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Search engine friendly (SEF), human-readable or clean URLs are URLs that make sense to both humans and search engines because they explain the path to the particular page they point to.

SEF

Search engine friendly (SEF), human-readable or clean URLs are URLs that make sense to both humans and search engines because they explain the path to the particular page they point to. Since version 1.5, Joomla! is capable of creating and parsing URLs in any format, including SEF URLs. This does not depend on URL rewriting executed by the web server, so it works even if Joomla! runs a server other than Apache with the mod_rewrite module. The SEF URLs follow a certain fixed pattern, but the user can define a short descriptive text (alias) for each segment of the URL.

How to use SEF in Joomla

By default, SEF urls are enabled in Joomla upon installation. The setting can be found in Global Configuration under SEO Settings.

When disabled, a Joomla URL might look like this:
http://www.example.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1:welcome-to-joomla&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=50

This is how the same URL looks when SEF is enabled in Joomla:
http://www.example.com/the-­news/1­-latest-­news/1-­welcome-­to­-joomla

(Note that in order to remove index.php from the URL, the setting Use URL rewriting has to be enabled, AND the file htaccess.txt has to be renamed to .htaccess on Apache servers (on IIS7 servers, rename web.config.txt to web.config).

NOTE: Even the tiniest error in .htaccess will disable your entire site. Be careful when editing this file.

3rd party tools

Several SEF tools can be found in the Joomla Extensions Directory, both free and paid, with additional configuration options.

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