Creating a website that is not accessible to search engines, is like writing a book with no titles, punctuations, or paragraphs. Although the information is there, it is hardly possible to envisage. This is a problem that has presented itself to the Joomla community since the days of it’s ancestor Mambo. Web Developers were constantly forced to weigh the ease and organization of a Content Management System with the priority of search engine presence.
With the advent of Joomla 1.5 and a small amount of work, even a novice web developer or business owner can optimize Joomla 1.5 with the SEF Patch. This Patch was released to augment and “hack” the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) files that already exist in Joomla 1.5’s core, and upgrade them to complete more functions such as applying Meta tags to Sections and Categories, removing the Joomla Generated metatags, place html titles on pages, insert robot commands, and institute bot specific commands.
Understanding Some Search Engine Basics
One of the method’s that a search engine uses to determine where a site ranks for a certain keyword is by determining its relevancy to that keyword. Meta Tags, are Tags that the search engine reads to determine what content that a page should be relevant to. It also reads the site title, and URL to see where they fit in to the description.
For example if XYZ service is the service that a John Doe’s website provided and a potential surfer were to search for XYZ Service, John Doe would be most likely to come up high in the rankings if the following were true: ~his site is http://www.xyzservice.com, or as a back up if its taken [http://www.???????.com/xyzservice]. It is important that John Doe’s website contain the name XYZ service somewhere in the URL. ~His site title contains pages named after keywords associated with xyz service. (I.E. if xyz service is a restaurant than he would want pages with the title tag of xyz menu, about our xyz service, our xyz locations.) ~One of the keywords in the Meta Tag should be XYZ service, as well as other relevant tags that are likely to appear in the content of the site. (i.e. the if local the location of the service, style of xyz service offered, other variations of names for xyz service.) ~The search engine will then look to match the keywords with the content of John Doe’s associated page. For the index page it is important that the article content contain many if not all of the keywords. Each page should have the keywords and content that make it relevant to a search. (I.E. th restaurant menu page should have content and keywords that are pertinent to the search XYZ service menu, XYZ service food, etc)
These simple-yet necessary- website functions are an integral part of the average SEF page. Joomla uses databases and something called dynamic content to generate pages. It uses long url’s that have no sensible meaning (ie. xyzservice.com/index?232+.php?dd%?) A search engine doesn’t associate this with anything pertinent to a site, and can even have a hard time indexing and crawling the site.
How to solve these problems using the 1.5 Core along with the SEF patch First the assumption is that a person following these directions is a novice joomla developer. If not, read an article on how to install and use joomla before this one.
Navigate to the global settings link on Joomla. There should be SEO or SEF options. Select SEF URL’s and the apache_mod rewrite (if you have an apache server). If you checked now you would notice when you click on a link in your website you no longer see a nonsensical URL, but rather Category, Article, or Section alias (I.E. [http://www.xyzservice.com/menu]). Now robots will be able to associate the title of your site with its included content.
In most cases the links will not preserve the CSS and template. To fix this issue, you must log onto your site using an FTP such as filezilla or cpanel’s file manager, and change the “htaccess.txt” file to “.htaccess” by renaming it. Now when you return to your site it should be working correctly.
This core enhancement from 1.0 still leaves much to be desired as a user can still not add HTML title tags to Sections or Categories. SEF Patch can fix this. This article will explain how to install and optimize SEF Patch 1.5, but for a full explanation of what this patch can do visit: Joomla patch I am in no way affiliated with the SEF patch website, but as a Joomla Developer they are one of my preferred SEO options.
Download the patch, and unzip it to an empty directory in your computer. Log into your FTP program once again, select the root directory of the Joomla install, and drag the folders and files over. Be careful not to insert them into another folder. Select overwrite all files when asked. This will now overwrite the specific core files that are pertinent to that installation with the optimized patch.
Log back into your Joomla account, and you should see a New SEO button on your global setting field. Now when adding content you will have an HTML title option available, as well as a robot command (index, follow).
Warning: It is best to apply this patch before adding content. If you already have content delete all meta information and alias titles before patching. Some people have reported duplicate titles if this isn’t done.
You can also disable the Joomla meta generator, which is useless to the average website.
When adding menu items, (sections, categories, or articles) you can now add meta content, titles, and tags for them as well. This is an highly beneficial feature for multi-level sites that utilize the section and category features.
Once this is completed your site has now advanced greatly in its readability by search robots. It’s as if a person took that book without the correct spelling and punctuation and ran it through a grammar and spell checker. It comes out a great deal more comprehensible, as will your website.