9.1 Joomla Website Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website by modifying web pages, article titles, menu titles, meta data and other website content to maximize your website’s ranking in search engines. In other words, SEO helps search engines notice and correctly rank your website. Joomla has a few SEO functions. But it is also missing a couple of crucial details. We will therefore show you how to add these missing elements and other simple methods to increase your search page ranking.


SEO is important because the majority of visitors to nearly all websites get there after doing a search. In other words, good SEO can double the traffic on your website. This may not be that important for a personal website, but it can make or break a business or community website. Sadly, there is a tendency for site owners to get so wrapped up into trying to fool Search Engines that they get ripped off by outfits promising a Number One Search Engine ranking – or they invest in tools that are of little help in improving their ranking. Of course, every online business wants to be at the top of Search Engine rankings. But if it were that easy for businesses to fool search engines, then search engines would become worthless. Instead of trying to fool Search Engines, you should try to better understand and learn to think like a Search Engine.



Think like Search Engine
All search engines use several processes to rank a website. First, Search Engines determine how many viewers visit your website and where they came from and how long they spent on your site and whether they interacted with more than the Home page.

Search Engines also note how often you post to your website, how long the posts are and how many images and links to other websites are in your posts. All of these things matter in determining the quality of your website content and therefore all of these things will affect your Search Engine ranking. If you frequently post to your site and viewers value this information, your website will receive a high ranking no matter how long the page takes to load or whether your page has the proper links. As just one example, a website with a lot of images may take a longer time to load. However, people love images and they are willing to wait for a couple of seconds in order to get images. Search Engines will reward websites that have a lot of traffic and ignores the slow loading speed.

Let’s take another example. There are some who claim that Wordpress has better Search Engine Optimization than Joomla. This claim is absurd. It is like saying that Search Engines prefers Green cars more than Blue cars. Search Engines do not care what color of car you drive and do not care whether you are using Wordpress or Joomla for your Content Management System. If you post valuable content and your articles result in a lot of traffic, then your website will get a high ranking. If you never post on your website and no one goes to your website, you will get a low ranking.

This is why we just spend a lot of time explaining how to draw traffic to your website. It is because drawing traffic is the most important thing you can do. Your content and images matter far more than any other factor. Nearly every tip in this book is about increasing traffic to your website. There are as many ways to increase traffic as you have time to invest in your website. But increasing traffic will not occur by magic. Rather it takes study, effort and time. I have some friends who post to their website twice a day and they have thousands of visitors every day. I have other friends who post only once a month and then wonder why their page is ranked so low. I have friends who understand the power of images and have their posts shared by thousands of people. I have other friends who only use text which sadly no one ever reads. Visit high traffic websites. Ask yourself, what is it about this website which attracts so many people. How can you do something similar with your website?


Why Joomla is better than Wordpress for Search Engine Optimization
Wordpress is like a newspaper. It organizes posts by date rather than by subject. Joomla is like a book. It organizes articles by subject rather than by date. But while there are not major differences between the two systems initially in terms of Search Engine Optimization, there are huge differences over time. First, it is much easier to create a blog with a Joomla website than it is to create a Table of Contents for a book on a Wordpress website.

This means that over time, Wordpress websites turn into a giant mess. You want to explain to someone how to do something? Good luck organizing the right series of articles and images on a Wordpress blog. Meanwhile, because Joomla organizes articles and images by category, it is easier for your viewers to navigate a content packed Joomla website than to navigate a content packed Wordpress website. Thus traffic for a Joomla site will increase over time while traffic for a Wordpress site will decrease.

In the end, books are a far better method of teaching skills than blogs and at some point in the future, more folks are going to realize the limitations of Wordpress blogs and seek out Joomla multipurpose websites for their businesses and social organizations. In short, Joomla is an ideal platform to optimize search engine rankings. However, there are some simple additional things you can do to make sure your site is noticed and correctly ranked.

Think Link like a Web Crawler
It is useful to understand how web crawlers see your website. Search engines rely on automated web crawlers to provide information about your website. These web crawlers scan your website’s coding. They are looking for H1 tags, meta-data such as a title and a description - and links to other pages. Having an existing high ranking page linking to your page is a good idea – especially if the link is to your Home page. Linking your page to another high ranking page (in other words, a page which already has a lot of traffic) is also a good idea. Linking from your Home page to other pages on your website is also a good idea.

