Joomla 1.6 SEO: Recommended Settings

Joomla 1.6 SEO: Recommended SettingsWith the release of Joomla 1.6.0, two new SEO options are available in the Global Configuration of the Joomla Administrator. This blog will present a short overview of all the available Joomla 1.6 SEO settings, with recommended values for each of the settings.

Search Engine Friendly URLs

Description: Select whether or not the URLs are optimised for Search Engines.

Default value: No
Recommended value: Yes

Most people on the web seem to agree on this one: Search Engine Friendly URLs (SEF URLs) are prefered over non-SEF URLs. Setting this value to ‘Yes’ will transform your dynamic URLs such as http://www.example.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=featured&Itemid=101 to http://www.example.org/index.php/pagename. If you want to remove index.php you’ll have to enable the Apache mod_rewrite setting which we’ll discuss in a second. Using the pagename in the URL enables both visitors and search engine spiders to get an idea of the subject of the page before visiting it. An added benefit of SEF URLs is that when users link to your page, they will often do this with the entire URL as anchor text. When your pagename is used in the URL, that is said to benefit your rankings for this specific keyword.

Use Apache mod_rewrite

Description: Select to use the Apache Rewrite Module to catch URLs that meet specific conditions and rewrite them as directed. Apache users only! Rename htaccess.txt to .htaccess before activating.

Default value: No
Recommended value: Yes

As the name suggests, this option should be enabled by Apache web server users only. If you activate this setting, the Apache module mod_rewrite will be used to rewrite your URLs, and remove /index.php/ from it in the process. The URL we discussed earlier http://www.example.org/index.php/pagename will then become http://www.example.org/pagename, which really looks nice and clean. To be able to benefit from this option, you must rename the file ‘htaccess.txt’ to ‘.htaccess’ (for example by using ‘Save as’ in the program Notepad++. If changes this setting to ‘Yes’ (after renaming htaccess.txt) results in a ‘500 – Internal server error‘ on your website, Apache or mod_rewrite are most likely misconfigured. Try using Google for more help on this specific problem.

Adds Suffix to URL

Description: If yes, the system will add a suffix to the URL based on the document type.

Default value: No
Recommended value: No

Unicode Aliases

Description: Choose between transliteration and unicode aliases. Transliteration is default.

Default value: No
Recommended value: No

Several Internation Improvements for Joomla 1.6 are discussed in this document. Since Unicode characters have been allowed in URLs for only a short period of time, and many browsers seem to handle them differently I would recommend to play on the safe side and not use unicode aliases unless your website absolutely depends on Unicode characters in URLs.

Include Site Name in Page Titles

Description: Begin all Page Titles with the site name (for example, My Site Name – My Article Name).

Default value: No
Recommended value: No

Studies by SEOmoz have shown that putting a keyword more to the front of your title tag, will make you rank better for that keyword. Furthermore, people will spend only a split second looking at your title tag once they see it in the search engine result pages (SERPS). Would you rather have them see your important keyword or your most likely little known (no offense intended there, I wish my company had name recognition at the level of Coca Cola or Google as well) brand name? If you want to use your brand name in your URL, I’d suggest placing it in the back, behind your important keywords. Take for example the meta title tag of this page: ‘Joomla 1.6 SEO: Recommended Settings | ThemePartner’, where the brand name is appended to the title tag and separated by a pipe-character (|) for visual clarity. Abusing this option to make sure all your pages will be tagged with specific keywords you’ve entered as your website title is not advised. If all your pages are containing the same keywords, how are both visitors and search engine spiders ever to determine the best page to visit (or rank) for that given keyword?

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