Thursday, August 4, 2011

Truth About Making Dynamic URLs to Static URLs

When a site’s content is called from a database, its URLs are normally generated. You can tell if a URL is dynamic because it’ll have characters like “?”, “=” and “&” in it. This is typical of sites that utilize a Content Management System (CMS) - including blogs. Example:

Static URLs, on the other hand, are tied to their content, and are generally a combination of the page’s filename and directory location. Example:

The 3 main problems with dynamic URLs are:
  1. They can lead to duplicate content issues.
  2. Search engines can have trouble reading them properly
  3. They reduce click-thrus from search engine results, they’re harder to remember, share and write down, they’re easily clipped, they’re often not keyword rich, and they often don’t give readers any clue about what to expect at the destination site.
These issues can be overcome by rewriting your dynamic URLs in such a way that they become static. For example, the following dynamic URL:

Could be rewritten to become the following static URL:

Unfortunately, static URL rewriting is not without risks of its own. If done incorrectly, it can cause Google problems crawling and indexing your pages. Google now outrightly advocates dynamic URLs:
Providing search engines with dynamic URLs should be favored over hiding parameters to make them look static.Of course, it’s important to remember that Google’s a public company, answerable to shareholders. It’s ability to crawl and index dynamic URLs better than its competitors is a significant competitive advantage, if leveraged. My advice is, if you’re using a CMS that doesn’t offer trustworthy dynamic URL rewriting, stick with dynamic URLs. If, however, your CMS rewrites dynamic URLs very well (e.g. WordPress or any CMS using mod_rewrite), then consider rewriting to static URLs - if it will help your customers and aid your promotions significantly. Rewriting dynamic URLs isn’t likely to have a huge impact on your rankings, so I would avoid it unless I was sure it wasn’t going to cause problems.

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