How to make users click on the link to your website in Google search results?
I would like to welcome you to the first part of our Spring Cleaning for Joomla series! In this article I would like to focus on how to increase the chance of an user choosing your site from hundreds or more other Google search results. We will check if and how your site is indexed by Google, and what you can do to improve it. So if your site's visibility in search engines like Google does concern you, please read on.
How people see your website in Google search results?
Alright, let us get down to the nitty-gritty. First things first, let's see how your page is indexed by Google robot. To do that, go to https://www.google.com and type site:yoursiteaddress.com
Now you should see what subpages of your website are indexed by Google.
Nothing in search results?
If your site isn't indexed by Google at all, then it's high time to login to Google Webmaster Tools (https://www.google.pl/webmasters) and ask Google to index your page (more info on: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6065812?rd=1) also it would do you good to submit your sitemap in XML format.
How to improve your site's visibility in Google's search results?
Let's split this section into the aspects you can see when viewing results from a Google's search, that is: page indexed, their titles, URL's and descriptions.
1. Too few pages indexed
Generally if you want your subpages indexed by Google, you will need to add them to your sitemap - There are many Joomla extensions which could do that (for example JSitemap or OSMap), or you can do it yourself using for example an online sitemap generator like https://www.xml-sitemaps.com. if you want to exclude some of them, then use robots.txt - read more about it in the next paragraph.
2. Too many pages indexed
Next thing I want to address is how to exclude your subpages from a search engine results. This is done by editing the robots.txt file. In it you can specify which part of your website shouldn't be indexed by web robots. Besides manually editing the file found in your main Joomla folder you can set them specifically in Joomla's backend (for example for articles in Publishing > Robots) or globally (Global Configuration > Metadata Settings > Robots). A good idea is to use Google Webmaster Tools like robots.txt Tester to check if your robots.txt file is valid and Fetch as Google tool, so you can see how your page is crawled by Google robot.
3. Your page's title
This is one of the more crucial things is your page's title tag. Apart from the keywords meta tag, which most search engines are completely ignoring, this one really counts. Typically if you do not change anything you will see Home on most, if not all of your pages, which as you can guess isn't really good for SEO as your title first and foremost should be unique. There are a few ways to remedy it - in General Configuration you can include Site name in page titles, you can also manually change your menu item title in Page Display > Browser Page Title. Of course you can use external extension to do it, like SH404SEF.
Additionaly let me share with you the fundamental rules for a good title from a SEO standpoint: it's maximum length should be 512 px - check your metatag length using this tool: Online Meta Tag Length Checker, most important keyword should be in the beginning and besides your home page you should keep your site's name at the end of title (that is if you want to keep it at all and not replace it with more keyword phrases).
4. Make your URL's Search Engine Friendly (SEF)
Another important thing for Joomla SEO are Search Engine Friendly (SEF) URL's. Default Joomla URL's addresses are hard to read both for user and for search robot, which is why you definitely should enable SEF URL's in Joomla Global Configuration (take a look at a screenshot underneath) or via another extension.
5. Description and HTML markup
Description's main role is to sway and reassure people that this is just the site they are looking for. You should take care of it - it needs to be short, preferably between 150 and 160 characters, and properly advertise your site.
More tips coming soon
Stay tuned for another article in our Perfect Spring Cleaning series, coming next week! This time it will be dedicated to properly updating your Joomla and its extensions.
Now that you know how to properly manage your visibility in Google, you can share your outcome with us: post your before and after screenshots of your Google search results on Facebook and Twitter using hashtag: #perfectspringcleaning and we will feature them in our blog! And If you find this article helpful, please share it with your friends, followers and subscribers.