SEO Settings for your Joomla Website
Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short, is a complex topic. It is the practice of making settings and optimizing your website content a way that makes it more friendly to search engines, resulting in more website visits. Joomla makes this an easier process, as many of the most important SEO settings are accessible without having to touch your website codes.
The combination of factors that determine your search engine ranking is complex, far too complex to go into in this article. This article is not meant to be an SEO guide, but to demonstrate how some of the most important SEO considerations can be controlled directly through your Joomla Interface with no additional plug-ins or extensions. Keep in mind that a successful SEO campaign can take months or years of development, and what is demonstrated here does not guarantee a top page ranking. However, these quick tips will get help you started and can be accomplished using Joomla at no additional cost.
Once logged in to your Joomla Backend, we can start with the basics by visiting the Global Configuration section. It’s the last button in the control panel, or you can get there through the navigation menu - mouse over Site and choose Global Configuration
Once inside the Global Configuration, you can set your website title, meta description, and main meta tags for your website. We’ll use this very website as an example throughout the tutorial.
The third line down is the "Site Name", this is the main title that is displayed at the very top of the web browser window, and it is also the name of the link that appears to your website in Search Engines.
Note the page title at the top
Page Titles are a very important factor in your website turning up in search engine results. The home page title (or Site Name) is what is shown as the link to your website home page in Google, Yahoo and other major search engines. Using website keywords in your page titles is an easy way to increase your search engine rankings.
Below this section is the Metadata Settings, this is where you can set your site description and keywords. These settings are "Global" meaning they will apply to every page on your website by default.
The description will become the short text intro below your link on the search engine results, it is important to use as many of your keywords as possible and keep it as short as you can. The search engines will only display around 250 characters or a few lines of text.
The Site Meta Keywords is where you can enter keyword terms that search engines will associate with your website. Think of what you would search for if you were looking for your website and use those terms. There are also a number of tools online to help you come up with your keywords.
When entering keywords in this box, separate single words with a comma (keyword, keyword, keyword, ECT) and use single quotation marks to separate phrases with a comma in between (‘keyword phrase’,’Keyword Phrase’, ECT.) No spaces are required between the words and phases, only a comma.
Search Engine Friendly URL’s
SEF for short, this setting is found on the right side of the page in the SEO Settings box. This controls the way Joomla displays your links in the browser bar. The short of it is that you want these settings set as in this example - first 2 yes, last one no.
These are not turned on by default. If they are set to off, you must rename the htaccess.txt file on your server to .htaccess - otherwise you will get "Page Not Found" errors. Also keep in mind that some Joomla extensions (such as Virtuemart) are not compatible with Joomla’s SEF and will not function properly if the settings are turned on. If you are not sure about the settings, feel free to contact us for more information. If you are our client, they have most likely been set correctly already.
When you are done making your settings, be sure to click the "Save" button near the top right of the screen to make your changes effective.
Page Titles and Individual Page settings.
So far we have tackled the Global Site settings, but there are also settings available in your menu system and individual content items to use your keywords on the interior pages of your website.
Individual Page Titles
The titles for your pages are great places to stick additional keywords. In Joomla, pages are created through the menu system and the title for each page is controllable through your "Main Menu" settings in Joomla.
Mouse over "Menus" in the navigation menu. Your menu may look different depending on the complexity of your site, but you’ll most likely want to choose the item that has the asterisk next to it as shown above. This is usually your primary navigation menu.
Once there you should see a list of menu items, usually one for each page of your site. Again, your list may look differently depending on the complexity of your site. Click on the title of a page to edit the settings.
In this example, I’m working with the Services page, once you click the title you will be taken to the menu items screen where you can edit the settings.
There are quite a few settings for menu items, we’ll only be dealing with a few for SEO purposes.
An "Alias" is the term that Joomla uses to describe the page or article title in the URL of your website. It can be found directly below the Title in the menu item details window. With SEF on, Joomla builds the particular page using your domain name then /alias. In this example, the alias is services. To reach the "Services" page on this site, you would go to netsensemedia.com/services
A common SEO practice is to put keywords into your website URL’s. We could change the alias to add some keywords, like "services-web-design" - for example. The menu item alias changes the URL title for your web pages, it is automatically set to the whatever the "Title" is by default unless you change it.
The new URL updated through the Menu alias setting
Menu Item Page Title
The page title is different than the "Title" we were dealing with above - the title is what is displayed in your menu bar, you’ll usually want to leave that set as it is.
To set the page title that appears at the top of the browser window you’ll need to find the Page Title setting on the bottom right hand side of the menu item window in the Parameters (System) box - click the green arrow to open this box.
This is usually blank by default and the menu title is used if it is blank, but this is a great place to use keywords for your specific pages. Whatever is typed here will display at the top of the browser window and used on your page. If you would like to hide to title on your actual webpage, set "Show Page Title" to "No"
Notice the 2 places where the Page Title is displayed
When you are done making settings, be sure to click save and repeat the process on as many of your menu items as you need.
Settings for your content
Individual pieces of content also have settings where you can enter meta descriptions, tags and set the alias. Navigate to the article manager by mousing over "Content" and choosing "Article Manager" from the dropdown.
This will take you to the list of articles on your page, again, click the title of any article to view it’s settings
At the top left is where you can set the title and the alias of the article. Keep in mind that the menu item alias will always be the one seen on pages found in your navigation, but if you have a blog or links to this specific article updating the alias here can increase the results for this particular piece of content. Also remember that changing your alias may break some links on your site if you have linked to this article somewhere other than the menu, so be aware of changes you make here.
The main SEO settings for articles can be found at the bottom right of the article window, in the Metadata Information section. Click the green arrow to open the box.
Similar to the global settings we made earlier, you can enter a description and keywords (or tags) for this particular piece of content. This is a great place for keywords and descriptions of the article. The description will appear in Google, Facebook and other Search Engines and social media as the text that goes along with your link.
Once you have finished, click save and repeat on the other articles on your site.
The settings we have discussed here are the most basic SEO settings you can make, and Joomla makes it easy to accomplish these tasks without digging into your website code. Making these small changes is easy enough and will definitely make a difference in the way your web site ranks, but keep in mind that a serious SEO campaign involves a lot more than making simple settings.
Also keep in mind that any changes you make can take several weeks to appear in Google or other Search Engines due to the amount of time it takes for these sites to index the internet.
More information about SEO and Joomla settings will be coming soon. In the meantime, feel free to contact us with your questions or if you require assistance.