OK, so you have a brand new site going on - and it's all made in Joomla. But how to get traffic from the search engines?
There are several things you can do to ensure that Google and other search engines are picking up your pages. This will, over time, give you search engine positions for your keywords.
Without indexation, no positions, and no traffic from search engines. It's not rocket science, but you need to make sure that your pages are reachable by search engine spiders to get indexed.
I'll show you six steps to get your site indexed by Google and other search engines.
Without indexation, no positions, and no traffic from search engines. It's not rocket science, but you need to make sure that your pages are reachable by search engine spiders to get indexed. I'll show you six steps to get your site indexed by Google and other search engines.
Why it's important to get indexed by the search engines
Getting your pages indexed in Google and the other search engines is among the first steps towards getting valuable traffic to your site. The search engine spiders crawl the web continuosly in search of new and updated pages. The time it takes the spiders to find you depends on a number of factors, of which I will outline the ones I consider most important. These steps will ensure that the search engines finds all of your pages, and it will increase the speed with which they are indexed.
Indexation is crucial to get your pages positioned in the search engines for relevant keywords. This will turn into relevant traffic to your site - by people seeking what you are writing about.
1. Linking is key
Before doing anything else, you need to understand that the only way a search engine will pick up your pages is if there's a link to each one. Spiders follow links. Thus, the site will not be possible to index if your pages are available through search only. A blog or section layout will do, as long as there's a link to each article somewhere, the spider will find it. You don't need to create a separate link directly to each article with the menu manager.
Getting links from other, relevant sites is of course the best, but for the purpose of this post I will focus on what you can do on your own site to improve the indexation rate.
2. Your template makes a difference
If you need good search engine visibility you need a template that is search engine friendly. So what does this mean? In short, it means that the template should:
- Be created without tables for layout, using DIVs and CSS
- Contain table-less template overrides for content layouts
- Be created with semantics in mind - ie the content comes before the menus, and sidebars in the source code (this ensures that the content appears as early in the code as possible).
- Return valid HTML and CSS
If you buy templates from RocketTheme, YooTheme or other commercial template providers, most of the templates are search engine friendly. This can make a huge impact on getting your site indexed. The better the template, the easier it is for the search engine to pick up your content.
I haven't used too many free templates, but please check the above points if you decide to use a free template for a business critical site. Chances are it's worth the money to invest in a commercial template if you need search engine friendliness.
3. Create sitemaps for users and search engines
An XML sitemap is, ideally, an XML file that contains links to every page on your site. I use the extension OSMap from Alledia to create Joomla sitemaps, both HTML (for the users) and XML (for the search engines). Note: OSMap uses your menus to create the sitemap, so your pages needs to be reachable from a menu (directly or through a section or blog view).
4. Submit your site to Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is a place for Webmasters to manage their websites in relation to Google. If you have a Google account, Google Webmaster Tools is completely free. You can check your indexation, submit XML sitemaps, test robots.txt and much more. The most important thing, however, is to submit your XML sitemap to Google.
You sitemap URL when using Xmap will typically be something like:
Submitting the XML sitemap is very easy to do. It will take a couple of hours for Google to pick up your sitemap after submission.
5. Make use of Robots.txt for submission
I borrowed this from sitemaps.org:
You can specify the location of the Sitemap using a robots.txt file. To do this, simply add the following line including the full URL to the sitemap:Sitemap: http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml
This directive is independent of the user-agent line, so it doesn't matter where you place it in your file. If you have a Sitemap index file, you can include the location of just that file. You don't need to list each individual Sitemap listed in the index file.
You can specify more than one Sitemap file per robots.txt file.
So, in addition to submitting your XML sitemap, you can enter something like the following into your robots.txt file (found in your Joomla installation root folder):
You will find the links to your own sitemaps (HTML and XML) under 'Options -> Preferences' in Xmap.
6. Check which pages are indexed
To check which pages are indexed for your site in Google, search for the following: site:www.YOURDOMAIN.COM (replacing YOURDOMAIN.COM with your actual domain - hehe)
To check in Yahoo, go to http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/ and search for your URL. This will also give you a list of inlinks for your site (pages linking to your pages).
End note about search engine visibility
I hope this gives you something to start with and wish you luck on getting your page indexed fully in the search engines. Just remember one thing: You now have the tools to get your pages indexed. That does not mean that your content is considered relevant enough by the search engines. This is crucial to achieve good positions for important keywords.
A later post will explore how to make sure your actual content is search engine friendly and relevant, and how that will give you positions and, ultimately, more traffic to your site.