If I build a Joomla! site (J!3) without SEF, can I enable it 'after the fact'?

Will I have to do a lot of extra work?

What if I'm using sh404SEF - can I install and use this on Joomla! site that already in production, but not using SEF yet?

3 Answers 3


Technically, you can start the website without SEF enabled and can enabled it later. Enabling the core SEF functionality does not involve a lot of extra work. It is only enabling the SEF options in the global configuration and renaming the htaccess.txt file to .htaccess, if you want to enable also URL rewrite to remove the index.php from the urls. There are plenty of tutorials on how to achieve this.

As part of the extra work you mentioned, a piece of extra work could be considered some specific naming for the urls you will have after enabling SEF. For example you may decide that for some particular pages you want a different or shorter url, therefore you will have to rename the menu-item alias, or the article alias.

SH404SEF, you can install it and enable it at a later time as well. The extra work here will involve the configuration of the component and probably customization of the urls.

Finally, considering how google will treat your website URLs, if you enable SEF in a short period of time, then Google won't have the chance to fully index your site pages and their URLs. But in any case, after enabling SEF, Google sooner or later will update its index with the new URLs, but even any non-SEF urls will continue to work and direct users to the corresponding SEF urls of your website.


You can enable it after the fact, but be very careful when doing so. I would strongly recommend backing up your website before installing any SEF component.


If not done properly, activating sh404SEF on an already established site can have the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve. Why? Consider the points below:

  • Your current URL structure is most likely already indexed by several search engines.
  • Websites have probably linked to your pre-SEF URLs.

When you activate your SEF component it will change your URLs. If your SEF component doesn't map (redirect) visitors from the old URLs to the new ones you will lose SEO rank and get lots of 404 errors.

SEF components can be complicated (at least for me) and proper mapping (redirection) of old urls to new ones can be a pain.

Make sure you thoroughly research your SEF component before installing it. Sometimes links will be created differently to how you would expect. For instance, I believe that sh404SEF doesn't use menu structure to create the url. It instead uses the category structure to organise(Br.E) the way the URL is made (please correct me if I'm wrong).

  • Indexing and redirecting must indeed be considered, even if this an extra-joomla consideration. One should count costs and gain after that. May 17, 2014 at 8:24
  • 2
    This would only be an issue with turning off SEF url. Joomla can process a long url no problem even after you turn on sef URLs. Technically, you would not need to redirect anything as the links would still work. It would be smart to redirect anything that is already indexed, but not required. May 18, 2014 at 1:55
  • @BrentFriar Perhaps I've misunderstood your comment somehow or you're referring to a different SEF component. Could you elaborate on which exact point you think is not an issue? When turning on sh404SEF for the first time, a common complaint is that the old URLs don't work anymore. I've experienced this myself several times, the extension caused old URLS to 404 on me. Perhaps the problem could be attributed to misconfiguration? All I can say for sure is that if it happens to a site that is already established it can only be a bad thing.
    – TryHarder
    May 20, 2014 at 4:06
  • @BrentFriar NOTE I've edited my post- i wrote sh404SEF instead of SEF in my answer.
    – TryHarder
    May 20, 2014 at 4:07
  • @moomoochoo that makes more sense as Joomla long URLs will work no problem with built in Joomla SEF enabled. I don't use 3rd party SEF components so I can't be of much help with this issue. I would recommend using Joomla SEF. May 23, 2014 at 13:07

Yes you can activate SEF "after the fact" without problems. In most cases you need to rename htaccess.txt to .htaccess and then activate the SEF Settings in the Joomla Global Configuratoin.

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