How to Redirect Your Old Links to Your New Links After Enabling Apache’s URL Rewriting in Joomla

A new client of ours has been using Joomla for a long time (since Joomla 1.5 was introduced), but has never, ever used Apache’s URL Rewriting. She has been using Joomla’s SEF all the time, but she never enabled the Use URL Rewriting feature. She knew that enabling URL rewriting can boost the search engine rankings for her website, but she was afraid to do it for fear of “duplicate content”, and she is right. Here’s why:

A Joomla SEF link, but not a URL rewritten link, looks like the following:[.html]

The same link with URL rewriting enabled will look like the following:[.html]

As you can see, index.php/ is missing from the second link. But that’s OK, since both links work, right?

Actually wrong, this is exactly why our client (and rightly so) was hesitant to switch to URL Rewriting. She didn’t want to have two working links pointing to the same page, because if she did, her website would suffer from content duplication issue (when it comes to Google’s indexing), not to mention that the strength of the links on her website would be diluted (because, again, she would have 2 links pointing to the same page).

So, how did we solve this problem?

Fortunately, at itoctopus, we have a solution for everything Joomla, and we were able to address her problem by adding the following lines to the .htaccess file (which is located under the root directory of her Joomla website) just below the RewriteEngine On line:

RedirectMatch 301 /index.php/(.*).html /$1.html
RedirectMatch 301 /index.php/(.*) /$1.html

The above lines ensure that any link that has index.php in it will automatically redirect to the new link (that doesn’t have index.php in it). The 301 number in each line ensures that we are passing the link strength (e.g. the link juice) to the new page. Note that the .html at the end of each line should be removed if Adds Suffix to URL is disabled in Joomla’s configuration settings. (In the latter case, the second line will have no effect and must be removed because it’ll be exactly the same as the first line.)

As you can see from the above, it is extremely easy to enable Apache’s URL Rewriting on a Joomla website without losing any rankings provided you add the above 2 lines. But, if you’re one of those Joomla administrators who prefer not to touch that dreadful .htaccess file, then please contact us and we’ll do it for you! Our fees are affordable, our work is professional, and we are the friendliest programmers in the whole wide world!

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