Safely Editing your Joomla Website

Last modified on Saturday, 02 August 2014

A quick background to Joomla

Most modern websites use a Content Management System (CMS) such as Wordpress or Joomla. The main advantage of Joomla is that it gives website owners, bloggers and indeed anyone without knowledge of HTML the freedom to edit their website and blog without the external help.

Whilst Joomla gives some of the power back to the website owner, there are a important rules follow, and common errors to avoid when creating your own Joomla articles and modifying existing website content.

Today I will show you how to safely edit your Joomla website without causing problems to your website.

Common errors to avoid when editing your own Joomla articles

First up, lets clear any confusion - an Article, is the Joomla term for a webpage. Now that is clear, let's go about identifying some of the common errors that can be easily be made when editing a Joomla article so that you can avoid them ... and a little troubleshooting should you need it.

  1. I edited my Joomla page causing it to look bad or misaligned.
    This is often down to HTML errors caused by using the text editor incorrectly or too much. You will need to ask your web agency for help.
  2. My webpage has disappeared.
    This can happen if you unpublish your article, change the article category, or accidentally delete it. First ensure that the article status is Published. Next ensure that you have not accidentally changed the category (which would cause the article to move to a different position in your website). If this fails, you will need to go back to your web agency for help.
  3. The webpage gives a 404 Error (page not found).
    Most likely you have changed the page Alias or Category, causing the page to be moved to a different part of your site. As we will see below, the link should never be touched. Dont worry - the page is still there, though you will need to go back to your web agency for help.
  4. The page link get's changed causing your webpage to fall in search engine rankings.
    As in point (3) above, most likely the page URL (the webpage link) has been changed. As Google does not like it when webpages get moved (it can confuse their ranking system), the page link should never be touched, if this happens, you will need to go back to your web agency for help.

Safely Editing Articles in Joomla

So once your website is online, follow these rules whenever your edit Joomla articles to get the most out of your website, boost your website visits from search engines, and avoid making the common mistakes.

Getting started with Joomla Articles

  • Log on to your Joomla Admin Panel. You can usually access this by inserting the url www.mysite.com/administrator/ into your web browser (make sure you substitute your actual domain in for mysite.com)
  • From the main menu select "Content" / "Article Manager".
  • You will now see a screen with a list of all of the articles on your website. You should be able to work out which article refers to which webpage from the Title. From this screen you can add new articles; edit any existing articles; publish/ un-publish articles; and even delete articles should you need to. We only recommend using the Edit option unless you really know what you are doing.
  • Click on the article you wish to edit.
  • Make the necessary changes using the instructions below.
  • Once finished make sure you click "Save and close". Otherwise the item will remain locked and other website administrators will be unable to access it.

The compulsory fields in a Joomla Article

Which fields you can safely edit in a Joomla article

1. Title

The Title should clearly describe what your article is about. You can safely edit the title, though if your web agency have optimized your webpages for Google (i.e. if they have SEO'd your website), it is wise to avoid making major changes to the title. Click here to learn more about SEO.

2. Alias

The Alias is usually just a repeat of the title. On some websites, it is used to determine the webpage address (or URL), so please DO NOT CHANGE THE ALIAS

3. Category

When creating your website, your webmaster will have set up a selection of Categories. The Category is an extremely powerful field that dictates under which section of your website the article will appear. Changing the Category field may move the article to a different section of the website.

In general once your website is live will have no reason to change the Category - doing so could even upset your page link structure and SEO. If your item has been published for more than a few days, always check with your web agency before changing the Category.

4. Status

Status is a straight-forward "Published"/ "Unpublished" field. If you want to remove a page from your website simply set the Status to Unpublished. You can revert back to "Published" whenever you want.

5. Content

The content tab is where you write the text for your new page.

We are now in the world of Web 3.0 and the Semantic web. Realistically if you want Article to rank well on Google, then we advise a minimum of 1000 words, and ideally around 2000 word of high quality, informative copy. Simply put, if there are better pages out there on the web covering the same subject, then you will struggle rank well and get new visitors from Google.

A word of warning about using the Text Editor:

  • Keep use of the Text Editor buttons to an absolute minimum.
  • Applying bold, underline, italics and headers to the article is time consuming and your site will not be uniform.
  • Any good web designer will have built your website using a central graphic override file called a .css or .less file. From here they will be able to control the look of your entire website in a few seconds - rather than you going through every single page to make a graphic change.
  • Controlling the graphics from the central graphic override file will ensure that your website has a consistent professional look throughout.
  • Although you cannot see it, text editors often adding lots of unnecessary code to your page, making your website slower to load, and harder for Google to rank.

6. The Image and Links tab

Although technically not compulsory, adding your page is a wise idea. The truth is that although we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, we all do! Choosing a striking image that reflects your page will work wonders for your article especially on social networks. Looking for free images? Try these free stock image websites.

7. Meta Description

Open the Publishing tab and click on the Meta description field. The Meta description is what will show up in Google search listings.

Use your Meta description to elaborate on your page title and give your potential audience a better idea of what will be on the page when they click. A typical search results page has 10 website listings, so a well written Meta description will ensure your website stands out and will improve your click-through-rate. Your web agency should have written a meta description or each page when setting up your website. Though if you need to make changes, aim to describe exactly what your page is about using superlative terms and even the odd UPPERCASE word to give your page a competitive advantage.

Google shows 150 - 160 characters (including spaces) of a page's description (aka meta description tag). If your Meta description exceeds 160 characters it will be truncated.

8. The Image Button

Use the image button (found directly below the Text Editor) to add images at set points throughout your article. First of all, click within the article texts exactly where you want the image to appear, hit the "Image button", and a pop-up window will appear.

  • You have the option to either select the image directly from your server or upload from your computer.
  • Align image to left or right
  • In the Image Description field add a short sentence that describes what is in the image. As Google cannot see your image, it will use this description to enhance it's understanding of your page - this can help improve your search ranking.

How to create a new Joomla Page / Article

Although you can create aa new Joomla article (see instructions below), depending on how your website is set up, the new page may not show up on your website until your web master has created a menu option that links to the new page.

  • Log on to your Joomla Admin Panel
  • From the main navigation menu select "Content" / "Article Manager" / "items"
  • Click on new.
  • Procede to create your new Joomla article following the guidelines above.

Tl;nr

  • The Title field should explain clearly what your article (web page) is about. Unless instructed otherwise, leave alone, as the Title is important for the SEO of your website..
  • A catchy, well written Title and Meta description are hugely important factor in boosting your website visits. Better titles and descriptions will improve your we website click-through rate from search engine rankings (find out how to create the perfect search engine listing)
  • Once you webpage is live, NEVER change the Alias or the Category fields
  • If in doubt, the Alias should be the same as your Title
  • Keep use of the text editor to an absolute minimum, leaving all graphic aspects to your web designer

Final thoughts

I hope that our Guide to Safely Editing your Joomla Website has been beneficial and that you will go on to use it. If you found it useful, please share with other Joomla website owners using the social buttons provided. We love to hear your comments, so if you have any questions or feedback, please let us hear it.

Still need help with your Joomla website:

Mike Fitzpatrick

Mike Fitzpatrick is the founder and web developer at Jeyjoo web design. He works with both individuals and companies to grow their businesses online.
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