Enabling Search Engine Friendly (SEF) URLs on Nginx

From Joomla! Documentation

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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. 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.

Internally, the local part of a SEF URL (the part after the domain name) is called a route. Creating and processing SEF URLs is therefore referred to as routing, and the relevant code is called a router.

This article addresses SEF URLs under the popular, open-source Nginx webserver.

Joomla 2.5 Since Joomla! 2.5, basic SEF URLs are enabled by default. Joomla 1.5 In prior versions you need to use the Global Configuration to enable them. The instructions below still apply if you want to use Apache's mod_rewrite/URL rewriting.

  • Please add this code to your server (vhost) configuration in the nginx.conf file:
   # Support Clean (aka Search Engine Friendly) URLs
   location / {
      try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$args;
  • If the above does not work, add this code to your server configuration in the nginx.conf file: (This worked with nginx 1.4.6 on Ubuntu.)
server {
  location / {
     expires 1d;

     # Enable joomla SEF URL's inside Nginx
     try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$args;
  • Log on to your Backend and open the Global Configuration.
  • Enable the Search Engine Friendly URLs option and Save. This option converts the URLs from the native Joomla! format to the SEF format.
    Verify that your site works correctly. Your URLs should now look like https://www.example.com/index.php/the-­news/1-­latest­-news/1­-welcome­-to­-joomla.
    If your site does not work correctly, please see Why does your site get messed up when you turn on SEF (Search Engine Friendly URLs)?
  • Enable the Use Apache mod_rewrite/URL rewriting option and Save. This option uses the Apache mod_rewrite function to eliminate the index.php portion of the URL
    Verify that your site works correctly. Your URLs should now look like https://www.example.com/the-­news/1­-latest-­news/1-­welcome-­to­-joomla.
    If this option causes errors, please see Common problems when enabling Search Engine Friendly (SEF) URLs.
    If it is not enabled and you have access to the file apache/conf/httpd.conf, open that file and verify that the line LoadModule rewrite_module modules/mod_rewrite.so is uncommented. If necessary, uncomment the line and restart the Apache web server.
    If mod_rewrite cannot be enabled, leave this option off. It does not matter if you leave the .htaccess file renamed.
  • If you think this is necessary, enable Add suffix to URLs and Save. This option adds .html to the end of URLs. There are different opinions on whether this is necessary or even useful. Search engines do not seem to care if your URLs end in .html or not.
  • Open the Plugin Manager and enable the System - SEF plugin. This plugin adds SEF support to links in your Joomla articles. It operates directly on the HTML and does not require a special tag.