As the number of websites worldwide continue to grow at an incredibly fast pace, and the race to be at the top of search engine result pages is getting more and more competitive, SEO optimization is hardly a matter of choice any more. If you want to bring more traffic to your website — and not just any traffic, but visitors who are uniquely attuned to and looking exactly for the services and products that you offer, then take the time to optimize your website — it’s free, it’s easy to do, and most importantly, if you do it right, you can see real and tangible results within several months, or even sooner.
Unlike most of the web tools and content management systems out there, Joomla! offers a set of easy-to-use tools that will enable you to quickly optimize your website and make it search engine friendly, faster.
Here is a quick 5-step guide that is easy to follow and that will provide you with no-fail, tried and tested return on your SEO efforts. It has been put together with “a little help” from Kristoffer Sandven, SEO expert and founder of Joomla!Blogger.net
While Kristoffer says that when it comes to SEO, there are no ‘quick fixes’, he is confident that “there will be long-term rewards for those who approach it in a serious manner.” As an example, he shares this graph, which shows the improvement in traffic, over time, for one of his clients.
“The previous site they had was invisible in the search engines. After moving the website to Joomla! and FlexiContent, the traffic improved steadily, and still does. As you can see, the growth has been steady, but still, it has taken several months to get to where we are at today. So, be patient, and your work will be rewarded.”
Do use Joomla!’s friendly content management interface to optimize texts, images and links the easy way.
- Always add unique META descriptions to your pages. Make it a habit to add the description as you write or copy-paste your content into Joomla!’s friendly editing interface.
- Ideally, descriptions should not exceed 130 characters. This is how they will be displayed on Google’s search results, for example, so the more compelling the description, the higher the likelihood that a user will click on your link.
- Do make sure every image on your page has a keyword-rich alternate text (short description) and title (for example, avoid using titles like image.jpg).
- Do create internal links, inter-relating your web pages. When adding the hyperlinks, use Joomla!’s friendly pop-up link editor to make sure you do not leave the hyperlink title attribute empty. Instead, use it as one more opportunity to add relevant keywords that will augment your optimization efforts.
- When writing your text, try to organize it effectively around the search keywords you are competing for — those are the words people are actually using when they search for the product or service similar to the one you are featuring on your page.
As you know, there are meta tag fields in the Global Configuration screen of Joomla! that many of you will be tempted to populate and use. This might seem like a good idea at first. Since unlike Joomla! 1.6, Joomla! 1.5 doesn’t support meta tags on section and category pages, all of your section and category list and blog pages will automatically “inherit” your site’s global meta description. The same will happen to any of your pages that do not have unique description tags. While duplicate meta tags won’t get you directly “penalized” by Google and the other search engines, they will negatively affect the SEO performance and ranking of your individual pages.
Do use Joomla!’s built-in SEO or a third-party extension (if your site is fairly complex) to generate search engine friendly urls.
Search-engine friendly urls will help you boost your page rankings if you use them the right way. Since the url needs to indicate to both the engines and the human users what this page is about, make sure that your url is keyword-rich, while summarizing the content on your page. If possible, avoid using special characters ($, #, @) and keep things simple.
Using Joomla!’s built-in SEO feature is easy to setup and requires minimal investment. Third-party SEO extensions give you more control and flexibility, especially if you are using components that are a must for your site, but have no native SEO. Since everything comes with a price though, be prepared to lose some speed.
Do take the time to manage your content effectively.
It is important to understand that a lot of SEO has to do with individual page optimization. You won’t automatically have great rankings for all pages even if you have it for one. However, if you approach SEO at a holistic level, incorporating it in everything you do, the sum of all the factors will improve your general site visibility.
Amount and quality of your content
Presenting relevant content is the main objective of Google. Thus, the more content you have about a particular topic, the more relevant you will appear to the search engines. If you already have a lot of content you want to publish, I would consider publishing it over time so as to get the benefit of regular content updates (see next point).
Content update frequency
How frequently you should update your content will depend on the kind of site you have. But all sites need regular updates to be attractive to the search engines. Regular updates is one of the reasons blogs have such good rankings for many keywords and phrases.
Do get your website indexed by Google and Yahoo!
Indexing allows your website to be added to the search engines and is the first step to climbing their ranking positions.
Do sign up with and add your website to Yahoo! Site Explorer and Google Webmaster Tools. These are free webmaster services that will not only enable you to improve your site’s search engine visibility, but will also provide you with relevant and live feedback about its back links, crawl errors, top search keywords, top pages, etc.
Next, create a sitemap for your website, using a tool like XMap. Easy to install and use, this extension will create your XML sitemap files in seconds. Submit your sitemap to both Yahoo! Site Explorer and Google Webmaster Tools.
Do take the time to promote your website
Start building backlinks to your website – these are the in-bound or external links that point to your site — by adding its url to relevant online directories, swapping links with partners, etc.
If you don’t have time to tweet, create an account with some of the popular social sharing sites out there, including Del.icio.us and StumbleUpon.com , and submit a link to your website. Make it a habit to “share” your latest news, announcements, and new pages. Don’t forget to take advantage of Flickr, YouTube and Slideshare – posting your videos, images and relevant presentations will definitely help promote your rankings.
To check if you’re making progress, add your site to Google Analytics — it is free, and easy to use. It will provide you with vital information about your overall visits and how they change over time, along with other relevant information about your visitors, how long they stayed on your website, etc.
You might also consider using a free optimization tool like SEO for Firefox to do keyword research and track your ranking positions in Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Last, but not least, do keep in mind that optimization is not a one-time activity — it is a constant work in progress, the results of which you can and should measure on a regular basis if you want your SEO efforts to be a success.