Joomla is one of the most widely used content management systems, running on over 2 million active websites to date. It’s used to manage content and data, and enable users to communicate, collaborate, and share information.

While optimizing your Joomla website to rank is no easy feat, establishing a sustainable Joomla SEO strategy with these guidelines will move you closer to ranking your website higher in search engine results.

What is Joomla SEO?

Joomla SEO (search engine optimization) is a digital marketing strategy used to improve the visibility of Joomla websites in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

When processing your content (crawling and indexing) to show it on search engine results pages (SERPs), search engines like Google take into account a substantial amount of ranking factors. These include links, keywords, page speed, optimized content, and more. Improving these factors will generate organic traffic from search engines to your site so that more viewers can easily access your content.

SEO can quickly become overwhelming and a challenge to understand. Joomla makes it easily accessible to a wide range of users, from beginners to those with more technical experience.

Is Joomla SEO-friendly?

Some say that, out of the box, Joomla is clunky and slow-loading CMS. But the team at WebFX says that’s a myth:

“In fact, your Joomla site shouldn’t take long to load at all. If it does, there’s a problem. Look for bugs, or check the sizes of your image, photo, and supplemental files. This content can take up a lot of space on a webpage, and that means long load times.”

Out of the box, Joomla actually comes with some highly valuable SEO features, like URL rewriting capabilities and SEO-friendly URLs. Still, some say the process of making a Joomla site SEO-friendly is a little more complex than it is with other content management systems like Drupal and WordPress.

Luckily, Joomla also has a variety of extensions available, similar to WordPress plugins, that help it perform when it comes to boosting your SEO. With the right SEO extensions, you’ll be able to unlock all the features that make the search engine optimizations necessary to earn traffic from SERPs.

It’s easy to customize your site through the thousands of free extensions and templates that Joomla offers. This enables you to make changes and updates and is an extremely useful system for managing content. In addition, Joomla has multiple training resources and tutorials for those who need a bit of guidance.

13 Joomla SEO Best Practices for Beginners

To set up your Joomla site for successful optimization you have to go through a series of steps. You need to generate great content, earn valuable links, and ensure that your site is well-optimized and free from technical issues. This comprehensive SEO checklist will help you get started on this process.

1. Conduct keyword research

Keyword research will help you discover the terms visitors search in Google that are related to your business. With these you can then create targeted content that shows up on SERPs (search engine results pages), and draw visitors in from search engines like Google and Bing.

To find your ideal keywords, you have to be ready to conduct some research. Compiling an effective list of keywords will typically take a combination of methods. The best place to start is with a keyword research tool, which provides insight and analysis on things like the popularity of a keyword and how difficult a keyword may be to rank for.

Along with using a keyword research tool, look at related terms at the bottom of the SERP, as well as autocomplete searches in the search bar.

A SERP for the search "joomla seo" which shows topics related to the query.

Also look at other top-ranking pieces of content similar to your niche and see if you can find their main keyword as well as how many times it was used throughout the piece.

Avoid keyword stuffing, meaning don’t force your keyword or try to include it as many times as possible. Your keywords should be scattered throughout the page for a more natural reading flow, otherwise it can have a harmful effect on your ranking.

2. Enable search-friendly URLs

Normally without any configuration, your website pages have URLs that look a little something like this:

This is hard to read for both search engine crawlers and humans, so values should be specified for default URLs to ensure readability.

The goal is for your visitor to recognize what the page is about and where it is located on your site. It is also recommended to use your target keyword in the URL to significantly improve your page SEO.

Be sure to enable Search Engine Friendly URLs in the Global setting in Joomla so that your URLs will be shortened to resemble this:

This format is both easier for search engines and users to read. And since SEO-friendly URLs are an important factor for crawling and ranking content, it would be unwise to skip this step.

3. Get Joomla SEO extensions

In addition to the optimization, you’ll need to install and integrate SEO extensions on your Joomla website to help you stick to the best SEO practices. These are just a few of the options that are commonly recommended by Joomla users:

More extensions can be found on the Joomla Extension Directory, or here in the Top 12 Joomla SEO Extensions & Plugins – 2020 Review.

4. Write a great meta title and meta description

A meta title and meta description is a snippet that sums up what a page’s content is about on search engine results pages. These are the two parts of a search engine listing. For best performance, meta titles and descriptions should include your keywords.

SERP for "Joomla SEO" showing meta title and meta description.

To be fully displayed in search engines, a meta title, or title tag, should contain no more than 60 characters (including site name), and meta descriptions should be limited to 160 characters. Along with page titles, meta descriptions should be written to invite and motivate the user to visit your page. These will help increase your click-through rate (CTR), and experts believe SERP CTR impacts search ranking.

5. Enable Gzip compression

Among the simplest ways to optimize your Joomla page speed is to compress all the resources you can. Gzip compression is the method of grouping many files together into one smaller compressed file, increasing site speed and efficiency.

Slow loading times negatively impact user experience, which can result in site abandonment. Enabling this compression saves the user time and spares them frustration, which can lead to improved key performance indicators like bounce rate, session time, and conversions.

