Interviews Web Development

Interview with Simon Kloostra, Joomla Craftsman and SEO Prof from Netherlands

4.33/5 (3)

He knows all ins and outs about SEO of any Joomla website, shares these insights on his popular blog Joomlaseo.com, and has also published the ebook Joomla 3 SEO & Performance. If this is not enough, he’s an experienced web designer in addition.

Have you already read new Joomla guide from Startup Hub? Among Startup Hub regular authors Simon Kloostra came out as invited expert on Joomla SEO and design.



We asked passionate Joomla insider 12 short questions and got the most capacious answers possible. So we share them with you — read about SEO for newbies or advanced users and find some tips for your Joomla website.

Emily Hunt: Tell us about your first experince with Joomla. Was it love at first sight? When did you stop on it for good and all?

Simon Kloostra: Actually my first date was with WordPress, but at the time we did not connect that well 😉 So I turned to Joomla and had a much better time. As I’m always a very loyal guy I never changed my choice, though I must admit that at another time it could have been the other way around too, I am not one of those who is almost religious about his CMS of choice: both have their pro’s and con’s. Having made a choice though I decided to stick with Joomla, as I’d rather be a specialist in one area then a generalist in multiple areas.


 

Emily Hunt: Please name 5 things you love Joomla for.

Simon Kloostra: Well, the first reason is that, like WordPress, Joomla makes it incredibly easy to build a website. In about 5 minutes you can install Joomla, with a nice template, add some pages and ready you are. For me, as an SEO specialist, there are some specifics about Joomla that I like particularly:

  • The option to add metadescriptions and page titles is built in the core, I do not need plugins for this.
  • Slightly more advanced users will sooner or later need to redirect URL’s in their site, for example when they change their site structure. For this, the built-in Redirect manager is extremely valuable.
  • For performance, which is also one of my favorite subjects, Joomla also has options for various levels of caching and G-zip.
  • Building multilingual websites is also really easy in Joomla, no plugins needed.

Especially for smaller sites, I can really do all I need using just the Joomla core options, which really keeps sites light and simple.


 

Emily Hunt: How do you see Joomla in 5 years from now? Your forecasts and wishes for its development.

Simon Kloostra: I know for some of my wishes development is in full swing, while for others ideas still need to be worked out. Especially release 3.6, which is due later this year holds some improvements that I have been awaiting for a long while: One development that is close to being published is the Joomla Router improvements by Hannes Papenberg. This would be a massive SEO improvement. Also for 3.6, an upgrade of the media manager is planned, which should improve image uploading and editing a lot. Another improvement I was eagerly awaiting too is the possibility to add custom fields to Joomla articles. Actually, these three features are the most wanted improvements that I was waiting for, so the list of further improvements I really wish for isn’t even that long.

My main wish now is even simpler update mechanism, preferably fully automated, even though the mechanism is already much improved.


 

Emily Hunt: What would you recommend in terms of SEO to a complete newbie?

Simon Kloostra: Beginners often think that SEO is really complicated, but the basics aren’t that hard, they just take time and effort. And you don’t have to be perfect from day 1. Just focus on the obvious stuff. The good thing is that if you build your website with your visitors in mind, it will often appeal to Google too: build your site in a structured way with a logical navigation and clear distinctions with categories and you’re halfway there. If you also assign basic metadata like page-titles and metadescriptions you are already at 80%. It’s only the last 20% that gets really technical.Only start with the more advanced topics if you’re more familiar with SEO. Often I see people jumping into changing their site and installing complex SEO extensions without enough knowledge about what they’re doing, in the end actually hurting their SEO.


 

Emily Hunt: Where does one start? What are the concrete steps?

Simon Kloostra: First you should review your global configuration settings in Joomla, as these are the foundation. After your site is live, these settings can often not be changed without consequences, so get them right from the start. Then create logical categories, fill them with articles (with metadata) and assign these to structured menus, preferably no more than 7 items per level. After your site is live, monitor it. A simple test to see if your site looks healthy in Google is to use the command site:example.com. This often shows you how Google displays your site in the search results. Often you will also see that many pages are shown that you did not expect to see (like login-views, tag-views, etcetera), allowing you to do something about them if needed, like setting a NOINDEX attribute.


 

Emily Hunt: How long does it take an average blogger to achieve SEO “wisdom”?

Simon Kloostra: It depends how much you want to study on the subject, but spending just a few hours of reading already helps a lot. Both Google and Moz.com have written a beginner’s SEO guide, and both manuals give you a lot of information that is easy to digest.


 

Emily Hunt: Would you tell about your keyword research workflow and tools you use for it?

Simon Kloostra: First of all, don’t forget the really obvious ones like simply using Google: both the auto-suggest feature and the related searches option at the bottom of the Google.com page are often overlooked. Then the free Google Adwords Keyword Planner is an indispensable tool to gather more keyword-variations and search volume. A secret trick that I keep telling about though is a tool that people often don’t expect: Google Search Console. If you access the tool, check the Search Analysis option. If you then filter the Impressions column, it brings up a list of keywords you are already ranking for, often without you even realizing it. You can then use this knowledge to further optimize the relevant page for this keyword.

