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Joomla Day Bulgaria 2011 Summary (With an Emphasis on SEO Topics)

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Hello again everyone – time for me to deliver the report from Joomla Day Bulgaria 2011 that I promised. The event happened yesterday in a nice and cozy lecture hall in a university in Sofia, Bulgaria and took a lot longer than expected, hence me writing today rather than last night. There were four speakers and about eighty people audience consisting mostly of web developers, web designers, small business owners and marketing agencies. Almost all topics discussed were put in the context of the Bulgarian rather than global online market. In this attempt of a summary I will try to concentrate more on the SEO-related topics discussed rather than various Joomla-specific topics.

1.What’s New and Hot in Joomla 1.7
2.Joomla 1.7 vs Joomla 1.5
3.Google Places Optimization in Bulgaria
4.General SEO Advice from Ivo Apostolov
5.Importance of Mobile Websites

Joomla Day Bulgaria 2011

What’s New and Hot in Joomla 1.7

The forum started off with an overview of the development and popularity of Joomla. Maybe the most fascinating fact from this section of the talks is that an estimated 2.7% of all websites on the web are built on the system. Then there was a discussion about what’s new and hot in the recent stable Joomla 1.7. As it turns out, apart from minor, yet convenient interface changes such as “Save&New” and “Save as Copy” buttons in the article editor, there were some more major advancements, too. These include multi-language support integrated in the core of the system (even URLs in different alphabets with no plugin!) and significantly improved ACL control. Also, one of the default templates in Joomla 1.7 is written in HTML5, which according to early allegations is greatly favored by Google, making it suitable for SEO purposes. It was reiterated that, as implied by a previous article that I wrote, anything under IE9 has a horrible HTML5 support.

Joomla 1.7 vs Joomla 1.5

Opinions were greatly in favor of working with Joomla 1.7 if starting a new website, rather than using version 1.5. Since migration from 1.5 to 1.7 is easy and straightforward, the advice is to even update an existing website to version 1.7 if the extensions used are compatible with the new version. These advices were backed up by the fact that about 100 to 150 new extensions for version 1.7 are added every day, which means that it will inevitably catch up with version 1.5 in the very close future. One decision that needs precaution, however, is building e-commerce shops on version 1.7 – apparently, this is still not fully tested yet. Version 1.6 was proclaimed short-lived and doomed even before its birth. Luckily, in order for “mistakes” such as it not to happen again, Joomla will start releasing its updates on a regular, a lot more frequent schedule. The major versions, which will be supported a lot longer and contain a lot more functionality will be the ones ending on .5 such as 2.5, 3.5, etc.

Google Places Optimization in Bulgaria

Joomla Day Bulgaria 2011

Joomla Day Bulgaria 2011

The next section of the forum concentrated on specifics of Google Places optimization in Bulgaria. This aspect of a business’ SEO is even more important for Bulgaria than for the USA for example, because Bing and Yahoo have an insignificant share on Bulgaria’s search engine market. There are, to different extent of certainty, several differences with other, western versions of the product. For example, according to the presenter, Eduard Dimitrov of 3D Web Design, in Bulgaria, it is still possible to insert keywords and location in the title of the listing itself and get away with it, hence it is even encouraged. I am guessing that there are insufficient moderators to supervise such a tactic. It seems like linking to your Google Places listing from your website has virtually no effect for Bulgarian listings, either. Also Dimitrov claims that including the business’ listing in several user-created “my maps” still has a positive effect on ranking for Bulgarian listings. If that turns out to be true, it is extremely interesting since a great number of Google Places specialists have denied the number of references in user-generated maps as a factor in any country since the major update Google rolled out last October. Some features of Google’s algorithm, however, seem to work the same across different versions of Google Places – whether a comment on the listing is negative or positive is disregarded in favor of mere quantity of the comments.

