Search Engine Friendly CMS

    September 18, 2006

A CMS (or content management system) can be a great way to manage a website of any size. One problem that a lot of these content management systems face is that they fail when it comes to meeting SEO standards.

Two areas that they tend to create problems are keywords and “search engine friendly” urls. The urls for most cms software are long and complicated, and have little to do with the actual contents of the pages.

Around the internet Joomla/Mambo (a cms) seems to be mentioned a lot as a “SEO Friendly” CMS. It has an option for search engine friendly urls, and add-on modules (that I haven’t tried) that are supposed to make the urls more related to the content. Another plus of using Joomla/Mambo is that it allows additional keywords for each separate content page.

I initially had some problems getting “search engine friendly” urls to work in the Joomla (Mambo) CMS. When I got to looking on the internet I realized that many other people had been having the exact same problems. There were a few answers out there … but it seemed a lot more questions about how to get this part of Joomla/Mambo to work. Below is a description of the issues that I encountered while setting up search engine friendly urls in Joomla, and the simple solution that I finally came to. This will probably not work for everyone, though I hope a few people looking for answers on the Internet might find this useful.

Initially, when I would change the setting under “SEO” in my Joomla CMS (which my site is run on), I would get funky errors and it would break the site. There was a little popup tooltip that said to rename htaccess.txt to .htaccess, which I made sure was done. Here is what the little popup failed to mention. Perhaps I should have known it … and I probably would have if I were more knowledgeable about this stuff.

First off, you have to make sure the .htaccess file is in the CORRECT DIRECTORY. It needs to go in the root directory of your Joomla/Mambo Installation. For example, for my site Joomla is installed under the /cms directory. So the .htaccess file has to be in this directory.

Secondly, you need to EDIT the .htaccess file to reflect the correct directory for your installation, etc. Here’s what mine looked like when it was done:

RewriteEngine On RewriteBase /cms RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d RewriteRule ^(.*) index.php

Once I had my .htaccess file edited correctly, and placed in the correct directory, it worked just fine. At this point all you have to do is select the box under the “SEO” tab in the control panel of Joomla to enable search engine friendly urls.

The above is exactly what I had to do to get this to work on my installation of Joomla. Like I said before, it might not work for everyone. I know there are some other issues that people have had but my limited experience prevents me from being able to talk about them here. Hopefully this will help a few people that are having this issue.


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Brian Vogt is a full time and freelance programmer with a number of free software products circulating the internet. Check out his software and online tools at