Unbelievably I was asked that question this week from a prospective client, as you can imagine my jaw hit the ground. I don't mean to sound patronising, but seriously!
Joomla Menu Structure
Every website needs good menu architecture, clear user navigation is vital. You're wasting your time and money on pretty pictures and design concepts without clear navigation and high quality content. At Dean Marshall Consultancy we try and insert all articles into one consolidated menu. Lots of small menus makes navigating your site a nightmare and furthermore make module management within the website difficult for the administrators. If you can, you should put your articles into one menu and create a single menu module to display a list of links for the category you are browsing. As an added bonus breadcrumbs and Search Engine Friendly URLs will also be more consistent.
Creating Effective Landing Pages
The main pages or top level pages should be thought of as stand alone 'Landing Pages'. These are pages that are the main focus of a section of the site that you want to bring specific search traffic to. Landing pages should tell the site users what they can find in this section of the site, and clearly direct them to the information or product they are looking for. Think of them as mini home pages for their relevant area of the site.
Landing Page Layout and Design
Layout of Landing Pages can differ greatly, some will have concise content at the top with buttons or links below to the underlying services or products pages, finished off with detailed content below the buttons/links to give further information and of course, to add to the pages SEO strength.
One of the main tasks of an SEO campaign is to bring traffic to these landing pages. This is where the battle is won or lost - these pages need to be built in a way that allows them to ranks highly in search engine results pages and equally importantly, ensures that they are easily readable by a human, can be clearly understood with an obvious 'what do I do next' - what marketers call the 'call to action'.
Home Page Links to Landing Pages
Now to the reason for this post, some people believe that building a page several levels deep within the menu structure will weaken the search engine listing capabilities of that page. This is not true. Yes, you will lose link strength but the title, headings, good content and page structure are what counts. Your URL will be longer but also have more keywords in ( relevant ones may be further along the chain ). Search engines do not see length of URLs as depth within your site and therefore do not give them less importance.
Does Page Rank Still Count
People may refer to 'page rank' at this point and that it drops by one point per menu level, but that was Google's first go at search listings some twelve years ago, these days page rank is used by web developers as an indicator and not an accurate measure of page strength. The landing page concept clearly shows this. At DMC, we link to some of our clients' landing pages, providing high quality backlinks to these landing pages, to the point where these internal pages have higher page rank than their home page.
Joomla Website Development and Good User Experience
Linking to your landing pages from your home page should be the most obvious thing to do, the main reason for me is user experience. If I'm looking for what I know to be your main service and I have to delve through three levels of menus and pages to find what I'm looking for, I'm quite rightly annoyed and bemused by the poor experience I've had on your website. Secondly, it means that search engines see and index the page from your home page, normally the most viewed page on your site.
Joomla's Search Engine Optimisation Strengths
Joomla has one main advantage when it comes to two ways of navigating to a page.
Joomla has an inbuilt menu structure that the WYSIWYG editors can pick up on and enable content creators/editors to use simply. This means you can link directly from the home page using the menu structure and avoid content duplication.
Avoiding Duplicate Content Links - Canonical
In terms of search engine optimisation, linking from the home page and the menu structure does throw up one issue, you can end up with the same article being accessible via two different URLs. In general search engines don't like this, it shows as duplicate content in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. At best they will rank and list one of the pages and not list the other, at worst they will consider this search engine spam and not list either. See this page on SEOmoz for more information.
This can be fixed with a rel="canonical" tag, but Joomla does not offer an easy way of using this tag.
Joomla Search Engine Optimisation Campaign
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