21 Reasons Why Your Joomla Website Doesn’t Get Traffic

One of the common questions we get from our customers is: “Why is it that my Joomla website doesn’t get the traffic that it deserves?”

We take a look at their websites and then we answer their question. After a while, we discovered that the reasons why a Joomla website doesn’t get the traffic it deserves are very much generic, and so we decided to write this post that will list the 21 top reasons on why a Joomla website doesn’t get traffic. So, without further delay, here are the reasons (in order of no importance):

  1. Your website is using an old version of Joomla: We have noticed that the older the version of Joomla a website is using, the less traffic this website will get. The logic behind this is that Google most likely thinks that a website that is not kept up-to-date all the time is not a serious website and thus reduces the rankings of that website for its competitive keywords in its search engine listings.

    Remedy: Always update your Joomla website to the latest version. We know that it can be hard, but the benefits far outweigh the work, the time, and the money spent on doing the update.

  2. Your Joomla website keeps on getting hacked: Website hacks are common nowadays and Google expects that any website, regardless of its importance, will get hacked at one point. Google will not penalize your website if it’s hacked once in a blue moon. But, if your Joomla website is repeatedly hacked, or if it’s left with a virus for an extended period of time, then Google will ultimately delist it entirely!

    Remedy: Upgrade/migrate to the latest version of Joomla and contact some Joomla security experts to help you secure your website.

  3. Your Joomla website doesn’t have SEF enabled: SEF ensures that your links are readable and memorizable by humans, and consequently by robots! Not enabling SEF will mean that your URLs will be very technical and will not contain any keywords relevant to your article/post (except for those keywords present in your domain name, if any). Enabling SEF is a must if you are serious about getting traffic to your website.

    Remedy: You need to enable SEF on your Joomla website. Enabling SEF is easy but can be a bit tricky because it consists of 3 steps:

    1. Enabling SEF from your configuration page,
    2. Enabling the System – SEF plugin and,
    3. Renaming the htaccess.txt file (located under the root directory of your website) to .htaccess.

  4. Your Joomla website is slow: Slow websites are not search engine favorites mostly because they have a higher than average bounce rate and because search engines often fail at indexing some of their pages. A Joomla website might be slow for several reasons, the most important one is not using caching. Caching is a necessary evil – it might cause problems and conflicts with certain extensions, but it must be enabled or else your website will be so slow that search engines (especially Google) will wonder whether it’s worthy and beneficial for their users to send traffic your way. We have seen this frequently with our customers: Those with caching enabled receive considerably more traffic than those with caching disabled.

    Remedy: 1) Enable caching. Caching is enabled in the configuration page and by enabling the System – cache plugin (enabling the latter will enable page level caching, which is the most important form of caching in Joomla). If you’re using Joomla 2.5, go with conservative caching and not with progressive caching. 2) Go with a reliable (albeit a bit more expensive) hosting – never go with cheap hosting companies that cram hundreds (if not thousands) of websites on one box.

  5. Your Joomla website doesn’t have a global meta description and keywords: If we had a dime for every Joomla website we’ve seen without meta description and keywords on the homepage then we’d be ultra-rich by now. We find this odd – because doing this will have a dramatic (positive) effect on the search engine rankings of any website, and it takes literally minutes to do. Oddly enough, there are many websites that have all the other areas optimized, with the exception of this very critical area.

    Remedy: Add are a relevant description and keywords to your Joomla website on your configuration page.

  6. Individual pages on your Joomla website don’t have a meta description and keywords: Search engines first check the meta description of your website’s pages to rank them for specific keywords. If your website’s pages don’t have any descriptions, then search engines will treat some of the content on these pages as descriptions or assume that the global description of your website is the same as that for those individual pages. While meta descriptions and keywords are not that important as before, it is still a good practice to add them.

    Remedy: Add meta descriptions and keywords to your articles (especially the important ones) under the “Metadata Options” (on the right of the edit page of any article). Now while there are tools that can do this for you automatically, it is better to do it manually because you’ll be more meticulous in choosing the content for these two fields.

  7. Pages on your Joomla website don’t have a browser page title: Imagine going to a website called thebestcoriander.com. Seeing thebestcoriander.com in the browser title for the homepage is acceptable – but seeing it on every other page is not acceptable and will harm your search engine rankings.

    Remedy: Choose a specific browser page title for every page. You can set the browser page title in the field that is (surprisingly) called “Browser Page Title” under the “Page Display Options” in the menu item for that page. Always ensure that the page title is relevant to the content of your article.

