SEO. Joomla 1.5 Websites

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1 SEO for Joomla 1.5 Websites Rod Farrell

2 Introduction Why do you need to know about SEO for Joomla Websites? If you have a Joomla website then presumably you have it for a reason. If that reason involves having anyone find your website then you need a basic understanding of SEO. SEO is not luck. Its not Black Magic. Its not just for those who can afford to spend thousands of dollars to improve their website ranking. Despite what you may have read (mostly written by people with vested interests) SEO CAN be designed into your website without any additional expense. SEO for Joomla is about what YOU can do to your Joomla website to rank better. Being a free open source Content Management System, Joomla gives you easier access to make changes that will improve your site than traditional websites. There are also many free tools available to help you improve your ranking as well as some that will cost you a little. Who Is Rod Farrell I have been developing websites for over 10 years and have been developing Joomla websites pretty much since Joomla became Joomla. I have built a number of top ranking websites and throughout this book I will be giving you theory and showing you how I applied that theory to which consistenly ranks at number 1 in Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask. Probably a lot of other search engines as well but these are the four big ones you should be focusing on. So this is not a book for academics. It is a hands on manual for real people in the real world that want to get real traffic to their websites. Can I Guarantee your site will rank higher? Simple answer: NO!

3 Nobody can, if someone tells you that they can guarantee a number One position in Google, run and hide from them they want your money, and lots of it. How long before you see results form your SEO efforts? That depends on a lot of factors beyond your control. Search Engines have to crawl you site first, and index it for your keyword. It also depends on the competition for the keyword you target and how search engine friendly your competions sites are. Sometimes you see results in weeks, sometimes months, sometimes a takes a Year. Whichever it is for your website, the clock doesn't start ticking until you start so the best time to start is now.

4 Getting Started There are some Key factors that you need to get right to rank well. 1. Keywords You will never rank number 1 for every keyword. You need to identify a small number (1 to 4) keywords for each page in your website. Start with your home page and after you go through each step for your home page you can go back and start again for the next most important page on your site. So what keyword should you be focusing on? Quite simple, ask youself who you want to visit your website and what would they be looking for? Then ask yourself what search terms is that person most likely to use when looking for what your site can offer them. In the case of Upper Coomera Church, our target market is new residents of Upper Coomera who are looking for a church. So we thought that the search terms most likely to be used would be church and upper coomera and we focused on those three words. You thought this would be hard didn't you? Before committing to particular keywords you should do some more research to make sure you are on track. Some useful links for this research are and In the Google Tool, when the results come in for Keyword Popularity sort them on Search Volume. Then click add on the ones you like. Then you are able to download the list Google created for you. Don't just focus on single words. Groups of words are likely to have less competion as a keyword than a single word. EG. There are more websites trying to get ranked for paint than for lead free paint. Each article in your Joomla website should have its own set of keywords, targeted to the content and purpose of that article/page. Don't load all of your keywords into the site global keywords area. This area should have only the keywords that are relevent to the front page so you may need to change these keywords if you are cycling articles. The keywords associated with the individual articles on the front page are not included in the keyword metatag for the front page. For this reason it is a

5 good idea to include a read more tag in each article on the front page because this creates an individual page for each article with that article's keywords listed. These pages will get their own search engine ranking seperate from the front page.

6 2. Create Quality Content This one should speak for itself but based on the poor quality content of the typical website, it needs some comment. If you build a website, make it stand out with high quality content that people are coming back to because they want to read it. People search websites because they want information and your site will rank better if you provide content that is relevent to your keywords. If visitors like your content they might even place it into their favourites and send it to their friends or even add a post to their favourite Social Media site. Best part from this is, if you are found and people click through the site and don t go back to search the some keyword again in Google, you just won some extra points for your Page rank. People don t read a page once they find it, they scan to see if it contains the right information they are looking for. Make your pages scan able with short paragraphs and white space between sentences to make the page easier to read. Use bullet-points if you are listing things like features of products, to make it more readable. Add a Frequently Asked Questions page to your website to make information easier to find. Break up text with graphics but remember Google can't read an image only its name and Alt tag. On the Upper Coomera Church website the content of the home page is all about what the church does in the Upper Coomera community. A new visitor to the site wants to know who we are and what we can do for them (just like the visitors to your site). By providing this information the keywords naturally reoccur throughout the content, providing excellent ranking material. Underneath the introduction to Upper Coomera Church we have two articles at any time about specific events or activities of the church. These are changed regularly simply by changing the Publish on Frontpage flag. Regularly changing content is important for ranking. Also we have an events calendar on the front page that changes every few days.

