Joomla SEO tutorial

Sunday, 26 February 2006

SEO quick tips

This article is about SEO with Joomla for the Google SE. Most of these tips are general Google SEO tips. Since optimizing a site has a general recipee, we'll talk about that recipee and add our Joomla flavour. Serve chilled!

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It describes the techniques used to enhance a webpage's search engine ranking. The goal of SEO is to get listed on targeted keyword searches, increasing the site's SE originated traffic.

SE is an acronym for Search Engine

Most of Google's search algorithm is not available to the general public. This is done to prevent SE spamming (getting a webpage a higher rank than it deserves by keyword stuffing, link farms, and other similar procedures). Most of Google aimed SEO is based on guesswork which in turn is based on past experience.

What we do know about Google is that it tries to get as 'human' as it can. This means the SE tries to evaluate content using many different parameters, in order to determine if a page is relevant for users conducting a specific search.

For example, if an user searches "web templates", a large human-written article on a well known website gets a higher position in results, while a page containing "web templates" searchphrase 100 times on an obscure website will rank very low. Actually, Google may ban a site for unfair techniques, so the second page in our example may not show up in results at all(because keyword stuffing is not tricking SEs today as it used to in the 90s).

Now, let's get to the tips.


Content is king

A good website is a website with rich, valuable information. We're talking about unique, well-structured text content, cross-linked for easier user acess. Large articles are a good thing for both human users and SEs. Internal links (links that point from pages on a website to other pages on the same website) help reading related articles easier.

Adding fresh information to your website on a regular basis makes it more appealing to SE's. Google determines the site update frequency, and sets the website indexing interval accordingly. A frequently updated website gets indexed more often.(Indexing is the SE refresh mechanism. A SE runs automated software[called crawler, or bot] to check websites for content updates)

It's also important to avoid duplicating content on your website. It may be interpreted by the SEs as a spam attempt.

Relevant Title and Meta tags

The <title> HTML tag determines the page title displayed in the browser window. Keywords in page title are very important to SEs.

Joomla displays both site name and content item title in the title tag, if you set "Dynamic page titles" in General Configuration backend

Enabling dynamic page titles
Enabling dynamic page titles

Meta description and meta keywords are HTML tags designed to present a quick page overview to automated software (such as SE crawlers). Because people abused these meta tags, most SEs tend to ignore their content. However, if you perform a Google search you'll notice that the meta description is sometimes diplayed in the results summary. IMHO, meta description tags should be used. You can write a quick description and the comma-separated keywords when editing a Joomla content item.


Adding content item metadata
Adding content item metadata

HTML tables, code validation, keyword weight

A search engine crawler sees your page content as an unformatted text page. If you have a table-based layout, the table gets linearized. In a 3-column table based template, header row and left column text get "seen" first. The problem is that Google "thinks" that words have greater relevance if they're closer to the page top. So your left column (wich usually contains navigation menus and modules) will weight more than mainbody text. You have to use CSS layout templates in order to improve your mainbody "weight". CSS separates the content from the layout and makes it render better to crawlers.

Here's a keyword weight list (ordered descending by weight)

  • keywords in domain name and URL(e.g,
  • keywords in page title
  • keywords in meta description
  • keywords in headings (<h1>,<h2><h3> HTML tags)
  • regular keywords in content

HTML validation is also important. Valid HTML code gets processed faster and easier by web crawlers. On the other hand, some functionality can only be achieved by using non-valid HTML code. You should aim to create valid HTML pages, even if sometimes compromises need to be done.

Conclusion (?)

Here's a list of things you may do to SEO your Joomla website:

set the global metadata description and keywords in Global Configuration

Setting global site metadata
Setting global site metadata

activate SEO in Global configuration or, even better, use some 3rd party SEO component wich displays section and item titles in URLs (such as 404SEF)

  • write text rich articles. if your content items are large, use the pagination mambot
  • use H tags (Heading1, Heading2,..) int your articles
  • set meaningful content item titles
  • write unique meta description and keywords data for each of your content items. If you're too lazy to do this, use some mambot or component to auto-generate metadata(a meta-generator and related items display mambot will be available soon on teachmejoomla).
  • disable the print and pdf icons in Global configuration if your users don't really need them.
  • Post links to your website in related forums, blogs and directories. Keep in mind that text links are better than image links. Also, anchor text should be different from anchor URL, like in the following example:

<a xhref="">Joomla tutorials</a>

This guide is not complete yet.

Thank You for reading.

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Comments (9)
RSS comments
1. thanks11-02-2007 12:58


2. Possible Copyright violation20-02-2007 18:57 
BTW, your contact us form is broken

3. Thank you20-02-2007 19:15

I know the guys from copyscape. They even hotlink my images, i have to take measures against this. 
The contact form is fixed, I'm using the SEO friendly patch and maybe this caused the function to be omitted. 
Thank You twice!

4. Thanks for this informations03-03-2007 17:08

helped me a little. but thanks anyway.

5. Thanks for this informations31-10-2007 18:29

I think a good Joomla SEO url rewriting component is important too - the one that comes out of the box with Joomla isn't really a great choice as it tends to produce very non-descriptive URL's.

6. SEO04-05-2008 22:55

Regarding My metadata; the site is a property rental site, and I was wondering If I really need to mention the metadata for every property I post, the word "rent" "acapulco" regardless of the other key words. I can use synonims but there aren't many, though for the purpose of my site I do see the need of specifiying that is for rental, and is in Acapulco.What can you recomed?

7. great12-05-2008 07:40

thanks for this great tips. 
i tried it on my new site, and i use the JoomSEO mambot. it works well 8)

8. Global metadata21-05-2008 14:02

Its good to see articles like this, however I disagree with your recommendation that people "set the global metadata description and keywords in Global Configuration". Metadata should only relate to the page itself and every page in a Joomla or Mambo site should have unique content. Therefore, the metadata should be unique. I always recommend that people clear the metadata in global config and add meta keywords and meta description for each content item.  
It is better to have no metadata at all and let search engines just parse the content than it is to have the same metadata on every content item.

9. @elpie #821-05-2008 14:51

You're right, Elpie. Uniqueness is indeed very important. There are mambots which overwrite instead of appending page title and meta fields, so in that particular case my recommendation would work, But generally speaking you are right, there's not need to clobber the meta fields with same thing over and over.

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