The Beginners Guide to Joomla Metadata

beginners guide to metadata

In "The Absolute Beginners Guide to Joomla's Aliases" you learned how Joomla's URLs are actually set up in your Joomla site. Now it's time to talk about Joomla metadata.

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to control what appears in Google search results when people find your site. We'll show you how to modify Joomla's meta title and meta description.

We highly recommend you download a copy of OSMeta before trying this tutorial. OSMeta is the best way to manage your Joomla metadata.

By default, Google tends to show three things about your site. Here's the Joomla metadata from OSTraining.com:

  1. It shows the URL. You learned about Joomla's SEF URLs and about how to troubleshoot them earlier in our blog.
  2. It also shows the title.
  3. It also shows the description. This is normally a couple of lines underneath the title and the URL.

Joomla Metadata in google search results

These are known as the meta title and the meta description as well. The reason they have a different name is that because they are normally hidden in the code of your website.

You are unlikely ever look at your site and see the meta title and meta description unless you see them at the browser bar at the top of your site when sometimes your site title is used.

Joomla Metadata getting started metatitle

What you are going to do is to see how you can get control over your Joomla metadata. One quick note before you begin. Google has a mind of its own.

You can suggest the Google what the title is going to be, and what the description is going to be. But Google does reserve the right to change both of them if it thinks other information about your site will be more useful to people doing a search.

By default, there is only really one option that you can change about the title on a Joomla site. That is done from System and Global Configuration. Earlier in this blog, you went to the SEO settings on the right-hand side and changed the Search Engine Friendly URLs.

site name in page metatitle

In this lesson, you are going to go a little bit deeper into the settings. You are going to take a look at the Site Name in Page Titles setting.

What this would do is it puts your site name either before or after the main title of your content. The site name is chosen on the left-hand side on the Global Configuration, under the Site tab.

site name field

On this particular site, the site name is OSTraining. You have a choice of not including it, or putting it after your title, or before your title.

three options to include site name in metatitle

My recommendation is that you consider adding your site name if you think you have the name people will recognize.

For example, if your company's name is Apple Computers or Microsoft, then there is a good chance that people will see your name in search results and they will be more likely to click on it. Or even if you just have customers who are returning to your site.

If they bought something from you before and they see your name in the search results, then they will most likely click on it.

If you chose the After option, then you will have the name of the article, and then you will have the OSTraining site name or whatever your site name is afterwards.

site title after page title

That is what is going to be suggested to Google for your search results. Fairly obviously, if you change the After option to Before, then the order of that page title will change. Your site name will come first and the title of your article will come second.

site name before page title

Unless you change the name of the article on your page, that is about all you can get for control of your page title with Joomla by default.

However, there is also an ability to control the description, to control the two lines of text that Google shows on the search results. You can control the description from inside the article.

If you wanted to describe this Getting Started article, what you would do is go to the admin area of you site > Content > Article Manager. You would edit your Getting Started article.

The metadata is found under the Publishing tab. If you click the Publishing, there will be the Meta Description option on the right-hand side.

meta description box for article

You are looking at about 350 characters. I will type into this field: "This is the description that will appear in Google search results. I have about 150 characters to describe this content."

metadescription text

Once you clicked Save or Save & Close, you will see this new description of the Getting Started article in its HTML source code.

getting started article new description

There are some other metadata items underneath but to be honest, you are unlikely to use those and they certainly won't appear in Google's search results. The Meta Description is the most important setting here.

One thing to empathize is that although the Meta Keywords option is included, you probably won't need to use it. Keywords used to be spammed by almost everyone building their site. In conclusion, what you have seen in these first few steps is what Joomla provides you by default.

My recommendation is that if you need a real control of your metadata and what appears in search results, you need an extension. 

Using OSMeta for Your Joomla Metadata

OSMeta is the best way to expand Joomla's metadata options.

  • Click here to visit the OSMeta page and download the extension. You are going to get the OSMeta installation files onto your desktop.
  • In your Joomla site admin, go to Extensions > Manage.
  • Click on the "Upload Package File" tab.
  • Click on the green button called "Or browse for file".
  • Find the OSMeta installation file on your computer and click on its name twice. This should initiate OSMeta installation on your Joomla site.
  • In a few seconds, you are going to get the message that the installation was successful.

Go to Components > OSMeta and see an overview of all metadata you have on your site. This is one single page that allows you to drill down and easily and quickly update meta titles and meta descriptions for all of your content.

meta data overview

Additional Reading

What's Next?

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About the author

Born from a Ukrainian mother and Russian father, Alex lives in the United Kingdom. Alex is a self-taught Microsoft Certified Professional. He enjoys learning Joomla and helping web site administrators make the most of it.