7 3. Headings Many website developers ignore the H1 and H2 heading tags. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise these tags are one of your most powerful SEO tools. When someone reads your website, the first thing they look at to see its relevence are your headings. Having headings in bold font, slightly larger that the standard content makes them easy to identify for a human. Search engine spiders on the other hand need to be told what text to treat as a heading. A main heading should be is flagged as H1 and a sub-heading as H2. Not using the H1 and H2 flags is the equivalent to sticking a page of plain text without headings in front of a customer. If they read it, it will be without focus and lose much of its impact. In a Joomla website it is tempting to ignore H1 headings in favour of the page title which is automatically generated by Joomla. I always set Show Title to OFF in the article parameters so that I can better control the content of the headings. That heading content should include the most critical keyword/s for the page. This means that if you have three articles on the front page you will have three H1 headings. Some SEO experts consider this to be a negative for ranking but I've not found it the case. If you are concerned you can set the Show Intro Text parameter for articles to NO and only show the H1 headings after the READ MORE break. You will see the front page of Upper Coomera Church website contains an H1 heading with the keywords Upper Coomera Church and an H2 sub-heading containing the words Upper Coomera. This is not spamming Google with keywords, they are all in context and flow naturally for both humans and spiders.

8 4. Meta Descriptions One of the most underused tools that Joomla give you is the ability to add a metadescription to each article. The metadescription is the description of the page that Google shows searchers. The metadescription should also contain the keywords that are relevent to the page. Don't use the same metadescription for every article or page in your website. Each page contains targeted information that should have its own keywords and metadescription so that each page can be ranked based on its own merits. Joomla also provides a site metadescription. This metadescription is only used for the front page or blog layouts and replaces the metadescription of the individual articles that show on the front page. For this reason you should review the global metadescription regularly along with the global keywords. One of the weeknesses in Joomla is that there are no metadescriptions or keywords for categories. This means that if you display your articles in a category blog style layout the site metadescription and keywords are used, not those of the articles. This again means that you need to regularly check your global settings to ensure they are up to date with articles in category blogs. Also, using read more tabs in articles will again get them ranked seperately.

9 5. Images The old adage a picture is worth a thousand words is most definitely true except when we are talking SEO. Despite its best efforts and future plans Google cannot read a picture. As mentioned above, break up your text with pictures to make it more readable for humans but don't skimp on the text. Also, make sure every image has an Alt tag because this is the bit Google can read. I am always amazed at the number of websites that are made up only of images and don't even have Alt tags. Below is one of those websites, the way Google sees it. This is an actual live website. The owner came to me wanting to pay me to SEO the site. I told him only way to get this site well ranked was to rebuild it from scratch. Even using Google Adwords was too expensive because Google will always charge the maximum for adwords when it can't relate the site's content to the ads keywords. In the case of Upper Coomera Church we have a slideshow on the front page. We chose this slideshow tool from the Shape5 team over a Flash tool because of the ability to add text with each slide. The text and heading is readable by search engine spiders, whereas text in an image is not.

10 6. Page Structure Often not much though is given to SEO when designing the layout of a website. The majority of new websites are still in the traditional three column layout with a header area which can work fine if you remember that the way html works, the top, left and right columns are read by search engine spiders before the centre column. If your columns only contain menus or ratable content that is ok. If on the other hand you have text based ads in the header area and fill your left and right columns with adds, testimonials with external links or other extraneous data, this data will be used by Google to decide what your site is about before it gets to your main content. I have seen websites that rank better for the content of third party ads than for the sites own content! Some templates are created in such a way that the main content is read before the right column. This is the case with the Shape5 template that we chose for Upper Coomera Church. The Upper Coomera Church website has a menu at the very top of the site which is read first. This is followed by a slideshow in the top area as described above. The text relating to the slides is read by a spider and each slide has its own H1 heading. Because the slides change every few seconds this top content is likely to be different every time it is visited by a spider. We chose to have no left column so that the main content is read sooner. The H1 and H2 headings for the main content is then read and then the actual content of the first article. The next two articles are also read by the spider before it gets to the right column. The right column contains a list of coming events and service details followed by a podcast. All of this is relevent content for search engines. After this content, the last thing to be read by the spider is an external ad.

11 7. Links I get s on a daily basis from people offering to create hundreds of links to my website. Google and other search engines are sophisticated enough to see through artificial devices such as these link farms or link schemes and will penalise your website accordingly. Genuine links, from well ranked sites on the other hand will boost your rankings and are not that hard to get. That is not to say that there are not some excellent tools available to help get quality links faster and I will look at one of these later. Start with the free directories for your area/industry. You will find many free and very low cost directories that encourage you to list your business and link to your website. Sites like cater for businesses in particular locations. Others are industry or interest based. Spend 10 minutes a day for the next two weeks searching out directories and adding your site. In the process don't forget Google Local. It is free and lists you above search results for your location with a map. In the case of Upper Coomera Church, at the time of publication this is the ONLY site shown by Google Local for the Upper Coomera location. Twitter is another great source of links. Post regularly to Twitter and have a link back to a page on your site in each post. Jfoobar Redirect is a great Joomla extension that I use to create tiny URLs in the format with 77being the article id. This means you gets a link to your domain without using your entire Twitter quota of letters. Within 3 months of launching Google had found over 260 links back to the site because of these strategies and the number keeps growing. In the case of Upper Coomera Church we listed on at least ten church and local

