Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a must-have skill for designers, developers, programmers, writers, website managers and more. SEO drives traffic to the site and as a developer you can certainly boost your perceived expertise with a solid working knowledge of SEO best practices. Unfortunately, learning SEO is a bit of a challenge. Perhaps surprisingly, this is not due to the knowledge required but due to the sheer amount of information available.
As a Joomla developer, the SEO you must know is a bit different from traditional SEO for writers and other content creators. To boost your SEO skills, use these skill sets as a guide to increasing your specific knowledge about SEO for Joomla and beyond.
SEO and HTML Tags
Your use of specific HTML tags can greatly impact how certain words weigh into your search engine rankings. Choosing the correct <meta> and <title> tags in your <head> is quite important for search engine indexing. Use the various header tags to convey the weighted importance of different headlines and keywords. To emphasize keywords in your article text and other copy, try using the <b> and <strong> tags. Adding tag attributes like "alt" and "src" can only boost the SEO. Research the importance of different tags and implement them properly to affect page SEO.
URLs are indexed by search engines in addition to your site content. A meaningless URL, like https://docs.google.com/document/d/11oMgZly5x-axj3F5Jb4ve, does nothing to enhance the SEO of your website. Changing the url to something more readable, like https://docs.google.com/document/seo-information-for-joomla allows a search engine to take the URL into account when indexing your site, in turn boosting your SEO ratings. Readable URLs also benefit your website users, allowing them to navigate in a simpler fashion.
In order to index your site, search engines have to be aware of your site. An important part of SEO is to create HTML/XML sitemap files listing your site links. Also make sure you use structured linking to allow search engine crawlers to traverse your site. Additionally, create the proper robot.txt files to allow for maximized search engine indexing. There's more to discovery than that, so take the time to check out some sample sitemaps and other files in order to increase your discovery possibilities.
Embrace SEO Elevators
In general, many factors exist which can boost the SEO abilities of the site you're designing. Broadly, some things to embrace include backlinks, which can greatly improve your search rankings. Practice good coding like a strong HTML hierarchy and HTML compliancy. Implement keywords in your code. Create a page, which loads quickly as quick sites rank better. Consider the usability of your site, reducing ads and creating a layout, which is helpful for a strong user experience.
Avoid SEO Detractors
While many SEO elevators exist to improve your site, many SEO detractors exist which can decrease your search engine ranking. If you put too many keywords in your meta tags, search engines have trouble finding what's really important. Don't cloak information to lure in search engines as most can detect this. Avoid low-value pages or risk a penalty. And of course, make sure all content on the site is 100% original. Google does punish sites that plagiarize, which drastically reduce page rankings.
Install SEO Plugins
When in doubt, the Joomla community offers much assistance in the way of SEO. While many of the practices above must be implemented during development, installing a plugin can help your client to produce SEO-friendly content and build upon the strong framework you've created. The plugins help to find strong keywords, maximize searchability and emphasize the keywords within the content.
As a developer, you must trudge through a mountain of SEO information. Use these simple categories to target your research towards what's most important. Create a simple checklist of SEO friendly practices and then work to implement them as you create the latest and greatest Joomla sites.
Guest post by John Gower, NerdWallet