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More on URL Structure: Dynamic URLs vs Static URLs
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Last week, Google posted about their thoughts about re-writing URLs. Previously it had been communicated to Webmasters, site owners, search marketers and the general online public that Google preferred the use of static URLs as opposed to long dynamic URLs. Now Google is telling everyone that in essence there is no need to rewrite dynamic URLs to appear static. This has caused mass confusion in the online world. First there wasd an understanding that static URLs were the way to go and now Google says that dynamic URLs are cool.

I would suggest that there is nothing wrong with rewriting your URLs if you do it properly. The fact of the matter is that while Google may now appreciate dynamic URLs, for the user or the Searcher, static URLs will ALWAYS be preferred. Static URLs are cleaner and easier to remember. Not to mention an effectively created URL can be a great indicator of the subject matter of a web page. Let's say that you sell widgets and that you have a page on how ro repair red widgets. As a searcher looking to find information about repairing red widgets, would you prefer to find a nice static appearing URL in the search results of Googleo or Yahoo or ASK?

Maybe something like:
http://www.yourwidgetsite.com/repairing-red-widgets.html vs an ugly looking dynamic URL with a long query string? http://yourwidgetssite.com/widgets/12345?lang=en/2008?id-77000561/bin_2905GY/6789_YIY

Frankly if presented with the choice, most users will click the shorter, cleaner static URL.
Google's comments about not rewriting URLs is most likely geared towards those not familiar with URL rewriting. For a novice site owner or Webmaster, URL rewriting can be tricky and if done incorrectly can make a mess of your URLs and site architecture.

So what should you do? Well let's remember one thing. As cool as Google is, they are not the Gospel when it comes to web design, site architecture and search. While they are adominant player in Search, they're not the only game in town. Communicating to the masses that "dynamic URLs are fine" and "avoid rewriting URLs..." simply because Google can handle dynamic URLs is one thing, but what about the other search engine crawlers out there? What about Yahoo or MSN Live Search or ASK or AOL?

When planning out your site architecture here are four items to consider:
  1. Think of a logical structure for your site content. Translate this into your URLs.
  2. Think of scalability - create a system where you can easily add pages (URLs) to your website.
  3. Shorter is better - shorter URLs tend to resonate better with users and searchers
  4. Static URLs will generate more click throughs - Isn't this what you want? You want your pages to rank in the search engines so that they show up in the search results for a given query. From there you want the user to click on your result over that of your competitor or any of the other results that are ranking.
So while Google has changed their stance on dynamic URLs, we would suggest that any time you have an opportunity to make your URLs static as opposed to dynamic, do it. The other search engine spiders will thank you. More importantly the Searcher will thank you.

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posted by Jody @ Saturday, October 04, 2008  
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Home: Kelowna, BC, Canada
About Me: SEO guy by day, family man 24/7.
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