Joomla is an easy-to-use and very popular content management system (CMS) that is the basis for millions of websites. And it’s pretty easy to optimize your Joomla website for the search engines — if you know a few SEO best practices to use and how they work with Joomla.

Here are 13 of the best SEO tactics for Joomla websites, starting with easy tasks and getting more technical as we go. Not all of these are Joomla-specific, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, but these tips are a great place to start:

  1. Make sure your Contact Us page is optimized. This is especially important if you are a local business and need to do some local SEO. But even if you’re online-only, it’s still a good idea to keep your company information consistent across the web. Specifically, your NAP data (meaning your company name, address and phone number) should be the same everywhere, and updated promptly if it changes. An embedded Google Map of your location is also helpful and easy to add.
  2. Add your NAP data to the footer of each page, too.
  3. Sign up for your Google Places for Business account and get verified. This helps your business get found not only on Google Maps but also Google + and regular Google searches. And you can add your hours of operation to your listings, which is especially helpful for your mobile users.
  4. Sign up for a Google Analytics account and a Bing Webmaster account — both of which are good sources of the kind of metrics you’ll need to make your Joomla site a success.
  5. Sign up for a Google+ personal account and set up your profile. This will come in handy when you do the next step and begin to build your AuthorRank.
  6. Create a blog and start writing useful, informative blog posts. There are a number of ways to set up a blog with a Joomla website, all with their own strengths and weaknesses, so we won’t cover them here. But whichever Joomla blog platform you choose, try to post at least twice a week. Blog posts can be as long as you want, but no shorter than 500 words for best search ranking results.
  7. Fully develop your content. Do you have one single page that lists all your products and/or services, with no individual product pages? Give each product or service its own page, with well-written and descriptive content that answers (or anticipates) customer questions. Then the search engines will have a lot more content to index, and they’ll understand more about your site and what you offer — leading to better search rankings.

And now for the more technical ways to improve your Joomla website’s SEO:

  1. Use the free Xmap Joomla extension to create a site map — then submit that site map to Google via Google Webmaster Tools.
  2. Make sure you have “Search Engine Friendly URLs” and “Use URL rewriting” enabled in the SEO settings area of your Joomla Global Configuration. Please note, though, that to use the URL Rewriting function, you’ll need to rename “htaccess.txt” to “.htaccess” and install the mod_rewrite.
  3. Optimize your images so they load faster and offer better SEO. In the JCE editor, you can add alt tags (Alternative Text) to images and set the dimensions of the image so the image load time speeds up a little. If images are going to display at a different size anyway, go ahead and resize them yourself so they will load faster.
  4. Install the SH404SEF Joomla extension, which can help you change 404 pages into 301 redirects, edit meta titles and descriptions, create even more SEO-friendly URLs for your Joomla pages, and help avoid duplicate URLs.
  5. Make sure your Joomla site doesn’t contain duplicate content, which can occur when you use multiple categories for the same content and is horrible for SEO. Google Webmaster Tools can help you find any duplicate content you might have, and you can then clean it up with SH404SEF.
  6. Be selective with your internal linking: Don’t link to duplicate pages, only to one version of each page. (You’ll need to play favorites.)

Joomla SEO can involve an endless amount of extensions and technical tweaking, and this article is by no means a definitive guide to SEO for Joomla websites. But if you’re just starting out or haven’t done much in the way of optimizing your Joomla website, these tips are a great place to begin.