Gzip compression must be configured or enabled on your web server through your hosting control panel before compression can occur. To enable it on your Joomla site go to System/Global configuration, open the Server tab, and Set Gzip Page Compression to “Yes.”

To further improve Joomla page speed, also consider building with AMP, minimizing the use of JavaScript and render-blocking CSS on your site’s backend, and using a content delivery network (CDN).

6. Enable URL rewriting

Taking the step to remove the index.php at the end of your URL will truly make your site’s URLs SEO friendly. All it takes is a few easy steps.

First, enable URL Rewriting in the SEO settings of your Joomla site by going to Global Configuration, set the Search Engine Friendly URLs, and set the Use URL Rewriting option to “Yes.”

Then, rename the htaccess.txt file to .htaccess in your root folder.

Finally, when you’re done, check to ensure you haven’t caused any 404 errors on the front-end. For more detail on how to complete this read the SEF-URLs tutorial.

7. Use good internal linking practices

The purpose of internal linking is for easier website navigation. Internal linking is the method of connecting one page of your website to other related pages on the same site. This tactic strengthens the overall site SEO by defining its post and page hierarchy, which provides clear paths for search bots and crawlers to get from page to page on your site. Look how easy it is for readers to move from page to page on this Wikipedia page for search engine optimization:

Internal linking on Wikipedia SEO page.

Your users will get the most value out of your content if you provide internal links that naturally fit with the context of what they are viewing. Be sure to set relevant anchor text and enable do-follow links so that search bots can crawl and index your pages.

If there is content that you don’t want indexed by search engines, change the robots meta tag by setting it to no index, no-follow for a specific page. And for other pages you don’t want indexed, like admin pages for example, you can edit your robots.txt file to keep Googlebot from crawling them.

8. Optimize your images

Optimizing your website’s images can bolster SEO efforts by making it easier for search engines to read and understand them, and in turn, rank your content better. Name your image file something short and descriptive, and it’s even better if you can fit the keyword in it. Additionally, use alt text to describe to search engines and users with visual impairments what is in your image. Write this in a complete sentence and use descriptive language and relevant keywords.

Another way images impact SEO is by slowing your site down if they’re in the wrong format. There are various free image optimization tools to help you choose the right compression, file format, and dimensions of your images, without sacrificing speed and quality.

9. Use link-building strategies

Backlinks are links from other sites to yours, and they’re one of Google’s most important ranking factors. Websites with a higher number of quality backlinks tend to have considerably higher organic rankings.  Here are some effective link building strategies:

  • Create quality linkable assets that contribute value
  • Replace broken or dead links on other websites and offer to replace them with your content.
  • Do a search of your business name and find content that mentions you without linking back to your site. You can then attempt to reach out and get a link back.
  • Regularly check your site’s inbound links and replace dead ones, giving them functionality.
  • Use your competitors’ sites as a reference to finding possible ideas on where to get backlinks.
  • Provide informative content on other websites related to your niche or business as a guest blogger/contributor.

10. Design for mobile-friendliness

Most people search the web using a smartphone, so a mobile-friendly version of your site needs to be a priority. That’s especially true since Google’s algorithm crawls and indexes a website based on its adaptability to mobile devices.

When using Joomla look for Joomla templates or a Joomla extension to ensure that your structure and data are the same on both mobile and desktop. A user’s experience is more enjoyable when a website looks great and functions correctly on any device.

11. Create and submit an XML sitemap

A sitemap is an XML file that is essentially a map of your website URLs arranged in a hierarchy, which will be shown to viewers in the form of your Joomla menu items. When a sitemap is submitted to Google, search engines can crawl your site faster and with more accuracy.

An easy way to generate an XML sitemap in Joomla is by using an online sitemap generator, or one of the many Joomla Sitemap creator extensions available.

12. Use schema markup

Label your content with schema markup, or data structures that categorize content, to create search results with rich snippets. This markup identifies extra information to help search engines better understand and organize your content in an effort to display it to searchers in a more user-friendly way. These listings can include photos, reviews, events, contact info, and more.

A rich snippet for the search "apple pie" which shows reviews and images as well as text.

As a result, the search snippet becomes more appealing than a standard search result display. The Google Structured Data plugin can help you navigate integrating schema markup to your Joomla websites.

13. Use canonicalization for duplicate content

When you have pages that have similar or identical content, there is a chance that search engines will mistake them for duplicate pages and end up indexing only one, possibly the wrong one.

Adding a canonical tag to content in your Joomla gives Google the ability to tell which page you want to be indexed, which will give each of your pages the appropriate search engine ranking power. To discover any duplicate content you can use Google webmaster tools or other openly available programs/extensions.

Get a complimentary Joomla SEO audit

SEO is among the most cost-effective and powerful ways to grow your traffic, leads, and sales online. Joomla makes it easier for beginners not only to build a website from scratch, but one that will successfully rank in search engines.

Joomla comes equipped with the fundamental SEO tools to get you started on your journey to generating organic site traffic and ranking high on SERPs, so that all eyes are on your content and services.

Want to see how you’re doing with Joomla! SEO? Get an instant SEO audit below. Or, schedule a free consultation to see how intent SEO can boost search traffic revenue by 700%.