12 directories. We also post events and podcast posts to Twitter on a weekly basis. Links can also be earned by getting articles for other authoritative sites with links back to your domain. I regularly publish articles at ezines.com on SEO and other Joomla topics. One very effective tool for getting and managing links is Link Assistant which is part of the SEO PowerSuite. This tool will search out well ranked sites that are relevent to your site AND, optionally, that invite links via Link Forms. It then will either generate an request or complete the link form for you and generates the html code for a backlink page for your site. Link Assistant can be purchased indiviually or as part of the SEO PowerSuite. You can try a free version here.

13 8. Updating Content It is important for your site to have new content for Google to spider. This is another rank booster. Streaming content from other sites is one way to do this but then the content is not unique which can hurt your ranking. Find a way to add something new each week to your site. On the Upper Coomera website we have an events calender module that displays the next 5 events on the front page. Each time an event passes the content of the page changes automatically. We also have a weekly sermon which is posted as an mp3 file and included in a podcast on the front page using the Podcast 1.5 extension. You will find a tutorial on this extension at Just on unique content, it is easy in Joomla to have multiple links to the same internal content. To Google this looks like multiple pages with duplicate content. You should have installed a canonicalisation extension such as SEO Canonicalization Plugin to tell Google which view of this data is to be given priority. 9. Social Media I've already mentioned Twitter above. Social media is important for 3 differnet functions. 1. Posting about your site with links drives traffic directly to your site. I post to Twitter every time I add a new video tutorial to and get an immediate surge of traffic. When I say immediate, I mean within minutes. 2. The links posted to Social Media sites like Twitter and Facebook stay there and are found by search engines. 3. Using SHARE buttons on your site makes it easy for visitors to share any articles they like on the Social Media site of their choice. There are a number of extensions that cater for this. I use Sexy Bookmarks on

14 10. SEF URLs and Sitemap I left this one to last because to be honest, it is so automatic that I almost forgot to mention it. The very first thing you should do after installing Joomla is to rename the htaccess.txt file to.htaccess and change the settings in your Global Configuration to use SEF URLs. This means your urls simply make more sense and they are a lot shorter as well. More importantly, you can control what your urls are. Every site should also have a sitemap for Google and a visual sitemap that is linked to a menu on the front page. I don't know why but Google seems to like it that way. I use SEF Servicemap which is simple to use and has a pingback function to keep Google informed of changes. It also creates a menu option so it is easy to create the visual map. 11. Hosting Hosting may not be high on the SEO watchlist but it is important nonetheless. Visitor behaviour is recorded by search engines and visitors that leave your site quickly after visiting will drag down your ranking. One of the biggest causes of site visitors abandoning a site is a slow load speed of the page. This can be caused by adding huge graphics or flash presentations to your page but can also be caused by a slow webserver. Websites With Purpose provides budget hosting at one of the biggest and most sophisticated server farms in the USA. We will even migrate your site for you if you are not comfortable doing it yourself.

15 What Not To Do Most of this information is repeated but bears repetition because these mistakes will hurt your site rankings. 1. Don't join Link Farms this is seen as link spamming by Google 2. Don't cut and past content from other sites Google is wise to this as well and will penalise you heavily 3. Don't create duplicate sites with multiple domain names. Google will make its own decision on which site is genuine and could even remove any indexing of the rest 4. Don't try to hide keywords by adding them indescriminately in your site in text the same colour as the background this is blatant keyword spamming of the worst sort and will be penalised as such. 5. Don't fill your left and right columns with external links or information that is not key to your site. This information will water down the importance of your message in the eyes of search engines. 6. Don't pay a lot of money to someone who Guarantees you a number 1 ranking. Noone can guarantee a number one ranking unless they rank for a keyword that noone else uses (which also means that noone is searching on that word). If anyone offers you such a guarantee don't do business with them. They are either lying or don't understand SEO 7. Don't add slow graphical presentations to your home page 8. Don't stuff your page with keywords. If the content doesn't read well to your visitors because of repetition it is also unlikely to read well to a search engine 9. Don't use the same keywords for every page in your site. Each page exists for a reason (or should do) and that reason should be reflected in the specific keywords for that page. Finally, don't ever think your site is done so far as SEO in concerned. SEO is a constantly changing science and you should review your site every few weeks even if it is ranking well. To test your site you can go to each browser and search by each keyword in your site, or if you don't have a spare 2 or 3 days per week use a tool like SEO Powersuite which you can try for free here.

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