Search Engine Optimisation for Joomla 1.6With the new release of Joomla 1.6 we see a whole list of new features from improved content structures, access control and an updated framework.

A few extra features that have made its way into the system include new search engine optimisation features which will give all novice and expert search engine specialists more control over certain aspects of optimisation.

This article is a run down of the new SEO features that have been implemented into the core of Joomla 1.6.

Redirects Component

Redirect Manager

Joomla 1.6 now comes in with a built in 301 redirection system. This means you can now safely redirect your broken links (404 errors) to where they are actually suppose to go. You can also use the new redirect system as a URL shortening system such as bit.ly. or tinyurl.com This is great for visual presentation of URLs for social media since you can use custom shortened URLs off your own domain name.

e.g. http://www.pbwebdev.com.au/joomla

Not as short as TinyURL or BitLy but you get the general idea.

Meta Data Control for Categories

Metadata for Joomla categories

Previously in Joomla 1.5, there was a lack of metadata control over the sections of categories that existed. This lead to pages with not meta descriptions or meta keywords or even worse, the global meta being duplicated across all of these areas.

There are options to use third party components in Joomla to control this but hopefully Joomla 1.6 should reduce the reliance on these other third part components. What I’d love to see is third part extension developers extending the core SEO functions.

More Metadata Fields for Articles

Joomla Articles metadata

With more control of meta data for categories, we also see the introduction of more metadata fields for articles. One in particular is the meta xreference field where you now have the option of adding in a reference source for your article page.

Robots field is now also populated with a drop down select box with all the different combinations available.

Author meta can be set if desired as well as content rights for the article.

Title Control

Administrators now can control what titles appear for pages as well as add in the site name to the title. No more extra plugins are needed at add in the site title.

Improvements to Code Output and Semantic Layouts

Previously in Joomla 1.5 we saw a large amount of tables being outputted in the default code. All of this output of course can be overwritten with Joomla’s template HTML overrides but now in 1.6 there is less need for the overrides as the code is semantic.

What’s Missing

With all the new SEO features that are in Joomla 1.6, there are still quite a list of things that are missing from it. These include :

  • Canonical meta tags to get rid of duplicate URL issues to dynamically generated URLs
  • Custom metadata fields for addition of Dublin Core and AGLS metadata
  • Custom SEF URL creator, rather than the automatically generated SEF URLs

It is still too early at this stage to see what the other extension developers are coming up with in terms of third party SEO extensions for Joomla 1.6 but it should be interesting to see what products come out.

Is it Time to Start Using Joomla 1.6 Yet?

Well, not quite yet. Joomla 1.6 just made it into Release Candidate state RC1 so there are still a few bugs to iron out before it is production ready, but we’re all waiting eagerly for the change.

Although with the imminent release of Joomla 1.6 this month/week/day, users and developers should seriously start looking at picking up Joomla and putting it to use.

At this point in time I’d personally still stick with Joomla 1.5 and a combination of either AceSEF or SH404Sef and additional plugins to control all of your SEO in your Joomla website. Until the final components I need are available for me to build websites effectively, I can't personally move to Joomla 1.6 but hopefully soon.