Setting Up Search Engine Friendly URL’s in Joomla (SEF URL’s)

Setting up Search Engine Friendly URL’s in Joomla is an absolute must if you want to get the most out of your Joomla site. It’s one of the first things I do when setting up any new site and will help you get more visitors from search engines and improve the likelihood that people will link back to your articles – simply because the link looks a lot more attractive, is shorter and less cumbersome.

Most importantly search engines tend to rank content with a search engine friendly URL more highly due to the keywords that are contained in the URL. If you look at the URL of this very page you will see:

This URL tells Google, and other search engines, that the page is most likely about a number of things, such as; Search Engine Friendly URL’s, SEF and Joomla. This reinforces the other primary on-page factors Google looks at, the page title tag and content.

Another very nice side-effect of a SEF URL is that when somebody copies and pastes your link into a blog or forum they give you a link back with keywords in the URL. This is a big bonus, and something that will be explored again in a future blog post.

In this video I show you as quickly as possible how to setup basic SEF within Joomla (yeah I can’t help rambling about little details – It is a long video again, and I’ve got a slight cold, sorry!)

If you want to skip straight to the quick SEF URL checklist and resource list this is under the video.

Quick check list to get SEF URLS working in Joomla

  1. Access htaccess.txt in your root directory and rename it to .htaccess
  2. Visit your Joomla Global Configuration and in SEO settings set all options to ‘yes’ and save.

To access your root directory you can either use FTP or your web host’s file manager, as I have done in the video demonstration.

FTP access is something I consider essential for anyone serious about running a Joomla site, or any website for that matter – it still surprises me how many Joomla users I meet who have no idea what this is or how easy it is to setup. With FTP you can access your Joomla installation and manipulate files directly – you can upload and download files, rename, change permissions, etc.

If you want to access your site with FTP then here are a couple of quick tools I recommend:

  1. Firefox – A free web browser – from our web stats I know that more than 50% of people visiting Joomlabear already have Firefox – this message is for the other 50% – Get Firefox here!
  2. Fire FTPFireFTP is a free plugin for Firefox that lets you FTP into your website directory from within your web browser, as seen on TV in the video above. Get FireFTP here (Install Firefox first, then add this plugin).

To access your site with FTP you only need the following:

  • your FTP address, usually
  • A username, your hosting account login usually works
  • A password, your hosting account password usually works.

If in doubt contact your web host for these details.

If you prefer the file manager option, Blue Host offer very affordable and reliable hosting and cPanel can save you a lot of time with many different admin tasks. You can also get a free Joomlabear template membership with any new Blue Host account – more details on this offer and Joomla hosting with Blue Host here.


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  1. Joomla’s Search Engine Friendly URL system has been greatly improved in recent releases, and now works quite nicely (in most cases) out of the box. Some people really do struggle with setting up SEF, so here is a very basic guide to getting it up and running!

  2. Thank you so much. This is absolutely by far the best, most concise joomla video tutorial I’ve ever come across. Thank you for doing that.

  3. It works easy but… it makes my website very slow. When you click a menu item, it takes seconds before it is shown while it normally (without the SEF url) is shown within miliseconds. Besides that, some of my pages (of some components I installed) are not shown as they should be (images are not shown for instance). So I turned back to not so SEF url’s.

  4. Great Tutorial. I have a question though. Is doing this, the same as installing sh404sef or artiosef? What do those components do that this simple solution doesn’t? Or is this all I need to do to get the sef urls?

  5. Clear, concise and effective. Nice :)

  6. So how do you remove the category number in front of the article title in your urls?

    How d you remove the Global site name in page titles of every single page and just show the article title?

  7. Thank you so much for the tutorial! This is extremely important to SEO. I appreciate the time and effort you put into making this.

    Tim Harden

  8. I can’t rename the .txt file in my root folder, says this file ( .htaccess )already exists.

  9. On one of my sites I cannot find the htaccess.txt file. I can only see fantastico_fileslist.txt. and robots.txt. Which should I rename or what do i do?

  10. awesome. thanks a lot.

  11. Hi

    I don’t think all this works on a windows server…

    Please tell me … cause I’ve tried it and get bad things…


  12. Hi there
    just wanted to let you know that even as a newbie that have been developing a site for some time now, i can see there is a lot to learn still. It’s good exlpanations like this that help us all get along. Well done and thanks.

  13. I did what the video said but my sef urls would not work. any advice?

  14. Thank you so much! Very easy to follow. I’ve been trying to figure this out forever!!!

  15. I have tried following your tutorial, but when I try to change the htaccess.txt file to .htaccess, I get this error:

    “Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
    Please contact the server administrator to inform of the time the error occurred and of anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.”

    What is causing this problem and how can I resolve it?

  16. Great. Simple and Easy to understand. Thanks BigBear.

  17. Thanks! for some reason I had two .htaccess files. Even if it is .something it will try and use that file.

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