Top 10 SEO bloopers in Joomla
Over the last years I have performed quite a few SEO audits. While some of the sites I investigated were optimized pretty well, the majority had quite a few issues. Funnily enough, some of these SEO issues were present on multiple of those sites. In this blog post I will list the top 10 of the issues I usually find. Once you know where to look, you may be able to recognize whether you have the same issues.
Number 1: Bad Page Titles
Though this should not be complicated at all, many sites have bad Page Titles: the <title> element in HTML view. If I need to name just one thing you should look at when it comes to SEO, it is this one. Especially as it is so prominent in the Google Search results. Just look at this example:
Unless you happen to know what Cristal offers, why would anyone want to click this link? So, make sure you write page titles that trigger people to actually click them. And remember, also Google uses this as a big ranking factor!
Read more about optimizing page titles.
Number 2: Bad or missing meta descriptions
Just take a look at the same result as above. The description looks messy, starting with something like About Us - Our Products page banner ... Our Products. Page .... Same again: why would you click on this? Meta description and Page title play a very important role in Click Through Rate in the search results. Improving these may give you a lot of additional visitors, even without any higher Google rankings. Remember though, don’t improve this just for the homepage, but for all pages of your site….
Read more about optimizing metadescriptions.
Number 3: Keyword usage
Many people simply forget to use their keywords. While this seems like the most logical thing to do, I see many sites that totally forget this. I once saw an architect’s website, that did not even include the word architect! But there are also less obvious examples, say where people are talking about their products (generic), while they should be speaking about, say, their swimming pools (exact). And even better, perform some actual keyword research!
Read more about optimizing keywords.
Number 4: Duplicate content issues
This is two-fold, basically, you can have technical duplicate content and duplicate content from incorrect Joomla set-up:
Technical duplicate content: Many sites are accessible with or without the www prepended. This means that every page of your site is accessible over 2 URLs. If you have an SSL certificate installed, you can have the same issue, resulting in even 4 versions:
Make sure you technically enforce access through only your preferred version. You can fix this in your .htaccess file (or some plugins).
On the other hand, you can also have duplicate content due to incorrect setup in Joomla. The most common reason for this is having multiple menu items pointing to he same article. Try to avoid this or if you must, use menu-item aliases to simply point to the already existing menu item.
Read more about optimizing duplicate content.
Number 5: NOINDEX issues
One that I see often, but one that is absolutely fatal if you have it: setting your site to a NOINDEX status (in Global Configuration). This is often done on purpose in the development stage (which is good), but the minute the site goes live, it should be removed. Otherwise, Google will not show your site at all in their index.
Read more about optimizing indexation.
Number 6: Canonical URL issues
Almost as bad as NOINDEX issues are canonical URL issues. Sadly, these are often less obvious and harder to spot, also because often not all but only a portion of pages are affected. The result is as bad though. Any valid page with a canonical page pointing to an incorrect page will not be indexed. There can be different reasons for this issue, this really depends on your situation. Just some examples:
Some extensions store their own canonical URL in their own database tables. Especially when these URLs are absolute URLs (including the domain), this can lead to the situation that the new production site has canonical URLs pointing to the old development site.
I have also seen custom components that were built in a poor way generate funny canonicals.
Read more about optimizing canonical URL's.
Number 7: Old robots.txt files
With newer sites issues with robots.txt are rare, but with older sites, people often have never looked at their robots.txt file since the Joomla site was installed. This may lead to blocking access to Google for parts of the site that should definitely be accessible (like all images even sometimes). Especially the following lines should not be in the robots.txt file:
If still there, remove those lines.
Read more about optimizing robots.txt.
Number 8: Slow websites
Obvious enough to spot, but people often don’t realize the impact of slow sites. These sites often have shorter visits, fewer conversions, higher bounce rates, and ultimately even lower rankings in Google. If your site structurely loads in more than 2 seconds, do something about it.
Read more about optimizing Joomla performance.
Number 9: Unknown and empty pages
Quite often a site has more pages than you as the site owner knows. Joomla generates more URLs than just the URLs from your menu structure, like login and registration views etcetera (like www.example.com/component/users/?view=login). For pages like this, it is best to set them to a NOINDEX status. Also, there might even be quite a few "funny" pages from extensions that behave strangely or maybe even ones that you forgot about. The key here is that you should know your site. Use a crawler tool to detect all your URLs, or simply type the following command in Google: site:example.com. You will probably find quite a few pages of which you did not know they were there.
Read more about removing obsolete content from Google.
Number 10: Dead links
Finally, I quite often see a number of dead links on sites. This should not happen, as it leads to frustrated visitors and bad SEO scores. Also, it is easily spotted using tools like Google Search Console or other online tools. Especially sites with bad set-ups can sometimes generate hundreds or even thousands of 404 errors, and this is definitely something Google does not like.
Read more about optimizing dead links.