Blogging is a great way to get more traffic to your site and communicate with the community interested in the same topics as you.
Search engines such as Yahoo! and Google love blogs because of the fact that articles written in blogs are mostly up-to-date and they get the information about the update of a blog really fast using RSS Feeds and Pings. Articles posted on a blog with these two options in place can get into the search engine indexes within hours, sometimes even minutes.
How is blogging good for SEO?
Using a blog has some advantages that fair really well if you want to have more visibility in the search engines. We will be looking at some of those advantages and how they can affect your search engine rankings. I am not saying blogging is easy, but it is very rewarding.
Creating fresh content
Creating short articles about your favorite topic and publishing them on a regular basis is the best way to get into the search engine results pages faster. The number one thing about blogging is that you can write long articles or short articles. The combination of the two different formats won’t break the flow of your site, unlike a normal web site, where you mostly write articles that are built with a certain length. You can also state an opinion about things that are going on in your community and write news items. All that in one web site without worrying too much about how to structure all the information.
A structure is needed for SEO and Joomla! will force you to use the structure you have chosen for your site. Using Joomla! as a blog will make it easier for you as you will be using the categories created in advance to hold that information for you.
Google and blog indexing
If you set up a blog and start using the sites and services we will be looking at, like FeedBurner and Technorati, you will notice that the major search engines also use these services to index blog sites and find new posts really fast. Now Google even owns FeedBurner! You will not only syndicate your articles using options such as RSS Feeds, but you will also push your articles through Technorati, the number one site to show your blog to bloggers.
Google has a special tool with some basic categorization in place for searching blogs; you can find it at http://blogsearch.google.com.
One good thing about this blog search tools is that it will show you how “old” a blog post is. For example, under the title you will see a statement such as 10 hours ago just to prove how fast you can get an article indexed from a blog.
Setting up Joomla! as a blog
Joomla! was not built to be a blog in its basic form, unlike WordPress. However, Joomla! has a built-in layout function called Blog layout that can be used for sections and categories. RSS Feeds are also built in, but we need to put an extra component in place to get a commenting system. First things first, let’s set up the basic structure of your Joomla! based blog.
How to structure your blog section
The first thing you need to do is to come up with a section name for your blog.
You already have an extended keywords list, so it should not be difficult to set up a blog. In my example site I have set up a Section called Garden Pools Blog and the Alias I want to use is garden-pools.
This alias is going to be included in the SEF URL and contains some of the keywords I want to target with the blog.
Once that is ready, you need to create the main categories, which of course will be the main topics of your blog section.
Choosing your blog categories
Again you need to find the right keywords to put into your category names. The best thing you can do now is to focus on the topic you want to blog about. It is really essential that you think about these categories and name them the right way, or you will get into trouble later on. Once you know about the SEF URLs, you might find yourself in trouble if you have the same category names as in the main site.
In my category for this blog I have used the category name Water Gardens, depending on my choice of URL construction in the sh404SEF component. It is possible that I may not use the same category name for the main topics of my site.
If I were to use the same category name they both would get the URL http://www.cblandscapegardening/water-gardens/, leaving one of the categories not reachable. One workaround would be to change the alias of one of the categories, but that would still leave a duplicate title on your site which you would need to change. Google would show it as a possible duplicate title in its webmaster content analysis. You can prevent this by choosing your categories wisely.
Therefore, it is important to think about these URL structures, when you start naming and creating the blog categories.
Stay focused and limit yourself
If you start naming the categories make sure you stay on the same blog topic and keep the terms as relevant as possible. Don’t create too many categories as you are going to create a separate menu for the blog. Too many categories will fill your menu with a long list of topics, and the visitors will not be able to choose from this long list. It is also not a pretty sight to have such a long list in your sidebar.
Limiting yourself to a smaller section of categories, which you want to connect your articles to, will help you to stay more relevant to the topic of your choice.
Creating a blog menu
Once you have set up your categories, it’s time to create your blog menu.
Start with creating a new menu and call it whatever you want to, give it a title like The Garden Blog as in my example site. To set this feature go to your administrator panel and choose Menus | Main Menu from the menu bar at the top. After that choose New.
Make it short and to the point so that it is really easy to find it on your site. Go to the Extensions menu, choose Module Manager, and Publish the module in the location you want it to show on your site.
The first thing you should do is create a link to the section in which you are going to put your blog posts, and change the Parameters(Basic) to match the layout you want:
- #Leading is set to 1, which means one full length article to start with
- #Intro is set the 6, so you have the introduction text (that is the text before the “read more” link) from six articles, getting a total of seven on the blog page
- Columns is set to 1 to get a complete overview of the articles in a listing that is not broken into two columns after the first Intro article
- #Links this is the number of links with the title of older articles that don’t show on the blog page anymore
After setting the Parameters(Basic) you need to set the Parameters(Advanced) as well:
- Change the Category Order to Order and the Primary Order to Most recent first.
- Make sure you have the Show a Feed Link set to Yes—only for this menu item. This option is set so that we can get a full RSS Feed over all the blog categories
For a blog, you need to change some of the settings in the Parameters(Component):
- For a blog you need to Show the Author Name, the Created Date and Time, the Show Navigation, and the Read more… Link
- The Article Rating/Voting depends on you, for me its set to off, as I don’t like the dotted rating icons.
The commenting system will give your visitors the ability to share their thoughts about your article, rather than just rate them, unlike the rating system. You will learn more about such a commenting system later in this article.