, your web designer, or your SEO consultant!
Just like any other CMS, you can't just install Joomla and leave it as is and expect it to be SEO friendly, or optimized for SEO! You will still have to do some work, not a lot, but a tiny bit after you install Joomla!
IS JOOMLA SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX?
You can't install Joomla, or any other CMS (content management system) like WordPress for example, and expect your Joomla site to be SEO friendly. But let's go ahead and answer the question - Yes, Joomla is SEO friendly, BUT not right out of the box!
Like many other content management systems (CMS's), you will need to fine tune and further tweak (will be discussed later in this article) your Joomla site to achieve higher ranking and take your Joomla site where no other Joomla sites ever went before - Joomla search engine optimization heaven!
ENABLING JOOMLA SEO FEATURES
Joomla 3x (and earlier versions) comes with SEO friendly features that will make you glad you picked Joomla to design your personal, or business website! Big companies, and government agencies picked Joomla for not only its capabilities, but also because of its SEO friendly features!
JOOMLA SEO SETTINGS
The Joomla SEO settings has 5 options that you need to configure depending on your Joomla search engine optimization needs. You can access Joomla search engine optimization settings by first going to System - > Global Configuration.
Note that before enabled Joomla SEO features, there are two (2) important requirements you need to implement:
- Rename the htacces.txt to .htaccess
Joomla is able to create and parse SEF URLs (and other formats) and does not depend on the web server's (Apache and non-Apache server) URL rewriting capability as long as the mod_rewrite module is enabled.
To take advantage of Joomla SEF, you need to make sure that the server configuration file allows .htaccess overrides and if the overrides are not enabled, your Joomla htaccess will be ignored or cause an error.
WHERE ARE JOOMLA SEO FRIENDLY (SEF) FEATURES LOCATED?
The SEO friendly features of Joomla are located in:
- The 'SEO Settings' tab located in System -> Global Configuration
- In the 'Publishing' tab of each Article where you can insert your page description
- Browser Page Title located in the Menu -> menu items -> Page Display option
- Page Heading also located in the Menu -> menu items -> Page Display option
CONFIGURATION YOUR JOOMLA FOR SEO
Once you have made sure that your web server has mod-rewrite module enabled and you have properly renamed your htaccess file, you can start enabling Joomla SEO features bye going to System -> Global Configuration. Once on that page, on your right side, you will see the following Joomla 'SEO Settings' options.
So make sure that you set the 'Search Engine Friendly URLs' option to 'YES'
USE URL REWRITING
You need to enable the 'Use URL Rewriting' - Enabling this Apache mod-rewrite function will eliminate the 'index.php' portion for your page URL
ADD SUFFIX TO URL
This feature is optional, thus you can either enable or disable this option. If enabled, your page URL will have '.html/.htm' appended at the end. I myself prefer to disable this option because I like to have my URLs short and clean.
Unless your Joomla website contains non-English letters, I recommend to keep this option to its default, which is Disabled! However, if your Joomla site does contain non-English letters, then Enabling this option will convert those letters to English.
INCLUDE SITE NAME IN PAGE TITLES
This Joomla SEO feature is actually made of 3 different options!
- No - When you choose 'No', you are telling Joomla SEO not to append your website name to your page title - The 'Site Name' is located in your Joomla 'Site Settings' which can be accessed by choosing System ->Global Configuration
- After - If you choose to Enable the 'Include Site Name in Page Titles', then the first option you will see is 'After'. If you choose 'After', then your site name will be appended to the end of your page title.
- Before - If you chose 'After', your 'Site Name' will be appended at the beginning of your page title.
Which option is best? Setting the 'Include Site Name in Page Titles' to 'No', 'After', or 'Before' is a matter of personal choice but for me, since I want to have full control of the Page Title for SEO, I prefer to leave this option Disabled.
Why? Well, because:
- I don't want my page title truncated if it exceeds the Page Title maximum character limit
- I want to take advantage of the page title's max. character limit to properly write a title that is optimized for search engines without being truncated, and has a higher click through rate on the search engine result pages (SERPs).
THERE IS MORE TO SEO THAN JUST JOOMLA SEO FEATURES
There is more to optimizing your Joomla website than just properly setting up Joomla SEO features!
- Know what search engines are and how they work
- Properly implement your On-Page SEO techniques
- Fix your Joomla technical SEO issues to attain optimal site speed for your desktop and mobile users and boost ranking
- Provide great content for your users and search engines
- Properly inter-linking your pages are what makes your Joomla SEO optimized.
The more you understand about search engines and how they operate, and keep up with each search engine's algorithm change, the better you will be in optimizing your Joomla site for your readers, potential customers and search engines!
ALWAYS KEEP YOUR JOOMLA UP TO DATE
We have seen many Joomla sites still using Joomla 1.5, 1.7, and 2.5 and it is something we just can't understand why! Keeping your Joomla site up to date is one of the easiest step after Joomla installation, still and for some reason, some are still not updating/upgrading their Joomla site which is a risky business!
So my answer to the 'Is Joomla SEO Friendly' question, is YES - But are you search engine friendly?
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