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How to Make Search Engine Friendly URL in Joomla - Part 1

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How to Enable Search Engine Friendly URL in Joomla

Making your website SEO friendly is a tough job. And when you are running Joomla it is even tougher. But let's not get carried away. Let's take on this challenge and solve the problem once and for all.

​In order to completely solve this challenge, we divide this guide into two articles. The second part will be available in the coming weeks.

Our Approach 

Whenever we need to take on a challenge, we should come up with a strategy. And the strategy I follow all the time is to:

  • Completely understand the problem
  • Divide the task into little pieces
  • Solve one piece at a time
  • Take on the next task and repeat the process
  • Combine all the pieces together

Problem Definition 

By default when we install Joomla for the first time. We get URLs like the following: 'yourwebsite.com/index.php' 

This 'index.php' gets stuck to every page we make. Like the link for About Us page would be the following: 'yourwebsite.com/index.php/about-us'

This is bad for SEO and our today's goal is to drop this 'index.php' part from all the pages of our website.

Steps were taken to reach our goal 

Step 1: Login to your Joomla website backend and go to the Global Configuration settings. You do that by going to Joomla backend > System > Global Configuration.

Step 2: The Site (tab) should be selected by default. You'll see the SEO settings on the right-hand side. Find "Search Engine Friendly URLs" and make sure it is set to "Yes"

Step 3: We need to be a little extra careful when in this step. It is the most crucial part cause we need to log into the website's file system. We'll change a file name which is "htaccess.txt" and can be found in the main directory "public_html/www" with other important files like "configuration.php" or "index.php". Let's change the file name from "htaccess.txt" to ".htaccess"

Note: you need to have Apache mod_rewrite enabled in order to rename any file. There's a high chance you'll see the file is already renamed and is hidden. Then enable hidden file view to make sure it is there.

Troubleshooting: if you happen to get to a "500 Internal Server Error", then open the ".htaccess" file, comment the following two lines by adding # at the beginning of the sentence. Then reload your site. This should solve the error, in case it doesn't, contact your hosting support.

"#Options +FollowSymlinks"
"#Options -Indexes"

Caution: It is a complex process and might cause broken links to your site. So it is advised to change the settings back to default if you face any trouble.

Step 4: Finally, we need to head back to our Joomla website backend. Navigate to Administrator > System > Global Configuration > SEO Settings. Find "Use URL Rewriting" and set it to "Yes". This completes our process.

The fruit of your hard work 

Your hard work is done, now it's time to taste the fruit. Go to the frontend of your site and experience the fresh new URL structure of your site. The new link for your About Us page is:  "yourwebsite.com/about-us"

There's no more "index.php" to bother you or the search engines. Hard work always pays off right? I hope this article helps you improve your Joomla website SEO performance. Keep an eye out for the second part of this article which is scheduled to publish in next week. I'll be sure to add the link here when it does. Don't forget to let me know your thoughts on this. Happy Developing.

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