Working in Joomla SEO and browsing the forums, there is one question I hear more frequently than any other:
"What is the best URL setup for Joomla and why?"
Reading around, I haven’t been able to find a clear answer currently available. So to resolve this question, this will be "Joomla URL Week" here at Alledia.
Each day we’re going to break down one of the five most common URL setups with Joomla:
- Weekend: Default Joomla URLs
- Monday: Default Joomla SEF URLs
- Tuesday: Review of Artio SEF
- Wednesday: Review of Open SEF
- Thursday: Review of SEF Advance
- Friday: Conclusions
Today, we take you through the default Joomla URLs and help you to understand why they are the way they are.
What Do the URLs Look Like?
How Do I Set Up This Option?
Just install Joomla. These URLs are produced automatically.
Files Used in the Joomla URL
The first part of all default Joomla URLs is the file through which the page is loaded:
All regular requests for Joomla frontend pages go through here and will appear in the URL.
Using this in the URL removes the template from the page so it is utilized for pop-ups such as the PDF and email pages.
Variables Used in the Joomla URL
The second, longer part of URL is not related to a file, but instead mainly uses information stored in the database. It uses "variables" (because they change depending on the situation) to create each page that the user wants:
- This is the name of the component currently being loaded by Joomla.
- Examples are option=com_content, option=com_search, option=com_contact
- These are stored in the #_components table in the "links" field.
- This is used to decide how a component should operate.
- Examples with the Content component include:
- task=view which is used to produce regular content items and print pages. There is no difference between the URLs for static content and regular content pages.
- task=email which produces the Email pop up.
- task=section which produces a table
- task=blogsection which shows the articles in a section in blog format
- task=blogcategory which shows the articles in a category in blog format
- This variable is only used by Content component and it is how Joomla knows which content item to show. Change the number and you change the page being displayed.
- Examples are simple: id=1, id=2, id=3 and so on.
- Content items are identified by their id in the #_content table.
- The Itemid is used to decide which templates and modules are going to appear on each page. The Itemid is added to the URL by the menu link that you use to reach that page. So if the menu link has an Itemid of 7, that will be the Itemid of all pages until you click another menu link.
- The Itemid is a pain in the butt! It isn’t necessary to make a Joomla page work and it often doesn’t work with many 3rd-party plugins.
- An example is Itemid=6.
- Itemids come from the id column in the #_menu table.
- Read more about Joomla Itemids here.
This is not a complete list of variables that might appear in the URL, but they are the most common. Almost every component adds its own tasks for what it needs to do.
- Its easy.
- The URLs are meaningless to a visitor and hard to remember. They are also useless to search engine who can’t extract any meaningful information from them.
- URLs that include a ? are less trusted by Google. This is because pages with a ? can be used to deliver different pages to different customers. For example, a site might deliver a keyword-rich spam page to search engines but an ordinary page to visitors. Google prefers pages with static URLs and relatively unchanging content.
- Because the Itemids are not hidden, it is possible to have an infinite number of URLs pointing to the same content. This is a nightmare when it comes to Duplicate Content. All of these URLs would be valid:
- index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5&Itemid=5 etc.
When Should You Use This Option?
Never. Its as simple as that.
In addition to the search engine ranking disadvantages outlined above, consider your poor users. The default Joomla URLs we’ve talked about are confusing, difficult to remember and difficult to type.
Even when you don’t have mod_rewrite on your server and can’t get it installed, there is a great hack posted on the Joomla forums that enables you to create SEF URLs. I have yet to see a server set-up where its either particularly difficult or even impossible to create better URLs than this.
Keep reading, because over the next few days we’ll discuss better alternatives that can increase your site’s popularity with visitors and search engines.