Top 30 Onsite SEO Guidelines For Joomla


The Joomla CMS does a great job at handling SEO out of the box. However there are many things to consider when optimizing your Joomla website for optimal SEO results. In this post we would like to show you the Top 30 SEO Tips for the Joomla CMS so you can stay ahead of your competition. Although we are going to talk about some Joomla specific points in this post there are still a lot of other points that are applicable for any website or other CMS solutions such as WordPress and Drupal.
We hope you find this information helpful and you can use it for your own Onsite Joomla SEO efforts.


1. Joomla SEO Settings
In your Joomla global configuration you will find your basic SEO settings.
We normally do not enable these settings while in development of the website. This is because we would like to see the non-sef URL that shows the item ID numbers for the pages we are working with if we need them.
If you enable the second setting (Use URL Rewriting) and your site does not work then chances are that your hosting company does not have mod_rewrite enabled on your server. This is required if you do not wish to have /index.php/ in the middle of your SEF URLs.
We always leave the suffix setting to off as there is not any SEO benefit to enabling this. It is purely a personal preference setting.
Unicode aliases are not needed for most sites unless you are dealing with multilingual websites.
We always include the site name after the page titles. Never set this setting to “Before” as it will have a negative effect on your SEO rankings.

joomla seo settings


2. .htaccess File Update
A change to the default .htaccess and web.config files was made in Joomla! 3.4 to disallow directory listings by default.
If you previously had a .htaccess file and you used the one click updater in Joomla then your original .htaccess file is left untouched. You will need to update it to the new version though. The htaccess.txt file should have been overwritten and contain the latest changes. Simply copy any custom redirects or changes you may have added to your old .htaccess file and add them to the newly updated htaccess.txt file. Then remove your old .htaccess file and rename the htaccess.txt file to .htaccess and you’re all set.

htaccess updates


3. Robots.txt File Updates
Since Joomla version 3.3 there has been an update to the robots.txt file.
If you have updated your Joomla 3 website using the one click updater, you may not have read or understood the notification about the robots.txt file that was updated. In Joomla version 3.3 there were two new directories added to the Joomla file structure that needed to be blocked.
The following two files were added to the robots.txt file:


Also, Google now requires additional directories to be accessed in order to verify mobile friendliness of your website.
The following blocked directories have now been removed from the file:


You should see a new file named robots.txt.dist that contains these changes. Please use these changes to update your robots.txt file.

robots file updates


4. WWW Redirects
If your Joomla site is accessible with or without a www-prefix is a matter of duplicate URL’s. Google will consider it as two different websites.
Google Webmaster Tools asks you to specify how you want Google to index your site, with or without www. So you should make sure your Google Webmaster Tools accounts are updated properly.
Add the following code for non-www to www redirect in your .htaccess file. Obviously you should change to your own URL:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ //$1 [L,R=301]


There are PROs and CONs to using SSL certificates on your website that you should be aware of.

Google provides a minor ranking boost to sites that use https URLs.
Secure URLs provide visitor confidence & added trust which will increase conversions.
SSL is an absolute must For ecommerce websites
The Joomla CMS handles HTTPS URL very well

SSL certificates can be costly
Secure URLs can take a slight speed hit. This is likely why Google now provides a rank boost to offset the speed decrease.
Using secure URLs site wide can cause some caching issues depending on how your site is set up and the extensions and plugins used.


6. Internal Links / Anchor Text
Imagine that your website is a bucket. You have put all your efforts on the things inside of that bucket. When the search engines come along you want them to stay inside of your bucket as long as possible and to learn as much about your website as possible. To do this you need to have internal links so related content can be easily identified.
Look for long tail keywords and phrases in your articles that you can internally link to other content within your website.


7. External Links
Just as we previously stated, imagine that your website is a bucket. Every new external link that you add to your website puts a hole in your bucket (website). So how do we stop these holes from happening? Use the rel=”nofollow” tag in your links. So for example if you were to link to a 3rd party website like Amazon we would create the following link using the nofollow tag:
<a href=”//” rel=”nofollow”>Visit</a>


Joomla CMS also provides a simple way to do this from the menu items as well. When you create a new menu item, click on the Meta data tab and you will see the Robots dropdown list with multiple options for follow and nofollow for your menu item.

external links


8. Image Alt Text
Now that Joomla allows your images to be accessible by search engines it is much more critical than ever to make sure your images are optimized and descriptive.
Don’t use generic image names such as DCMIMAGE10.jpg
It is much better to name the file: yellow-lamborghini.jpg


An example of how an alt tag is used could be:
<img src=” images/yellow-lamborghini.jpg ” alt=“My Yellow Lamborghini Dream Car“>


9. Optimize Your Page Titles
When you create menu items you can keep the menu text to a minimum as in our example here. But we also want the search engines to know more about what this menu item is linking to. So in the Page Display tab you will be able to set the Browser Page Title as well as the Page Heading text in order to better define what your link is about.

optimize page titles


10. Optimize Videos
Most website do not take advantage of using videos to increase conversions and drive traffic to their websites. When you optimize your website using videos you could see a large increase in not only visitors but conversions as well.
According to KISSmetrics, website visitors are 64 to 85 percent more likely to convert, or make a purchase after watching a product video.
In 2015 and beyond, small businesses should regularly submit optimized videos not just to YouTube but to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr as well.