Outside Google, SemRush is probably the best keyword-research tool there is, and they allow for some limited free information.


 

Emily Hunt: Are there any tools or “tricks” for Joomla to make SEO easier?

Simon Kloostra: First of all I want to say that many people often think about SEO too simple. I am often asked: can you SEO our site for us, expecting me to flip some magical switches which automatically raises their rankings. SEO is hard work, requiring page-by-page actions. Someone once said: “SEO is like going to the gym. You have to work hard to build fitness and after a few months, people take notice” and I think this is very true.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any tools to make life easier. With some good tools, managing your SEO efforts in Joomla becomes much easier. Especially an extension like OSMeta is excellent for managing metadata in a structured way and keeping an overview. Especially for beginning SEO’s in Joomla, just this extension, plus a sitemap extension (OSmap or Jsitemap) are all you need.


 

Emily Hunt: Let’s imagine a hypothetical blogger who reads all SEO guides over there, adds all possible keywords, writes wonderful unique content, but still has no search engine traffic. What would you recommend him/her?

Simon Kloostra: Tricky question, but if he or she actually has achieved all this without any decent rankings, he probably needs to take action to get noticed: his on-site SEO is probably perfect then, but he also needs to work on off-site SEO: Links and social media.

Linkbuilding is a bit of a dirty word these days, as links should actually be earned, but without being visible, how can you earn links? So a little bit of linkbuilding is probably required to kickstart this process. A few links acquired by yourself may be enough to get the wheel spinning, but these links should actually be valid. Even though directory-submission sites are usually not the way to go, you could try some large and reliable ones like Blogcatalog.com or Alltop.com or promote your site via book marking networks like Delicious.com and StumleUpOn. Actually, On my blog Joomlaseo.com I currently have a lot of valuable links, but I never asked for a link, they all grew naturally, together with a steady growth in Google rankings.

The best way is to use your own social networks of colleagues and friends to get yourself noticed, but you shouldn’t be too shy... Still, this hypothetical blogger should understand that it may easily take a year or more before your actions start paying off.


 

Emily Hunt: First things you pay attention to while coming to a new website. What are some terrible mistakes they often repeat?

Simon Kloostra: The most obvious one is that the page-title for the homepage menu-item is left to the default “Home”. When you know that this is the title that you instruct Google to use as the headline to show for your own site-result in their search results you know that this is really bad.

Another issue I often see is that people create multiple menu-items linking to the same article. This generates multiple URL’s, all pointing to the same content. This is a source of so-called duplicate content and is not good for your rankings at all.

Apart from that, lack of structure is definitely number two and number three is being too generic with your content, or even copying other website’s content. Don’t do that, make sure you’re unique!


 

Emily Hunt: What motivated you to write your (e)Book: Joomla! 3 SEO & Performance? And how at all did you come up with the idea?

Simon Kloostra: This actually evolved quite gradually. Three years ago I got the idea of starting the Joomlaseo.com blog during the Dutch Joomladays. As it quickly became a very successful blog and I liked writing about the subject, a few months later I came up with the idea to write a book too. Actually I recall this exact moment: I was brushing my teeth at night when the idea popped up. The first version of the book was written in a month’s time after which I self-published it. After a few months Apress.com checked in on me whether I was willing to publish the book with them, and so I did.

After all, the book was received pretty good. Especially the 5-star rating on Amazon proved me that the book is really appreciated. Also, even after almost a year, the book is still up-to-date really well. Even though Joomla evolved in the meantime, the SEO changes were minimal.


 

Emily Hunt: Do you have any favorite blogs or particular authors you read every day? Tell us about them.

Simon Kloostra: Sure, quite a few, as I need to keep up with my topics of course. To name a few:

  • Moz.com, being the major player in the SEO software field has a great blog. Especially their Rand Fishkin has his Friday Whiteboard video’s on the blog that are very interesting.
  • Neilpatel.com is a guy that writes very long and in-depth blogposts about SEO on his blog.
  • Yoast.com: These are the WordPress SEO guru’s, but their blog has many general SEO topics, great for anyone to read, also non-Wordpress-readers.

Then I have a number of general SEO blogs that I follow: searchenginewatch.com, searchengineland.com, searchenginejournal.com and thesempost.com.


 

Emily Hunt: To summarize it all, what should Joomla community expect from Simon Kloostra in the nearest future? Any plans, conferences, projects your fans should know about?

Simon Kloostra: Short-term plans are to speak on Joomladay Netherlands 2016 and probably a final overhaul of my Joomlaseo.com blog. I will probably focus more on offering SEO audits, similar to how the Yoast guys do for WordPress, though the main focus will always be to offer great content related to SEO.

In the Netherlands I am currently busy organizing an SEO Expert session together with Perfectwebteam.nl, the company of Sander Potjer and Martijn Boomsma and Yireo’s Jisse Reitsma, three guys well known for their work for the Joomla community worldwide.

And of course I will continue to follow the SEO developments closely and reporting on the consequences for Joomla on my blog!