The biggest problem with Joomla! is that it really is not very search engine friendly. The out-of-the-box URLs are horrible squiggles not readable by any search engine let alone humans (well, I exaggerate, Google does not have any problems indexing these pages, but if you do a search for any popular search term you will see that those particular types of pages do not tend to be at the top of the serach results)
But more important than the URLs, is the way that Joomla displays the Title tag - this is by far the most important piece of text on your whole page, and Joomla displays the site name in the title, THEN followed by the name of the particular content item or page being displayed at that point. Even worse, the default setting for the title is that of the MENU name. How awful is that!
To counteract this, I have done my own hacks to the core Joomla! code since about version 1.0.8. Obviously this carries its dangers - if you upgrade and forget that you have applied the hacks (as I have done), your pages with their lovely titles (and individual descriptions and keywords) tend to revert back to having your most important page have the title : Home.
Luckily now I don't need to mess around with all of that any more. There are two fixes out, both of them offering mostly the same end result but using different mechanisms to get to it.
The one is called the Joomla SEF Patch (a component), and the other is JoomSEO (a mambo/plugin).
Joomla SEF Patch
The Joomla SEF patch is provided by Joomla At Work and comes in a free and a paid-for version. Both does essentially the same job, but the free version is not installed as a component, but overwrites the core Joomla! files in a manual fashion. In other words, you have to unzip the files and upload them via FTP.
The link to the extended version of the patch is here:
Joomlatwork SEF Patch for Joomla
You pay about 8Eur for the Extended version which allows you to install it like a component. The core Joomla! files are still patched, however, you have more control over restoring to the default Joomla! files if you want to roll back quickly.
What does it do?
Joomla Patch changes the core files to give you :
- Ablity to have custom title fields (optional to include the site name or not)
- Ability to control the other meta tags settings such as keywords and descriptions - it gives you the option to choose combinations options such as whether to display the default Joomla! descriptions if no content description is available
- Some other control settings over the Robots tag, how Google cache your pages and others
Gives you control over your titles and meta tags
Also supports static pages AND COMPONENTS
Overwrites the Joomla! core files
If you use the free version you don't have a control panel to control the settings
JoomSEO is a mambot/plugin that installs into your current Joomla! installation. It is free, and is provided by Phill Brown and can be downloaded from : JoomSEO
JoomSEO also gives you control over your Titles and other meta tags but it goes even further. This mambot generates your description and keyword meta tags on the fly! How great is that!
It takes the first paragraph of your website page and generates a description from that. Just be careful with sites that run templates with large repeating modules at the top of each page. I haven't specifically tried it with one of these but there is a possibility that it might generate your description from those module, or modules, instead of the main text on your site.
Also, if you really want to write unique descriptions for each page, instead of having them generated from the first X number of characters from the content on your page, then the Joomla Patch might be a better option.
What does it do?
JoomSEF is a mambot and it gives you:
- Ablity to have custom title fields with huge degree of control over the format of the site name. You can also choose to leave the home page settings to be the Joomla! defaults.
- Ability to control the other meta tags settings such as keywords and descriptions - AS WELL AS the ability to generate these meta tags on the fly from the content on your page. You have control over how long you want the description meta tag to be, as well as how many keywords should be generated, as well as the minimum length of the keywords.
- You can also choose whether to add heading tags (h1, h2 etc) automatically (although I haven't tested this out myself personally - it could also potentially break your modules
Installs as a mambot and doesn't disturb your core code
A big time saver if you are too lazy to type in your own descriptions and keywords
Doesn't work with components yet
Might not work with all templates
All in all you are now spoilt for choice when it comes to installing one of these two add-ons to make your Joomla! website search engine friendly
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