If you ended up here, I am guessing you already know about Joomla, one of the most popular open source content management system (CMS) in the world today. As most Joomla users, I enjoy its user friendly administrator interface and passionate community that has been providing us with great extensions, patches and templates since the early days but CMS systems often comes with SEO issues and Joomla is no different.
Issue #1 – The Default Footer
Joomla comes with a default footer including a link to the Joomla website and notes about the GPU licence. Here’s the tip; the footer can easily be personalized with some basic html skills. After installation, just look into the “/includes” folder on your server and you will find the footer.php file that needs to be edited in order to add your own links and text to your website footer.
Issue #2 – Dynamic URLs
When creating new pages with Joomla, the CMS adds dynamic URLs that will look like this:
Needless to say, it is not search engine friendly. No panic though…There are patches and extensions available that will allow you to rename every URL on your website. After many experiments, I have to say the best solution I found so far is sh404SEF. In fact, sh404SEF can fix most of the SEO issues you will encounter but let’s focus on how to get search engine friendly URLs for now…
First, you need to allow search engine friendly URLs in the Joomla global configuration settings in order to have this working. The settings for this are under the SEO tab of the global configuration panel.
After installing sh404SEF, the extension will automatically create URLs for each of your page using the title of your document although sh404SEF will give you the option to change this. In your Joomla administration panel, go to “Components / sh404SEF” and click the “View/Edit SEF Urls” button. You will see a listing of all the URLs that have been created automatically by the extension. After editing them, they will be moved to the “View/Edit Custom Redirects” section of the sh404SEF control panel. If you don’t see the button for that section, simply click the link on the right side of the screen that says “Click here to switch to extended display (with all available parameters)”.
Once you are satisfied with the way your new URLs look like, you need to activate sh404SEF. From its control panel, click on the “sh404SEF Configuration” button. Under the “Main” tab, select “Yes” where it says “Enabled” and you will now have search engine friendly URLs but don’t leave too fast! In that same section you will find many options that you might want to set-up such as the file suffix. Do you want your pages to end with the html or php extension? The suffix option will take care of that.
Issue #3 – Title
Another issue with Joomla is the title meta-tag. By default, the CMS uses the site name (see your Joomla configuration panel) in the title meta-tag and will add the title of your documents to it, making it look something like “YOUR SITE – YOUR PAGE #1”. Unfortunately it is not very SEO friendly to have duplications in your title meta-tags but you can easily fix this with a little plugin called “JooFox Content Title”. The JooFox plugin lets you personalize your title tags using the title alias of your documents.
Issue #4 – Duplicated Meta Tags
Another issue that you might be running into is that even after installing sh404SEF and JooFox, your global description and keyword tags might duplicate on every page of your website. Once again sh404SEF can fix that with the proper configuration. Simply go to the Joomla module section and click on the “sh404SEF Custom tags module” link. Chose a position (try debug), select your home page in the scroll down menu on your right and publish the module. Once this is done, go back to your sh404SEF configuration section and under the “Meta/SEO” tab, select “Yes” under the “Activate Meta management” option. You are now almost there…Now go back to the sh404SEF control panel and click on the “META tags” button. On top of the page you will find the button “Home page Meta”. Click on it and change your home page meta-tags to something more suitable. Finally, go to your Joomla global configuration panel and under the “Metadata” tab, make sure you don’t have anything in the description and keyword fields so it won’t duplicate on each page. You now have customized meta-tags for your home page and a title generated by your alias on other pages. Simply use the “Meta info” tab of each content item to personalize the description and keyword meta-tags of other pages.
Issue #5 – PDF and Print Icons
By default, Joomla comes with PDF, Printer and Email icons on top of each content item. While they look pretty good and can be useful to some users, they also create a dynamic page for each of them without using the “nofollow” tag. As a result, search engines will index those pages and you will waste PageRank that won’t cycle back to more meaningful pages of your website. Thankfully sh404SEF also offers an option to take care of that. Go to the sh404SEF configuration section and under the “Meta/SEO” tab, select “Yes” under the “Insert nofollow tag on Print and PDF links” option. You will now have a nofollow tag on each of those PDF and Print files. If you want something more drastic, you can select the option to hide those icons under the “Content” tab of the Joomla global configuration.
Hopefully these few tips will help you solve a few common Joomla SEO issues and improve your search engine rankings.