Link to Popular Websites that discuss the same topic your site covers
Understand that all menu items are links and appear as links to web crawlers. So the titles you give to your menu items and articles matter. Make them descriptive.

Help the Web Crawlers
Use Key Words in your website Meta Description: Keywords are words that people use to search with. Crawlers look for key words in your meta description and page title. Joomla has a way to add a meta description for any article. It is worth going through your articles and add a one sentence meta description. Joomla also has a site meta description that is used for your Home page and for any articles or categories that do not have their own meta description. Go to System, Global Configurations, Site Tab. Below is the meta description we use on our website:


Also on this Global Configurations page, set Search Engine Friendly URLs and use URL Rewriting to Yes.


A search engine friendly URL is one that uses a plain English description as the link. For example, mysite.com/why_I_like_Linux rather than category 27, article 9. Setting Use URL rewrite to YES should remove the index.php from the end of your links (assuming have changed the name of your htaccess text file to dot htaccess. Doing this will:


This simple step will make Search Engines much happier.

Add a Short Meta Description for each Article on your website
The two most important parts of SEO are a descriptive title and an accurate meta description. Hopefully, you have written titles which describe what your articles and pages are about. But the meta description is a bigger problem. To see what the meta description is on any page, go to that page and right click. Then select Display Page Source. Here is the meta description for each web page:

<meta name="description" content="Learn how to build a secure website with Debian VPS, Hestia Control Panel, Joomla Website Builder and the Helix Ultimate Template. ">

In addition, each page shows its own title:

<title>3.4 Real Website Security</title>

Assuming you have not typed a meta description into your article with the article edit screen, Joomla will insert the global meta description on every article and every page. This is not very good as it means Search Engines no idea what this page actually describes! To solve this problem, you should add a one sentence meta descriptions for each of your articles. There are two ways of doing this. First, you can manually add a Meta Description at the Article Edit screen. Second, you can add a component that displays a table of all of meta descriptions for all of your website pages and add your meta descriptions to this table. We will describe both options.

Manually add a Meta Description and Key Words to each Article
Go to your Article Manager and click on an article to edit it. Then click on the Publishing tab to see a box called Meta Description. There is space to add a one sentence description and a few key words.


Give each of your articles a one sentence meta description (no more than 160 characters) and a few key words (less than five words, separate each word with a comma). Then click Save and Close. Here is the more accurate meta description: <meta name="description" content="Learn steps you can take to make your Joomla website more secure. ">

Search Engines now know a specific description this web page. Note that key words are no longer displayed in the source code. This is because search engines no longer use key words. But search engines do look for key words in your meta description and page title. So it is still useful to think in terms of key words and add them to your meta description and page title.

Use a Joomla add a Meta Description to each Article
If you have a lot of articles on your website, it is helpful to use a table of meta descriptions. This way you can see at a glance if any of your articles is missing a meta description. Here is a link to a free extension that adds this Meta Description table: https://extensions.joomla.org/extension/site-management/seo-a-metadata/metadesc/

Then install this extension by going to System, Install, Extensions. There are two component pages called Articles and Categories.


Write a one sentence description for the Welcome article.


Here is the result in the back end.


Here is the front end source code meta description.

<meta name="description" content="Learn why and how to replace the Windows operating system with the Linux Debian operating system in order to create a more secure computer. ">

It only takes a few minutes to add a one sentence description for each of your website articles. Even if you prefer to add your meta description directly with the Joomla Article Edit screen, it is still useful to add this free Meta Description component as it allows you to easily see if any of your articles are missing a meta description.

Use Libre Draw to Create an Error Page image
Open a new Libre Draw document and add images and text to help your website visitors better understand what they should do if they wind up on a page with a broken link. Then use Flameshot to capture the image. Place the image in a Writer document. Then right click on the image and click Compress to compress the image to 150 DPI. Save the image to your website images folder. Then in the Joomla Dashboard, click Content, Media and upload the image. Below is the image I am using for our website broken link pages. Feel free to use this or create your own custom Error Page image:


Load the image as your Helix Template Error Page Logo
Go to Template Styles and click on the Helix template to edit it. Click on Basic, Error Page to see this box:


Click Logo Select. Then select your Error Page image. Then click Save and Close.

Test your custom broken link error page
Clear the browser cache, open a new browser window and type in a non-existent link such as mywebsite.com/badlink. Here is what our custom Broken Link page now looks like:


Congratulations! You now have a custom broken link error page.

What’s Next?
In the next article, we will review how to move an existing website from Cpanel to Hestia.