Joomla Tutorial

I’ve created sites based on Joomla a few times now, but the huge amount of time between each implementation means that I forget all that I learn in the process and have to embark on the same fact gathering mission each time. This beginner’s Joomla tutorial is for people who forget!

I’m going to assume that you know how to install Joomla and start the proceedings at the point where you are trying to do something with it. This guide will list the common problems faced by Joe Average and will detail solutions that you can use to resolve them.

Welcome To The Frontpage

The default title for your homepage is welcome to the frontpage, which is no good to anyone. You want something meaningful in there, but where can you change the title? Here:

In your admin panel, click Menus > Main Menu.
Click on the Home link.
Open up the Parameters (System) section on the right.
Change the Page Title to the text you want displayed there.
Click Save and then see your gleaming new home page title on your spangly Joomla powered site.

SEF Joomla

SEF simply means Search Engine Friendly and refers to how URLs are constructed for maximum search engine benefit. This is the bane of all webmasters wanting to SEO their Joomla sites. There are a number of steps to perform, but believe me – it’s a piece of cake. If I can do this, then you certainly can.

Click Site > Global Configuration.
Look at the SEO Settings on the right. It’s not important to understand them, just follow the instructions.
Make sure everything is set to “Yes” – Search Engine Friendly URLs, Use Apache mod_rewrite, Add suffix to URLs – turn them all on.
Make sure you have a .htaccess file. Whenever I’ve installed Joomla, there has always been a htaccess.txt file that I’ve renamed to .htaccess to make everything work. You won’t get SEF URLs unless you do this.
Change the $live_site setting in configuration.php to / or http://www.example.com or http://example.com. Whenever I’ve done this, I’ve used http://www.example.com successfully.

Important: you may have to trial and error each combination of the above settings to get this to work. Always make a note of the value you are changing from so you can revert if necessary. With that warning out of the way, let me reassure you that following the above steps worked perfectly on the three implementations I’ve completed in the past.

Remove Article Id From URLs In Joomla

This is also related to making your URLs search engine friendly. Unless you do something about it, each link and article page will include a pesky article id, which is both unsightly and which potentially dilutes your keywords (if you believe that sort of thing). Let’s get shot of them.

I haven’t found a way to do this by changing Joomla settings, but I have found Joomla extensions that do the trick. This year, I am mostly using HP Router For Joomla. It really is a doddle to use:

Save the extension to your hard drive. Leave it in its zipped form.
Install the extension by clicking Extensions > Install/Uninstall. Browse to where you saved the extension, and click Upload File & Install.
Activate the plugin by clicking Extensions > Plugin Manager, and click in the Enabled column against it. It’s as simple as that.
Take a break. Have a kit kat.

Redirect Non-WWW URLs To WWW URLs

You might not need to do this. You can check for a redirect’s presence by navigating to both www.example.com and example.com. If one doesn’t get redirected to the other, read on…

Note that I always use 301 redirects in my htaccess file to do this, so that is the method described here. Download the current live version of the .htaccess file from your site to ensure that you’re modifying the right file. Yes, I know I’m stating the obvious, but you won’t thank me if you overwrite all your settings simply because I didn’t remind you. Remember what happened with Aunti Cath and that trumpet.

Add this code to your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomain\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

I always put this at the top of the file.

Addendum

If performing any of the above modifications causes your site to melt, please let me know. I shall keep adding useful bits and bobs and amendments to this article so that it can be of use to fellow Joomla fearfuls.