Sometime we are forgotting the very basics when we are thinking about the SEO for our Joomla website. Did you asked yourself this simplequestion:
What the alias field is for and how to use it to your advantage?
You allready know, that you can find the alias field on articles, menu items and lot of other places in Joomla - including in most extensions. Generally the Alias field (often referenced also as "slug") usually is found right after the title or name field - depending on exact place where you are looking in Joomla's backend. And, also generally, you don't necessarly need to do anything about - upon the very first save of the given Joomla ite, is auto-filled via changing all letters to lovercase and replace spaces, apostrophes and other fields wich are not supported in an URL to dashes (minus signs, if you like). Simple, eh?
But what this field is for, anyway? It's simple, the alias field is used by Joomla routing engine - and all SEF/SEO components piggybacking on it like sh404SEF - to create the search engine friendly (SEF) URL's for your site. So, deserves your special attention, if you want to do a SEO optimization for your site.
For example, if you have an article with a very long title, the SEF URL would also be long. As is described above, will contain every word of the title/name of the given Joomla item,resulting in a difficult to remember, share or distribute URL. More, by combining these very long aliases (for menu items, categories and articles for example) you can easily exceed the lenght of the URL's search engines are confortable with, resulting in indexing of truncated URL's.
Worse, if you use the advice from Google Webmasters, and you use keyword rich URL's, your efforts for building these might be a total waste of time - the parts of the URL wich are exceeding the lenght analysed by a given search engine will be simply neglected.
So, what you can do about?
The recipe is simple, and needs minimal work on your end. When you create a new item in your Joomla backend wich have an alias field, after the very first save, check, if the alias was generated, and tweak it as you need. Consider to have aliases built from the best descriptive words only, and keep it short. As short as possible - but keep it humanly readable and meaningful. Remember, this is the second most important part of the snippet shown in SERP's (Search Engine Result Pages) and is also a very important SEO ranking factor.
You have a terrific SEO tool at your fingertip. Use it!