Joomla Day Bulgaria 2011

Joomla Day Bulgaria 2011

A quite curious point that Dimitrov made was that he tested whether link building for one’s Bulgarian Google Places page works and he can confirm that it does not. Whether link building towards one’s Places listing works is a point of controversy on a global scale, hence it is nice to receive any data on the issue, even limited to a particular country. As a matter of fact, we here at OptiLocal are more inclined to think that link building for the Places page does not work for the U.S. version of the product, either.

Dimitrov concluded by pointing out that users searching for free items such as “mp3″(assuming the user wants to download free mp3′s, which is generally the case in Bulgaria) click mostly on organic results. According to him, there is a greater chance of users searching to buy, especially expensive items, to click on the paid advertisements.

General SEO Advice from Ivo Apostolov

A presenter whom it was a genuine pleasure listening to, was Ivo Apostolov. He is a successful Bulgarian entrepreneur – apart from being one of the creators of the official Bulgarian Joomla portal and other successful Bulgarian websites, he is a top professional in financing. Ivo gave some interesting SEO advice. For example, try to include payment and delivery options in the meta-description of one’s pages, if pertinent. He also confirmed that including the company name in the title of a page, if at all, should be at the end of the tag. Another opinion of his was that if you are sufficiently skilled in good SEO practices, the “Joomla-vs-Wordpress-for-SEO” argument is not all that important and is mostly negligible. Therefore, he does not shy away from building more complex websites on Joomla rather than WordPress as he personally finds it easier.

Importance of Mobile Websites

Later on in the program Ivo reiterated the importance of mobile versions of the website. He gave himself as an example of someone who would change his habits on the desktop or laptop according to his mobile usage, since he browses from his mobile phone so much. For example, if he gets used to reading a particular news website on his cell phone because it has the best mobile version among its competitors, he would also pick the regular version of this website over its competitors on his desktop. Mr. Apostolov stressed that a mobile website is a must for specific business niches such as restaurants and road assistants but that there is still no need for mobile e-shops on the Bulgarian market. While there are some habits of buying from one’s smart phone forming in the west, this is very far from being a trend in Bulgaria, yet. Another main reason in defense of mobile websites is that Google gives a great advantage of mobile websites when the search is issued from mobile devises, whose usage increases exponentially.He advised web builders who want to optimize a web version of a website to check out the appropriate documentation in Google Webmaster Tools since Google use a separate bot to crawl mobile websites than regular ones. Also, contact information in the meta description of pages on a mobile website for a service such as road assistance are highly advisable since many users wouldn’t even want to bother enter the website.

Other, more technical and Joomla-specific topics included a discussion of the K2Mart component for building e-shops in Joomla, security against hacks for a Joomla website, advises on how to implement a mobile website in Joomla, working with the T3 Template Framework, etc. I am not going to go in details about the content covered in these topics since I assume that they are mostly irrelevant to the readership of this blog.

I hope that this summary of yesterday’s Joomla Day Bulgaria 2011 forum was useful to some of you. I certainly enjoyed going there and meeting some new faces and writing this post from the lovely cafe that I am in!

  1. Jo Shaer
    Jo Shaer10-19-2011

    Nyagoslav, Just having my first exposure to Joomla this week. It seems like a cross between Drupal and WordPress. It’s nice enough but Im more familiar with WordPress and so naturally I prefer that. Early days so will keep at it.

    Interesting to read how GP in Bulgaria differs from the US – I guess the UK are sort of midway between the two. I have done a couple of links from my website back to my GP Page, just in case they change their mind in the future. The Big G is a fickle creature :)

  2. Vladislav Todorov
    Vladislav Todorov10-20-2011

    Hello Jo, my name is Vladislav, Nyagoslav’s partner. There is another person actually posting in this blog now!
    I think that even if you get equally familiar with Joomla as with WordPress, it is always going to look more confusing than WordPress:p. On the other hand, maybe it is easier to build more heavy-duty websites with Joomla, such as ones including e-commerce, etc, rather then “bloggy-looking/feeling” ones. Anyway, good luck with your Joomla learning!
    And also yeah, naturally Google would have the most supervision, innovationts, etc. over GP in the USA, then the U.K. and then Bulgaria – invest more in the bigger markets..

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