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Tutorials, reviews, case studies and other tips to help website owners and website developers master the Joomla content management system.

301 redirect made easy

I have had a bit of a break producing this newsletter but now it is time to ramp things up again with another great Joomla tip. This week you will learn why search engines think you have two websites and how to correct this with a free extension.

Most websites are setup so people can access them with or without the 'www' part of the URL. For example, if you go to or, you will end up at the same place. However these are technically two unique addresses and as such a search engine doesn't know which one to index.

This can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. The more links you have pointing to a page, the more important that page appears to a search engine. But if some of those links are pointing to the 'www' version of the page and some are pointing to the 'non-WWW' version, the overall importance of the page is diluted.

It is therefore best to only have one version active and this is easy to achieve using code known as a 301 redirect. Traditionally this is done by inserting code into a file on your site called the .htaccess file. If you know how to do that then go ahead. But for many newcomers to Joomla, this can be a little daunting so here is an alternative solution:

1. Download from this page

2. Install it as you would any other extension - review lesson 12 of the free Build a Joomla Website tutorials if necessary

3. In Administrator, go to Extensions - Plugin Manager and click System - Canonicalization

4. Set Enabled to Yes

5. In the right column, next to Correct Host, enter your full web address including the www e.g.

6. Click the Check Setting link and ensure that no errors are displayed.

7. Click Save towards the top right.

8. Test your website's frontend by accessing it using your 'non-www' URL. If all is well, you will be redirected to the 'www' version.

This is a straight-forward process and worked on several websites I tested. However should it all go horribly wrong, connect to your site using FTP and rename /plugins/system/canonicalization.php.

If you like this extension, consider thanking the developer by writing a review on the Joomla Extensions Directory.

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