Google Webmaster Tools

The most important thing to do at the moment to optimise the appearance of your site in searches is to authenticate it with Google Webmaster tools.

Create a Google Webmaster account, if you don't already have one, and then add the site to your list. You will then be asked to authenticate that you are the site owner. By far the easiest way to so this with Joomla! is the "download html file" option - just save the file that Google provide to the web root and authentication will succeed.

You are advised to upload a sitemap to Google, and the Xmap Joomla! extension can do this.

In the Global Configuration, SEO Settings, turn the following on:
Search Engine Friendly URLs, Use URL rewriting, Adds Suffix to URL


CAUTION: It seems that turning force SSL on with SEF URLs on causes a redirect loop on some types of hosting. The cause is that SEF URLs get embedded into the generated HTML with http: prefixes. The only known work-around at present is to patch this code into the top of your configuration.php file after <?php:

<?php
if($_SERVER['HTTP_X_FORWARDED_PROTO'] == "https"){
	$_SERVER['HTTPS'] = "on";
	$_SERVER['SERVER_PORT'] = 443;
}

 This is distinctly clunky though, as it needs to be done again every time that you make a change to the global configuration from the Joomla! back end or you upgrade Joomla!

Metadata

Firstly, do not use the the Joomla! global metadata settings. What you need to do instead is to set something sensible for each page in your site as this article suggests.