How to SEO a Joomla Web Site
This article provides a hands-on example of how to optimize a Joomla web site for a specific keyword, in this case it is "website design Ottawa". The article contains useful links and references to relevant components and plugins.
Before we begin with specific steps, let us make one important point that will affect everything else: SEO work should be conducted based on the principle of "hierarchy".
The principle of hierarchy needs to be applied in both conceptual and spatial terms, meaning: what comes first matters more than what comes second, third, and so forth.
When you start your SEO of a Joomla website, start by including your primary keywords in the highest levels of your site's navigational hierarchy: URL, URIs, Page Title tags, description META tags, and H1 tags.
Include your primary keyword in your URL
"URL" stands for a "Universal Resource Locator". This is your web site's domain name. It is obvious, then, that a website can only have one URL. And this is the most important, or highest, level of your web site's hierarchy. If you can include your primary keyword in your URL, your SEO will be a breeze. But do not despair, if this is not possible. Like anything subject to ranking, SEO is a point-based system. You lose in one place, you can make up for it somewhere else.
Example of a URL: www.annatulchinsky.com
Include your primary keyword in your URIs
What people mean by saying "search engine friendly URLs" is actually "search engine friendly URIs" where "URI" stands for "Universal Page Identifier", an element unique for each page (not the whole site).
A website will have as many URIs as there are pages or articles, to use Joomla terminology. URI is the second highest level of your web site's navigational hierarchy, so be sure to include your primary keywords in there.
In a Joomla website, create Sections and Categories inside your Joomla control panel using your primary keywords and their synonyms. Then use the Alias field to include your primary keywords. Note that the Title field does not have to match the Alias field 100%. This will ensure that your URIs are properly optimized.
Include your primary keywords in Page Title tags
You can optimize your Page Title tags (also referred to as Page Titles or simply Titles) from the inside of Joomla control panel by opening each article and editing Page Title tags but it can also be done across the whole web site by adding a couple lines of code.
Alternatively, for a Joomla website you can install a Page Title plugin to achieve the same results across the whole website, but remember, each additional plugin will add weight to your website, making it slower to load, so if you have the expertise to optimize your website's Page Title tags from the core, do it by adding a piece of code as shown at the link above.
Some experts advise not to include your web site name, which is often your company name, in the Title tag, because most search engines only "look" at the first 40-60 characters in the Title tag, and what comes first matters the most, so by including your company name in your Title tags you will be wasting valuable SEO real estate. This is a good point, but on the other hand, if your web site's name is not included in your Page Title tags, then if someone searches for your company name, your link will not be the first one displayed by search engines, and this is not a good thing. Note that if your Title tag exceeds 40-60 characters, search engines will simply "cut off" the rest from display, but there is no need to worry about "penalty" or anything of that nature, and we suspect that the cut-off words are still being counted.
We decided to include our company name in our Titles. Here is an example of how we optimized our Page Title tags, targeting "website design Ottawa" as the primary keyword.
Poor SEO in Titles:
Joomla Bliss, a website design Ottawa agency offering flexible solutions for small and medium businesses
Note, there are 90 characters without spaces; the primary keyword "website design Ottawa" is not at the very beginning of a sentence; the company name is included in the Title.
Better SEO in Titles:
Joomla Bliss: Website Design Ottawa agency offering trendy web designs
There are 61 characters without spaces; the primary keyword "website design Ottawa" is closer to the very beginning of the sentence than in the first example; the company name is included in the Title.
Good SEO in Titles:
A website design Ottawa agency offering flexible web design packages - Joomla Bliss
There are 64 characters without spaces; the primary keyword "website design Ottawa" is at the very beginning of the sentence (an article 'a' is what is called a "stop word" and it is not counted by search engines); the company name is still included in the Title tag, only at the end of the tag, and not at the beginning.
NOTE 1: Each page needs to have a unique Page Title tag
It means that you need to add/remove/rearrange words in your title tag to prevent them from being identical. Note that even a slightest change is a change for robots.
NOTE 2: The keyword "web design Ottawa" is not the same as "web designs" Ottawa
If you target a singular form of a keyword, then use the singular form in your Titles consistently. If you target the plural form, then use plurals consistently. Search engines first look for a 100% match to the target keyword (which in our case is "website design Ottawa), then for 99%, then 98% etc, so the more precisely you match your target keyword in your title tags and other elements, the better it is for your SEO.
NOTE 3: The principle described in Note 2 applies to the word order
If you target "website design Ottawa" as your primary keyword, then use this keyword in the exact same word order as often as it is feasible, because the reverse word order - "Ottawa website design" - is considered a slightly different keyword by search engines (they are robots!). However, both versions will still add SEO value to your primary keyword.