  8. You Joomla website has a lot of 404 pages: Having a few 404 pages on your website is the norm and not that harmful. But having hundreds or thousands of them means one of three things:

    1. You’re trying to game search engines.
    2. You have migrated to a newer version of Joomla but you didn’t maintain the previous link structure.
    3. Your website is very old and you have a lot of stall links.

    Any of the items above (especially the first one) can have some serious consequences on your search engine rankings and ultimately your traffic.

    Remedy: 1) Don’t game the search engines ever! They will find out automatically (that’s their job) or someone will report you! 2) Always check that your previous links that are cached in the search engine results still work. If your previous link structure cannot be maintained, then have a Joomla expert develop a System plugin that will do a 301 redirect from old links to their equivalent links in the new website. (we can do this for you, just contact us!) 3) Have a dedicated resource constantly check your Google Webmaster tools and fix all those stall links.

  9. Your website’s link structure is not stable and/or not consistent: Let’s say that you have a Contact Us menu item under an About Us menu item. So, the link to your contact us page would be the following: http://yourjoomlawebsite.com/about-us/contact-us.html. All of a sudden, you decide to move the Contact Us menu item to be at the same level of your About Us menu item, and so the link to your Contact Us page will be http://yourjoomlawebsite.com/contact-us.html. Of course, if you do this for just one article once ever year then it’s not a problem, but if you do it constantly, then you will lose rankings of the affected pages.

    Remedy: Plan your site structure very carefully before even starting the website. If you want to make some massive changes to your link structure, then do them all at once and then ensure that you have 301 redirects from the old pages to the new pages. Stability and consistency are key to maintaining a good search engine standing.

  10. Your Joomla website doesn’t have 301 redirects to redirect identical pages to the same place: Google is a bit finicky about pages with duplicate content. Pages with duplicate content tend to dilute each other’s importance if there are no 301 redirects that ensure that the importance of pages with identical content is delegated to one single page.

    Remedy: Use the “Redirect” component (which can be found in the backend of your Joomla website under Components) to create 301 redirects to pages with identical content.

  11. You’re not using URL canonicalization: URL canonicalization is another way to deal with duplicate content on your website. It tells search engines what the mother page of a page is which ensures that search engines will only index the mother page. Not using URL canonicalization will dilute the importance of your pages in the search engine’s results.

    Remedy: Implement URL canonicalization. There are many ways to do this, either customizing some 3rd party tools (such as “sh404”) or developing your own, intelligent solution to URL Canonicalization in Joomla.

  12. Your Joomla website doesn’t have a sitemap: Sitemaps, believe it or not, are still read and used by search engines to discover pages that are not linked or are deeply linked from your Joomla website (or from any other website for that matter). Admittedly, the importance of sitemaps is dwindling every day, but it’s still a good practice to have them, especially to drive traffic from search engines other than Google (such as Yahoo and Bing, which both use the same infrastructure).

    Remedy: Use the built-in extension in Joomla 1.5 or a 3rd party extension in Joomla 2.5 to develop sitemaps to your website. Note that it’s not worth it to develop a sitemap if your website has only a few pages or if all your pages have a maximum depth of 2 (in other words, any page can be discovered by just clicking on two links on your website).

  13. Your Joomla website is not using nofollow on non-important links: The more dofollow links (default types of links) you have on a particular page on your Joomla website, the less authority the linked pages will gain from these links. Think about a page’s importance as a whole pizza, if you have only one link on that page then that link will get the whole pizza. If you have two links then each of them will get half the pizza, if you have 3 links… (well, you get the point). But, there are some links that don’t deserve to gain any importance, such links include links to your Contact Us page, links to 3rd party websites, links to social websites, links to temporary contests, etc… So, to ensure that these links don’t eat anything from that pizza, all you need to do is to add a nofollow value to the rel attribute to the anchor tag of these links! This way, your other links will be stronger and will have a bigger piece of the pizza!

    Remedy: Add “nofollow” to links pointing to non-important pages, 3rd party websites, social websites, etc… You can easily do this in any Joomla editor.

  14. Your Joomla website indexes non-important content: Sometimes, some of your content steals traffic from your other, much more important content. Let’s say, for example, you have a page named Our Best Coriander – Test and it appears before your page Our Best Coriander in the search results for Best Coriander. This page is literally stealing traffic because it is getting traffic that should’ve gone somewhere else on your website (to the non-test page).

