How to optimize your Joomla! website for search engines

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is an essential practice for ensuring your store is ranked highly by major search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, Bing and others.

There are some simple steps you should follow in order to optimize your site’s search engine ranking:

Use search engine friendly URLs

Search engine friendly URLs (also known as SEF URLs) are structured so they are easily read by search engine crawlers as well as humans. When SEF URLs are disabled, the URL structure looks something like this:

http://www.mysite.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1:welcome-to-joomla&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=50

With SEF URLs enabled (a default option in the Global Configuration), the URL is rewritten as follows:

http://www.mysite.com/index.php/the-­news/1-­latest­-news/1­-welcome­-to­-joomla

You can tweak the URL structure to remove the index.php element by tweaking advanced server settings. Read the following document to find out more: https://docs.joomla.org/Enabling_Search_Engine_Friendly_(SEF)_URLs

Use a sitemap

While search engine crawlers (or ‘bots’) are adept at cataloging site pages, you can support their work by creating a sitemap. A sitemap is simply a list of pages on your website – it provides a guide for the crawler to follow.

Sitemaps can be created for different types of content, including images, videos, news pages, mobile mages and more. Or you can simply create a master sitemap encompassing all of your content.

The easiest method for creating a sitemap on the Joomla! platform is with the help of a dedicated extension. The Joomla! Extensions Directory includes a specific category for sitemap generators, which automatically build, publish and maintain sitemaps on your behalf.

SEO extensions

Once installed and configured, these extensions will scan the content on your site and create the sitemap files search engines will look for to help crawl your content. Once created, you can submit the sitemap URLs to Google, Bing and other search engines to assist indexing.

Use the title tag

The Title tag is a metadata element used to define the clickable element in search engine results. A good title should be under 70 characters in length and should also include keywords for the specific page, as close to the start of the title tag as possible.

Google recommends that you follow these key principles when creating a title:

  • Specify a unique title for every page
  • Make your title descriptive of the page content, and concise
  • Avoid keyword stuffing (repeatedly using similar words in different orders)
  • Avoid using generic titles
  • Use robots.txt carefully, don’t disallow search engines from visiting your website

Use a meta description in your articles

Always include a meta description in your articles. This tag allows you to provide a summary of the content on the page and can be used by search engines to assist indexing.

In the Joomla! article editor, find the Meta Description field by clicking the Publishing tab. Enter a short paragraph summarizing the article topic.

Meta description field

Use meta keywords to assist indexing

In the article editor, just below the Meta Description field, you’ll find another field called Meta Keywords.

Meta keywords

While search engines like Google and Bing have stopped using meta keywords for indexing, some search engines still rely on them. Keywords tags should be relevant and descriptive of the content in your article. Ensure they’re also included in the main body of your article – in the first paragraph, if possible.

You can also add global meta keywords, covering all pages of your site, at System > Global Configuration > Site > Global site meta keywords.

Site metadata fields

Including relevant, appropriate links to external sites as well as content published on other pages of your own website is a good way to boost your SEO. But be sure to link in moderation. Search engines regularly adjust their algorithms to identify and downgrade sites that stuff their pages with unnatural links to content around the web.

Always remember, the best way to promote your website is with high quality, relevant content that your readers will share and link to on their own sites, social media and other resources.

For further questions, or if you need help, please open a support ticket from your HostPapa Dashboard. Follow this link to learn how.

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