How to Make Joomla URLs Search Engine Friendly, or SEF - dummies

How to Make Joomla URLs Search Engine Friendly, or SEF

By Seamus Bellamy, Steve Holzner

With Joomla 1.6, all of the web pages and websites you create with Joomla are search engine friendly (SEF), with SEO features built right into the default Joomla installation. The core feature allowing for CMS’s ability to churn out SEF content can be found in the backend Global Configuration page.

To open the Global Configuration page, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your site’s back end as a Super User or Administrator.

  2. Choose Site→Global Configuration to open the Global Configuration page on any back-end page.

The Global Configuration page plays host to a SEO Settings pane — your one-stop shop for ensuring that the pages created by your Joomla installation are search-engine friendly with little or no fuss.


The first set of settings in the pane — Search Engine Friendly URLs — has two radio buttons: Yes and No. The option is set to Yes by default. How does Joomla make your web pages and websites Search Engine Friendly? By generating a static URL.

You can’t understand what a static URL is without knowing about what lurks at the other end of the spectrum: Dynamic URLs.

Dynamic URLs are web page addresses that are generated as a result of the search of a database-driven site (such as Joomla.) The URL is considered to be dynamic because the web page’s content is generated on an as-needed basis using information from the database. This is a big difference from a static URL, which is usually generated by a website that has been hard-coded in HTML.

Under such circumstances, no changes to the page occur unless the site’s administrator makes them occur through the injection of new code into the page. When the site isn’t being viewed, it is still there, residing on the server, for all intents and purposes — static.

That’s a far cry from the way that Joomla pulls together content from a database each and every time someone wants to take a peek at what a site has to offer.

A URL with (top) and without (bottom) SEO enabled.
A URL with (top) and without (bottom) SEO enabled.

For most users, leaving the settings found in the Global Configuration page’s SEO pane in their default positions should allow for Joomla to produce static, search-engine friendly URLs from the get-go. However, some additional tweaking may be required.

Although Joomla-created static URLs are much better than dynamic URLs in search engine terms, they still can be improved. Search engines like to see keywords — terms that people can enter in search engines to find your site — listed in the URLs of your various pages.