The most common Joomla SEO mistakes

Mastering the Web is a never ending learning process. You can learn from both good and bad examples. Unfortunately most of us are learning from their own mistakes. A well known situation is that you got a brand new Joomla site, latest tricks, stunning design, appealing content, but you miss a key ingredient of the success: the Visitor. And you've wondering, why they aren't coming, despite your SEO efforts as sending out marketing e-mails to your closest 10.000 "friends" and spending nice money in buying incoming links and lots of postings on every imaginable social marketing site, blog and forum. It's not obvious, but the problem may be in what you did, and not in what you missed. Anyway, here's a mix of things usually Joomla webmasters are doing wrong. Learn from, and try to avoid these most common mistakes!

Do you use a "Splash Page"?

Do you have a visually appealing, eye catching entry page to the site? You know, one of those bloated flash movies or nice images? And you're smart, and put there all kind of volume control, skip intro, and click here to enter buttons? Congrats! You have the best, more expensive nails in your site's coffin! The entrance is beautiful, no doubt, but this is a complete disaster when it comes to search engine optimization. Search engine robots are looking for text, but there is no text on a "splash page." The main page of any website is the most important page, and should be the one which is best optimized SEO wise. If you use it to place a great splash page here, you are throwing away the child with the bathwater. Search engines - alike the most of your visitors - don't appreciate splash pages. Don't forget, that the info you will find about your site in SERP's (Serach Engine Result Pages) is grabbed from your default page. If there isnt a meaningful content, or isn't here in the right place-format, you've lost the first battle for audience.

Do you use Meta Keyword and Meta Description Tags on all your pages?

Yea, you're a Joomla fan. You're reading this, so no doubts about. But in the same time, I'm sure, you don't want to have one of the zillions of sites around being show in SERP's with the following description:

Joomla - the dynamic portal engine and content management system.

Why this may happen and how you can avoid this situation? Joomla was build by people with certain SEO awareness. And has all the tools to help you successfully fight for the top spot in the searching battlefield. (All in all most of your visitors are coming via search engines, right?). All Joomla pages have the most needed Title , Meta Keywords and Meta Description pages by default - a must to have SEO asset. These are pre-filled with some info by default. You must take out the defaults and replace with meaningful things, best describing your site and most appealing for your target audience. Where? In the Global Configuration, Metatags tab. The title tag, which is in the head section of the document and is put between the items is treated by search engines as one of the most important indicators about the content of a page. If you don't pay much importance to what you put there, then you are wasting a good opportunity. Similarly, the Meta Description tag is often shown in search engine results pages (SERPS) as the description of your site. If you make a compelling description, it helps people to click through to your site. Just think about, how you pick up the site you will visit when you're searching for some info? a compelling description can make people to click on yours. And the keywords? those are used on help search engines to rank your site and display it when specific search terms are used. So, go there and check what you have!

Do you have the same Meta Keywords and Description Tags on all the pages?

By default Joomla outputs all of your pages with the Meta Description and Meta Tags found in your global configuration settings. But you and I we know very well, that all of your pages are unique and have a special role in the overall site architecture, and you should let search engines and users know about this. Don't worry, Joomla has the built in capability to change the title and the metatags to better represent your page's own facet. So use this, and optimize each of the pages of your site for one or two important search phrases. If you take the time to make unique title and description tags for each of your pages, you can take advantage of this possibility and rank well for several search terms. Where? In each content editing window, on the right you have the Meta tab, where you can tweak this.

Do your have your most important message, the company slogan or your other key info/message here as nice images?

Clever web designers have the habits to produce a beautiful web page that is heavily based on images and having the most important texts "highlighted" by heavy use of photoshopped images. One can think at first that you've reinvented the wheel: can obtain text formatting tricks normally out of the reach when you design for web. Dazzling!!! Text combined with images to look like a normal web page, but visually "enhanced". It looks good to the viewer, but the search engine robot doesn't find any searcheable text. So, be warned! Your visitors are arriving mainly via search engines! If the robot does not find any valuable info, tour site will drop in the search engines, or even may don't have the chance to see the magical first page of SERP's. Also while it is quite extreme to turn an entire page into an image, and Joomla isn't about that, but you may be inclined to use at least for important headlines some nice graphics. You should avoid that too.

Do you use personalized, local keywords?