Include your primary keyword in Description META tags in articles
To optimize your Description META tags (also referred to as Description META or Description tag), again, include your primary keywords as the very first keywords, preferably. You can include them once or twice, just make sure that each article has a unique description META tag that also matches the contents of that article.
Note that the Description tag is highly visible to users, so it should also include your marketing blurbs.
Example of SEO-ed Description METAs targeting "website design Ottawa":
Poor Description tag:
Joomla Bliss provides turn-key website packages for small and medium businesses in Ottawa: Gold Web Design Package
Good Description tag:
Turn-key website design packages by Ottawa web design agency Joomla Bliss: Gold Web Design Package
For a Joomla website you can install various components and plugins to edit description METAs (iJoomlaSEO is one of them), but keep in mind, the more components you install the heavier and slower your site will load.
Include your primary keywords in paragraph Header tags
The same principle of hierarchy applies to Header tags inside your articles. Your most important header tag is an H1 tag. Again, if possible, let your most important keywords be the very first words in all your H1 tags. But do not sacrifice quality of your content for the sake of SEO. Your readers are more important than search engines; after all, your readers are the ones who will be buying your goods or services.
Include your primary keywords in key Content elements
After you have included your primary keywords in your website's top hierarchical navigation, proceed by including them in all other content elements: image file names, image ALT tags, hyperlinks, module headers, module contents, and above all - your copy.
Repeat your primary keywords as often as possible, aiming at approximately a 2% keyword density, which is a fancy way of saying:
- Get at least 500 words per article (the more the better, as a matter of fact, you need lots and lots of content these days)
- Get 5-7 instances of your primary keyword per article, repeated in the identical way without changing word order or singular/plural grammatical forms, preferably
- Get 5-7 primary keyword instances inside links as link anchor text (embedded inside links)
- Use synonyms to support your primary keyword (paraphrase)
- Rename all your images by including your primary keyword as image file name and inside the ALT tags (most Joomla article editors have a special field for image ALT tags, so simply paste your primary keywords in there)
- Do not overdo, recent Google updates are reported to penalize overly optimized sites, so do include your keywords but make sure your text reads normally. Instead of over-stuffing your text with multiple keyword repetitions - create more content and include yor keywords sparringly.
Build quality back links from specialized web sites
After you've optimized your site's top hierarchical navigation and other content elements, you need to acquire "quality back links". Focus on building back links from reputable websites specializing in the industry of your primary keywords (forums, blogs, online magazines, etc)
If you are targeting a local market, then be sure to get links from local websites. For example for Ottawa-related keywords, it is best to obtain back links from Ottawa-based websites.
A "quality link" refers to the specialization of a website that contains a link to your website. A quality bank link is a hyperlink pointing at your website from one of the pages of a reputable website specialized in the industry of your primary keyword .
It is important not to confuse "specialization" with "PageRank" or "PR". In fact, contrary to popular belief, PageRank has a very little effect on your SEO. As a curious fact, Google.ca ranks itself as PR7 (out of 10). Many other websites that are positioned on the first page on Google for very competitive keywords do not have PR of more than 3 or 4.
The word "back" implies a perspective where your website is a starting point. So any link from any other website is a "back link" to your website.
For example, if we target "website design Ottawa" as our primary keyword, then back links from websites that have URLs containing "website design Ottawa" as well as corresponding content on the topic of web design in Ottawa will produce the best SEO results for this keyword.
Note that websites with URLs and content containing "web design Ottawa" or "Ottawa website design" or "Ottawa web design" will also contribute greatly to your SEO. They are not a 100% match to your primary keyword, but they are a very close match nonetheless.
How to acquire quality back links?
This goes beyond the scope of this article, so suffice it will be to say that to acquire quality back links you can do the following to acquire quality back links:
- Specialized article submission (via Ezine Articles or other portals)
- Specialized directory submissions
- Discussions on specialized forums
- Posts on specialized social media sites, and
- e-PR releases on specialized topics
Link building will be an ongoing process, but it does not have to be a daunting one. Focus on quality and not quantity. 50 quality links will add more to your SEO than 5000 non-specialized links.
In addition to all the steps described above, make sure to install a Sitemap component like Xmap. You can configure it to display all links in bold, this will add a little extra SEO value to the links. If you are using a three-column layout, it will make it easier for you to add more modules on the side columns, and use your primary keywords in the module headers.
This completes our SEO example, if you need help with a website design in Ottawa or SEO in Ottawa, please do not hesitate to contact us at 613-231-6308.