    Remedy: Always add the “noindex” directive in your robots.txt file for pages/directories that you do not wish to have their content indexed. You can also specify a “noindex” directive at the page level in Joomla by choosing “No-index, no-follow” as a value for the “Robots” field under “Metadata Options.”

  15. The HTML on your Joomla website is not valid: It is a fact that valid HTML/XHTML increases the search engine’s confidence in your website and, consequently, its search engine rankings. Invalid HTML has a slight negative impact on the search engine rankings of your website.

    Remedy: Use W3C’s online tool to check if your site’s HTML is valid or not. If it’s not (which is usually the case), then hire a designer or a Joomla developer to fix the HTML.

  16. Some of your pages on your Joomla website have errors: Pages with fatal errors usually just display the error (the actual content will not appear). Pages with warnings and/or notices will most likely break the design and affect the functionality of the website. Unfortunately, search engines are not that smart when it comes to handling errors, so they index, for example, pages with fatal errors (which makes those pages irrelevant to your visitors). Additionally, visitors who see a warning or a notice on your website may miss some of the features that your website has and will most likely label your website as unprofessional and never visit it again. This will increase your bounce rate and will ultimately reduce your traffic.

    Remedy: Have quarterly reviews to check your website for errors. Do not treat errors/warning/notices lightly because they are never good news and they can seriously harm your search engine standing. Always hire a professional to fix the errors. (do not try to fix the errors yourself)

In the first 16 points, we have discussed the technical reasons that may lead to poor traffic on your Joomla website. In the next 5 points, we will discuss the non-technical reasons. (keep in mind that non-technical reasons may have more impact than technical reasons):

  1. Your website has little, if any, original content: Original content is the main factor that drives traffic to any website. Without it, the website is considered to be shallow and redundant. Search engines do not care about indexing/promoting websites that have all or most of their contents copied from other websites.

    Remedy: Ensure that your website has no content/negligible content that is copied from other websites (also ensure that you get permission to copy that content from these other websites, because if they report your website then you might see it suddenly de-indexed or penalized). Ensure that all of your pages (or the absolute majority of your pages) have your original content – and if you must copy content from other websites, then make sure that you reference the pages on these other websites where the copied content is located. (also make sure you get the permission to do so)

  2. Most of the content on your website is not helpful: It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality – always! Hiring someone to write nonsense content to enhance the rankings of your website is a poor way to promote your website (and may dilute the value of the pages with helpful content on your website).

    Remedy: Ensure that all the content on your website is helpful to your users and that it is well written (e.g. correct grammar, no spelling mistakes, correct use of punctuation, etc…).

  3. Your Joomla website is seldom updated: When you build a website, any website, you will need to nurture it. Nurturing your website means that you ensure it is always up-to-date and that it always has new content posted. Unnurtured websites will slowly lose traffic from search engines until their traffic becomes negligible.

    Remedy: Update your website frequently. Have a blog on your website where you write about the technical challenges that you face in your workday and how you resolve them. Engage your visitors by allowing them to post comments on your articles/posts. Remove outdated content that serves no purpose (such as expired offers/expired contents/etc…).

  4. Your website has too much advertisement and little content: Advertisement is a good way to generate money, but overdoing it will reduce your profits, annoy your visitors, and affects your search engine rankings because of high bounces. If you are first seeing ads instead of seeing content when you’re visiting any of your pages, then most likely you are overdoing it!

    Remedy: Never use popups or interstitial ads on your Joomla website. People hate them and they increase bounces (search engines do notice bounces and will re-calculate the importance of your website accordingly – high bounces are inversely proportional to traffic). Keep your ads organized and avoid having too much ad zones.

  5. Your Joomla website has a poor design: You might think “How can a poor design have a negative effect on traffic?” Well, a poor design will increase bounces, and the higher the bounce rate your website has, the further down your website will appear in search engine results. A poor design has a terrible effect on the rankings of a website, regardless of its content.

    Remedy: Do not design your Joomla website yourself if you’re not a designer. Hire someone to do this for you. Use as little images as needed and substitute images for text when possible. Use soft and easy-on-the-eyes colors that complement each other. (check the Adobe Kuler tool to find beautiful and harmonious color schemes)

If you’re reading this post and you’re wondering who’s going to help you accomplish the technical steps, then fear not – we can! Just contact us and we’ll ensure that your website is technically sound from a search engine perspective in no time and for a small cost. Always keep in mind though, that even if your website is technically fully optimized for search engines, it won’t get any visitors if it doesn’t have any content – and this where your work begins!

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