Exposure is everything on the Internet. Users often go no further than 3 result pages to find the information they're looking for, therefore the first results on the list are the most relevant ones. To achieve a meaningful level of visibility, many SEO techniques have been developed over the past couple of years. From 3rd party extensions to online services and consultancy, the solutions vary according to the website's nature and dynamic, but also to the webmaster's level of experience.
SEO for Joomla! is not difficult, but it is not a one-time task. Once a website is live, optimizing it turns into a permanent bulletpoint on the 'To Do' list, so we encourage all of our customers and readers to confidently apply the following steps for great rankings:
1. Use Google Tools
In order to ensure the preliminary ground for a healthy site launch, admins need to have their Google tools ready to use. Webmaster tool, Analytics, Google+ Personal Account, Bing Webmaster - These tools are designed to increase organic traffic, determine the ideal target audience using professional site analysis and also extract reports from social media engagement, etc. These days Google's webmaster tools are a very important part of any SEO effort - submit your sitemaps, check for crawl errors, check your traffic sources. Page speed optimization is also an essential SEO factor and the most popular testing platforms are Google PageSpeed and GT Metrix.
2. Server settings
One of the basic SEO techniques is to keep URLs as short and as concise as possible. This usually requires a rewrite module, however there may be complications if it's a shared hosting server (of course, small websites like blogs don't need dedicated servers, but if it's a medium-sized online shop or social platform, it could become a necessity). The easiest way is to choose an Apache or IIS server and install mod_rewrite to also avoid configuration errors from future third party components.
Joomla! and mod_rewrite use .htaccess instead of htaccess.txt for efficient URL rewriting. Change the configuration settings for SEF to "Use Url Rewriting". This change should always be the next SEO step after server configuration.
Formerly known as Xmap, it is an excellent site map generator for Joomla! that allows webmasters to keep their sites well organized. It's easy to configure and the generated site maps do not require manual updates.
5. SEF components
Once more, JED is the meeting point of all professional extensions a Joomla! site needs to strive. Although sh404SEF is preferred by the most members in the Joomla! Community for its abilities to easily rewrite URLs, detect 404 pages and use 301 redirections towards the correct links, there are other viable solutions within the SEF category.
6. Editor of choice
For an admin who is fluent in HTML, an editor may be an extra installation that isn't exactly relevant, however it is extremely useful for those who only manage the content of the website, from a non-technical level. JED offers a wide range of editors from various development houses or freelancers, most of them receiving great feedback from users.
7. Alt Tags for images
Most editors like JCE or Tiny MCE have the option of Alt Tag for images, meaning that admins can set a series of tags for their site images to appear in search results. It is a similar functionality to meta descriptions, even though the most recent SEO techniques do not focus on them as much as they did a few years ago. Also, website images need to be properly optimized (high quality .png or .jpg pictures are the most commonly used), as well setting up their dimensions within the Joomla! module they will be placed in (this way the image area will load first, then the image itself, which is a healthy practice for page speed).
8. H1 Titles
H1 is the most common tag used by Google's algorithm to determine what kind of information the page contains (news site, blog, online store, classified ads platform, etc.). When browsing for a suitable Joomla! template, admins need to check if it supports this feature (some custom templates have removed the H1 tag from their layout). Aside from that, maintaining the website easy to surf by following the 3-click rule and having a complete Contact Page are equally necessary for high visibility.
9. Solid Backlinks
Social media channels play a great part in redistributing relevant information and generating quality backlinks. The more people share, tweet, post material related to your site, the better for SEO and exposure.
10. Quality content
We have said it before and we shall say it again, with every chance - Content is King! No matter how beautiful the wrapping is, the inside needs to be fulfilling and relevant. Presenting a known idea or concept in a new light to a demanding audience can be problematic and duplicate content must be avoided at all cost, however when it comes to writing articles or describing certain events, it is important to keep in mind that "Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another." (Voltaire)