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What are search engine friendly urls?

Normally each page of a Family Tree PHP website has an url that starts with ‘/index.php?a=’. For example, the url of the dashboard is ‘/index.php?a=dashboard’. As a result of this, search engines see each page as variants of the same page: ‘/index.php’. Therefore search engines will most likely only index a limited amount of your pages.

The solution is enabling search engine friendly urls. Now the ‘index.php?a=’ part of all urls is removed. The url for the dashboard now is just ‘/dashboard’ and search engines will see each page as a unique page and as a result they will index a lot more of them.

But enabling search engine friendly urls is not very simple. It is not difficult either, but you have to be very careful or you will break your site. First, you have to change the right setting on the settings page, but immediately after that you have to edit your .htaccess file. You will get instructions on that on the settings page. Follow these instructions carefully and do check whether it works, before you leave the settings page! It will only work when the Apache mod_rewrite module is enabled on your server. If this is not the case or if you have not put the right code in your .htaccess file, and you leave the settings page, you can’t reach your site anymore!

Fortunately, there is a solution when this might happen. First, remove the added code from your .htaccess file. Then download this file, extract it, put the php file in the root folder of your Family Tree PHP installation, and visit it in your browser. After that the search engine friendly urls are disabled and you can reach your site again.

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