Joomla and search engine friendliness

Xmas day, and it is kinda hot out here. It is close to 30 degC today, and for a girl that comes from the northern hemisphere, it feels quite unrealistic to have Xmas dinner in these temperatures. So we turned the airconditioner on, and we spent some time doing geeky things. The family thinks we’re weird anyways.

So what did we do? We tried to make more search engine friendly. I did install some analytic tools earlier already, and I see that some people do find the site even without me actively promoting it. It is a project which we prefer to do without placing screaming ads on the site, and we try not to upload crap, altho we do need some feedback from those that actually download the stuff to know what they think of it. Existing content needs to be tweaked further obviously, but we also realised that we better worked on SEO/SEF before we have too much content to validate.

We host the site on a linux platform, so used .htaccess to do some URL rewriting, and we configured Joomla to make use of this setting. Also the default SEF settings were enabled, we installed the SEF Patch from JoomlaAtWork as well as the sh404SEF component. The latter is a bit of a funny story – it is a free component, issued under GNU/GPL licence – but to download the latest version you are expected to subscribe to the official distributing website. I mentioned funny, because the licence allows re-use, modification and re-distribution. No need to say that there are several locations which are not terribly difficult to find that host the same file for free download. I understand that the developer no longer had sufficient time to do component maintenance, and therefore partnered with a commercial party, but to me this makes no sense at all. Download for free and pay a subscription fee for professional support would and certainly would prevent a wild growing amount of unofficial download locations and clearly focus on where to get paid support.

Screenshot of
Screenshot of

We also re-structured the site layout. Not so much the sections and categories, as we did that right from the start. But Joomla hosts the images a bit deep in the file structure: images/stories/… This bothered me, as I do want the images indexed, and I carefully named all of them prior to upload. But I am also a sorting freak – I love to have clear structures, so I happily created a few more sub-directories, which in retrospect are not search engine friendly at all. So back to the drawing board…

So we changed the image location and made sure it is not more than 2 levels deep. We made the directory accessible by the crawlers, so that the images will be indexed.

We carefully inspected the used meta-tags, and sofar we only used single word keywords, and no search phrases. Some work to do there. We created a target keyword list and used Google’s Adwords to generate possible keywords based on the site URL. Funny how the word illustration in an Inkscape tutorial leads to a full list of “Illustrator tutorials” and variations thereof tho. We do not want to draw people to the site with intentionally selected “skewed keywords”. You know.. you use a phrase that gets people to the site, but you are not offering whatever they searched for. We do not use Illustrator (or hardly ever) and tho the tutorials can easily be translated to this vector editor, we provide them now for Inkscape, so the Inkscape user is our main target. So we use Inkscape tutorials :D. Anyways, there is a lot more content to upload and more articles to write, and having a keyword list allows us to focus on a limited set that will eventually result in more traffic to the site.

Google’s webmaster tools let us know about crawl errors and provides HTML suggestions. In this case “duplicate metatag descriptions”, referring to pages where we left the meta-tag empty. More work to do! But the tools are awesome and give us clear indications what’s amiss.

Visit my Zazzle store!

I have always wondered how people can build up a successful business through internet. And I do not mean those that can do something extaordinarily, but just the John and Jane Does of this world. I see heaps of scam sites and I bet you know them too: “Buy this remedy and loose whatever you want to loose in weight in just 3 days” or “buy medicines cheap and end up with fake products”. I can believe that there are people desperate enough, or naive enough, to buy products from those crooks. But I could never run such a business (scam). That clashes with all my feelings of being honest, rigeous and feeling good about what I do in life.

I also think that most of the skills I have are not extraordinary. I dabble a bit in vector programs, 2D and 2D graphic programs, I love photography and I design and develop information systems. I have run some courses in scripting and building for 3D worlds and I have written some tutorials to show how some great effects can be achieved just by knowing what program and tools to use. I never considered making money with that. Mostly because it is fun to help others, and because I think it is just a trick and not a skill to know how to do things. Creating new and orginal designs is something that reveals the artist within, and not many have that talent.

Thing is that a lot of people without great talent, skills and just by applying tricks, are also making good money by using the internet. And I know that as long as I just keep thinking about it and wondering about it, I will never be in that group. So how to commercialise?? It starts by building a name, making yourself known on the internet. Link to several sites and start participating. Now that is not something new to me, but I am as paranoid as uhm.. dunno what would make a good analogy there.. but paranoid. I always have kept my identities in forums and websites I visit seperated. I am NOT a promoter of social networking.. I do NOT need fake friends …which is a funny thing to say as I moved from one site of this planet to the other for someone I met through the internet… I however would like to establish some business through the internet. So I have to be a bit more forthcoming and let all of this make sense.

I will work on this in the next few weeks, most likely in conjuction with the new domain I have set up. I have opened up my own store in Zazzle, where the funny designs I recently made will be available. So nothing more to add than Visit Syllie’s store!

Cool.. now only to figure out to expose this to more people. Anyone having ideas to draw more persons to this blog? I still got to learn a lot!

What draws people to a site?

I have no idea, really… I know some factors that are of imporance, like:

  • using good search words;
  • having your page indexed by a search engine;
  • optimize your page for search engines (SEO);
  • getting your page linked on other sites;
  • promote products that promise wealth withouth effort, make money sites and such

Maybe I can come up with some more, or if I google for relevant articles, I probably can make a longer list. The cause of my pondering is a simple one, I do get visitors for this blog (a limited amount tho, but hey I do not advertise this site anywhere, and I did not do any of the above). I also receive comments, where most are obviously fully automated, non-contributing ones. Even tho these may be seem as spam, as long as the comment does relate somewhat to the post I wrote and I do not get a comment a day from the same IP address, I let them get away with it. I received a bunch of spam too, clearly spam all from silly generated e-mail addresses, non-contributing remarks, and all from a few IP addresses. Of course those were deleted… I am not that forgiving.

So how do people end up on this page? Articles that received comments are ones with certain buzzwords (even tho they were probably not in the context that the commentator expected), and I assume that has a lot to do with it. I decided to repeat the words in this article and see what happens with the comments. Also note that in the above list a few buzzwords were introduced, so that may help too :D. The words I suspect of drawing a crowd are:

  • CMS
  • Umbraco
  • gadgets
  • update
  • WordPress
  • chances

So now post and wait. Update will follow.