The web is a nice and cheap way to conquer the world, isn't? So why you don't try to do it? It's up to you, but most businesses have a geographically "contoured" potential market. Even if you have just set up a web design business, you may think that's a potential global one. Right and wrong in the same time. To be successful, you need to have first customers, references. And if you try to obtain this on global scale, you may be out of luck. You can't think that you are going to be able to get a first page listing for the term "Joomla design" or "Joomla programmer." Maybe later. But if you concentrate on something more specific, as a specialty you have or a geographic zone, you may increase your chances in spectacular manner. The competition is too great and you are just starting out. But if you live in Green Valley, Tucson, Arizona, then it is possible to get a good listing for "Web design for Joomla, Green Valley, Tucson, Arizona,." So, be specific, be personalized, try to be unique. Put those geographical terms in your title tag, your description tag and the text on your page. Wherever possible optimize your site for local and regional keywords and you will stand a much better chance of being found by people who need your products or services.

Do you read the above one? And trying to do it you overcompensate, and now you're trying to do "Branding" in the Title Tag?

Hey, don't do that! Everyone likes to put the name of their company first and the title tags of most sites reflects this. The first thing you see in the upper left hand corner of the blue line at the top of the browser is the name of the company. May make you to be proud and to feel good, after all HP's own page is doing the same, right? But no one knows about your company (yet), so no one is searching for your name. People (as you - just think with your own head, don't read and apply all SEO bullshit out there Wink) are searching for answers to their needs, not to find you! If you can, avoid the temptation to put your company name as the first (and for search engines) and most important word in your title tag. Rather, put the most important keyword that people will use when searching for a site such as yours. You can do your branding elsewhere on the page (with your logo and supporting text) but don't try to do it in the title tag unless you are already quite famous. And I wish you become famous soon!

Do you redesigned your old, "boring" site and you are neglecting the already archived results?

Your old website may have looked bad, but it had traffic and search engines indexed those pages and people are finding those pages based on the information that the search engine robots compiled from them. Contrary to what you may think, not only the main page of your site is carrying the value of the site - each of your page may have his own place under the Sun already, and you may thrown this advantage gained over time together with switching to Joomla. Big mistake. If you switched to Joomla, and don't take some extra efforts, you may completely toss out the old URL's, without compensating for it, then you are tossing away all the traffic you built up before, because search engines will be sending people to pages that no longer exist. There is a way to avoid this. But here you need some extra help. You need to activate all the options you have in Joomla to have those nice SEF URL's, and to install and use one of the SEF components around. If it is possible, stick to the same structure that your old site had and retain the same url addresses for the new pages. Read this article ! If this is not possible then the best thing to do is to make "permanent redirects ." For this you will have to make a .htaccess file (a text file with instructions on the functioning of the site) . This file will tell search engines to permanently redirect traffic from an old URL to a new URL. When this file is in place if anyone types in the old url, he or she will be permanently redirected to the new location. Similarly the search engines will soon change their listings from the old URL's to the new URL's.

Do you try to steal the spotlight in the search arena with a "Brochure" Site.

If you want to be the top site in your particular field, then you have to deserve it. No shortcuts, no wormholes are available here. Today more than ever all the search engines are optimized - and tweaked daily - to give results based on what a human may want to see. Cheating here in long therm is a suicide. So, put value in your site - and you may get to the top. The best way to deserve is to offer a good amount of quality content. You cannot get by with just putting a few pages with general descriptions about your company. For example, if you are selling gardening accessories, then back up your offering with reviews and helpful information for the consumers. This will make your site a valuable resource. Human visitors, and search engines alike, will soon recognize you as an authoritative source of information in your field, and you will be ranked accordingly.

You're trying to trick the Search Engines (with Hidden Text, Cloaking or Doorway Pages, or any similar, black- or grey-hat SEO tactics)?

My friend, you just doomed yourself. I guess this is the biggest mistake you can make. Instead of putting energy into deceiving the search engines, you should use the same enthusiasm and skill to construct web pages that offer solid content to visitors. In the past people used to put hidden text, stuffed with keywords using font coloring that matched a background, or construct doorway pages or even pages with code that tried to deceive the search engines. These methods don't work animore and can get you banned from search engine indexes. If anyone proposes to help you with "optimization" methods such as this, then you should avoid it like a plague. (and send me a beer Wink)

You're linking to "Bad Neighborhoods"?

Valuable back-links are still one important resource to obtain a SEO success. Fortunately most of the search engines are announced, that they dropped their penalties for obvious link exchanges, so go ahead, and build partnership with other valuable sites in your area for mutual advantage. But be warned! Not any such link exchange helps you! And not the sheer number, but the value prevails. You can't get into serious trouble if a questionable or substandard site links to you, but according to Google, you can be even penalized if you link to what they call "bad neighborhoods". These are spam sites or other sites that have a bad reputation. So, don't accept offers to link with any and all websites. Visit the proposed link partner and see if the site is ranked, as opposed to being banned, and if there are any other issues that might make it questionable. If you have doubt, then don't.