11. Improve Website Speed
Your website speed is a critical factor in your search engine rankings. There are a few things that you can do in order to get the most benefit to speed up your Joomla website.

  • Only install what you need! This is a huge problem in the open source CMS world. There are so many plugins and 3rd party features available that a site owner can easily load up their website with junk they do not need. Keep your website and database as lean as possible. When adding a new extension to your website ask yourself if you actually need it, will it provide ROI, what overhead does it add to your website.
  • Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help increase speed on a medium and large website.
  • Use Caching Where Appropriate.
  • Optimize your images to keep the sizes as small as you can. There are many websites and software tools available for this that you can search the web for.
  • Use A Good Hosting Company. Site speed is one of the most important things to consider when selecting a hosting company because site speed is an important ranking factor.


12. Calls To Action
Keep in mind that “read more” links and call to action buttons are also considered internal links. These items should not use generic terms such as “read more” but they should for example say “Read more about the top 30 SEO tips for Joomla”. It is much more descriptive and turns this text into a long tail keyword phrase.


13. 404 Errors
Maintaining and monitoring your 404 errors are critical to your SEO optimization efforts. If you do not monitor your 404 error pages and get them redirected to a proper corresponding page that works then you could not only be losing valuable traffic, but your rankings will also suffer. Depending on how you redirect these pages you need to make sure that they are using a proper 301 redirect which tells the search engine that the page is not permanently redirected to the new page.
There are some tools available for Joomla you can consider using to manage your 404 redirects.

  • The built in Joomla Redirect Manager
  • .htaccess File
  • 3rd Party Extensions


14. Site Maps
We see a lot of Joomla websites using 3rd party sitemap solutions that need to be manually updated and submitted all the time to the search engines. There are some great sitemap extensions available for Joomla so we do not know why those sites do not use them. These extensions can automate much of the process and not only keep your HTML sitemap up to date on your website, but your submitted XML sitemap is always up to date for the search engines to scan your content.
We recommend the Joomla sitemap extension , OS Map from //


15. Optimize Your Contact Page
This is something that most people do not consider when developing a website for their client.     
NAP – What is it? NAP is a term for Name, address, and Phone. There are a few things to consider that you may not realize when setting up a contact page and how to properly format your NAP.

  • Your NAP must be crawlable text, no images.
  • The NAP on your website must match what’s on your Google and Bing local listings and citations
  • It’s OK to style it with CSS, or to have it on one line.
  • When in doubt about the formatting, refer to a Schema generator:
  • Embed a Google Map to your contact page in order to help link your business locally

For example the microdata code for our company created at looks like this:
<div itemscope itemtype=”//”>
<a itemprop=”url” href=”//”><div itemprop=”name”><strong>Integrated Technology and Design</strong></div>
<div itemprop=”description”>Integrated Technology and Design is a full service digital agency offering internet marketing, web design, and software development services. We have a team of talented and very experienced internet marketers, developers, programers, and designers that can handle any task from the most basic to more complex projects.</div>
<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”//”>
<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>16125 S. McClellan Ave.</span><br>
<span itemprop=”addressLocality”>Plainfield</span><br>
<span itemprop=”addressRegion”>IL</span><br>
<span itemprop=”postalCode”>60586</span><br>
<span itemprop=”addressCountry”>USA</span><br>


16. Keep Content Fresh
Regularly adding fresh content to your website is a must for SEO. Consider your content as “SEO Food” that the search engines love to eat. If your content is stale, why would they prefer your site over your competitor’s if they can get fresh content elsewhere? Blogs are the easiest way to keep fresh content on your website. There is always something to talk about no matter what industry or niche market you are in.


17. Optimize Content Around One Topic
Keywords are important but use them naturally. Craft your content for humans, not search engines. The search engine algorithms these days are programmed to look for more naturally formed content. Your content should be written in a way that is descriptive, instructional, and informative.
Select a topic to write about and then craft your content as if you were speaking to another human being. Write the way you would talk, or how you would explain something to someone in person. This will give you a natural flow to your content and this is what the search engines are looking for. This will also make your content more unique and allow your articles to have a personality of their own.


18. Create Incredible Content People Want To Share
If your website content is written in an easily understandable reading level so it can be easily understood by all education levels of your target audience then you will be serving a wider audience and have a higher chance of your content being shared.
Your goal should be to write content that others will be happy to share. Very informative and instructional articles are likely types of content that people will be willing to share with others. Controversial articles are also usually highly shared, but you should be careful not to make this type of content too often.
Quality inbound SEO links are still the biggest influence for search engines. Creating incredible content that people will want to share is still the best way to earn those links.
Remember that size matters – Big content gets big results!
Studies show for most SERPs like content that is at least 1500 words. 2000 is a good target to strive for.


19. Utilize Proper Heading Tags
Your <H> tags should clearly tell the reader and search engines about the page’s topic.
Avoid using generic terms like “Home” or “Products”.
Don’t put important information that would likely be your <H1> as an image.
Don’t use multiple <H1> or <H2> tags on the same page.


