Catherine "Cat" Seda

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Are Your URLs Ugly? (dynamic URLs)

Click on several of your top-level web site pages. Do any look like this:

http://www.yoursite.com/products.asp?&productsperpage=10ProductID=125&CompletedOrder=0&BasketID=0

Ewwwww. And that's not even as ugly as a URL can get.

This is an example of a dynamic URL. This is a dynamically-generated web page that is often created using Active Server Pages (.asp), Java Server Pages (.jsp), Hypertext PreProcessor (.php), Cold Fusion (.cfm) or some other technology.

An ugly dynamic page can be challenging for search engine spiders to crawl. It's a spider trap (some dynamic URLs deliver the same content over and over to spiders, or feed spiders an infinite number of URLs). Not good for improving your free rankings in the organic search results.

Assuming you need to use dynamic URLs to manage your content or products, seriously consider reducing the number of parameters in your URL to 2 or fewer (look for symbols such as =, &, $, % and $). Why 2? Because Google says so. Well, a Google rep once said 2, and later said 2 or 3. It's always better to play it safe with SEO.

Of course, if the top-ranked web pages don't have any parameters in their dynamic URLs (for example, www.competitorsite.com/products.asp), you might have to change yours to effectively compete with theirs. And this looks prettier too, right? Pretty for human visitors and search engine spiders.

There are other actions you can take for dynamic URLs. Perhaps I'll cover that in another blog post.

Sticking with this topic for now, have you ever reduced the number of parameters in your dynamic URLs and seen an improvement in your organic rankings? How fast? Can to share your "before" and after" URL here? Or have you changed from one shopping cart to another and seen an improvement in your rankings thanks to their dynamic URL structure?

2 Comments:

  • I wrote a paper that anyone finding this post interesting, may find useful:
    http://www.meadigital.com/v3/library/SEO_WhitePaper2_0106.pdf

    SEMPO has it in their library as well.

    Many times, by keeping the URL static, you can also increase clickthrough rates as the users can see and read the URL easier (sounds simple but it does have an effect).

    By Anonymous SanDiegoSEO, at 9:03 AM  

  • Yes, I've seen static URLs (www.company.com/products.html) rank better than dynamic URLs (www.company.com/products.asp). It depends on your competitors. One of my clients removed all of the parameters from her dynamic URLs but a tacky competitor's site continued to rank above her beautiful site. There were other issues as well, however, building some static content pages helped improve my client's rankings.

    By Blogger Cat Seda, at 10:04 AM  

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