20. Focus On ROI
Focus on ROI instead of keyword rankings. Keyword ranking does not equal successful ROI. Focus on metrics that bring conversions. Tracking you conversions should be the most important metric of your website.
If you have 1000 visitors come to your website and only 1% of them are making a purchase then perhaps you would be better off with a more targeted audience and get 100 visitors that are actually interested in your products and services. Even if it produced less visitors that are highly likely to purchase from you then those 100 highly targeted visitors could mean a much higher conversion ratio and more bottom line income.


21. Encourage +1’s
These days you MUST have a Google Plus account. So many people have written off Google Plus as a valid marketing and social network. Seeing how Google owns this social network, why would you not use it? +1’s are more highly effective in your search engine ranking efforts than Twitter and Facebook shares combined. You should be sharing EVERYTHING to Google Plus.
The larger your circle, the more likely your business is to be found when someone performs a search.
Make sure you add social sharing buttons to your site and make it very easy for people to share your content.


22. Rich Snippets
“Structured data markup” is a standard way to annotate your content so machines can understand it.
Structured data markup makes your content eligible for two kinds of Google features:
Enhanced Presentation in Search Results: By including basic structured data appropriate to your content, your site can enhance its search results with Rich Snippets, Breadcrumbs, or a Sitelinks Search Box.
Answers from the Knowledge Graph: If you’re the authority for certain content, Google can treat the structured data on your site as factual and import it into the Knowledge Graph, where it can power prominent answers in Search and across Google properties.


23. Track and Measure Everything
If you don’t measure it, you cannot manage it. Track all your efforts and review them regularly. Use event tracking to track conversions to know exactly what steps your visitors took to get to the final conversion or where they might have stopped in the process.
Automate whatever you can using marketing automation tools like Mautic (free), HubSpot, Marketo, and Infusionsoft
Do A/B testing of different things on your website to see what works and what doesn’t.
Use call tracking services offered by Mongoose Metrics, Marchex, LogMyCalls, and others that can tie incoming phone calls to organic searches.


24. Optimize For Mobile
On April 21st, 2015 Google changed everything with an update to their mobile search results. If your website is not fully mobile friendly then your website does not exist when people search for your services or products on mobile devices.
Luckily there are lots of options for your Joomla 3 website to use one of the many responsive website templates available in the marketplace.
Mobile friendliness should be your top priority for both SEO and usability when developing or redesigning your website.


25. Avoid Duplicate URL’s – Canonical URLs
Duplicate content is created when you have two menu items or URL’s that produce the same content within your website. The Joomla CMS out of the box does not handle these well. There are plugins available but do your research on which ones will work for you and your particular situation.
Proper planning of your menu and content structure can help you to avoid these situations. Keep in mind that simple is always better.


26. Recommended SEO Tools
Here are some useful tools that we highly recommend you check out that can help you manage your content and onsite SEO efforts.

27. SH404SEF – The All In One SEO Extension For Joomla
There is a very powerful extension called SH404SEF. It is the most maturely developed search engine friendly (SEF) extension for Joomla. One thing to note is that Joomla SEF uses your menu items to create the URL’s . SH404SEF uses your categories and content titles to create the SEF URL’s. So your URL structure will greatly change by using this extension and you should be aware that there are a lot of benefits to this but it will affect your rankings when making such a drastic change to your URL’s.
Some features of SH404SEF are:

  • SEF URL Based on Content Structure, Not Menus
  • Meta data management
  • Social SEO
  • 404 Error Management
  • Custom 404 Page
  • Redirects
  • Canonical URL Management
  • Anti-spam and security


28. Monitor Your Bounce Rate
Google Analytics considers a visitor to have ‘bounced’ when only one hit is recorded for a session. This mean that if someone came to your website from a search engine hit and they read your article, then do not refresh the page or visit any other page on your website. Facebook produces a very high bounce rate because shared content is usually opened within the Facebook browser on mobile devices and people never go any further into your website.
Check your bounce rate often and analyze those landing pages and see if you can add anything that will keep visitors on your website using additional interesting links, calls to action, or content.
One page websites will have high bounce rates because unless the page is refreshed during the session then the session is considered as a single page visit.


29. Above The Fold
Keep Important Information “above the fold”. This means that the part of the screen you can see without scrolling down is considered as “above the fold”.
Some items to consider are to keep headlines and intro text high in the page. Also try to avoid the use of image sliders and large images that are not relevant to the content.
Keep adverts below the fold.


30. Beware Of Your Joomla Extensions
Only use Joomla Templates and Extensions from trusted developers. There have been many cases of site owners and developers that use extensions that have been distributed by untrusted channels that utilize black hat SEO techniques. These extensions can have keyword stuffing and hidden links in the code that will get your website black listed in a hurry.
Some extensions may have visible backlinks but charge you a fee to remove them.
NEVER EVER use templates or extensions from warez sites!
Also try to avoid using too many content plugin scripts in your content. {contentplugin}Avoid using too many content plugins{/contentplugin}