Writing decent URLs

Site URLs are important for a number of reasons. The leading Blogging programs and content management systems produce well structured URLs, and this should be a key decision in designing your site.

Get indexed

Many search engines are unable to deal with dynamic URLs, that is a URL containing a question mark or an ampersand.
bad
http://www.example.com?productid=658&categoryid=73


Google is a bit of a dark horse on this matter - I have found that ugly dynamic URLs are fine with google, if your site already ranks well. For everybody else, it makes getting properly indexed a slow process indeed. Microsoft's site is a classic example of a good site with bad URLs that gets well indexed anyway.

All about the visitor

Back in the days of static HTML websites, we used to organise our HTML files into folders, based on a logical structure. If the site had a news section, you might expect to find this month's news under /news/2006/february.html.
With the advent of dynamic content, these conventions have disappeared, but they are slowly sneaking back in.
Visitors are reassured by the URL that the content on the page is what they are expecting. Many visitors watch the status bar and use the URL to decide if they should click on the link. /news/2006/february.html is more useful to the visitor than /index.php?id=325.

Include those keywords

It's important to use your targeted keywords in the title tag, heading tags, meta tags, and page body content. If it's no extra effort, they should also be included in the URL. Nobody can say for sure whether this is a factor in Google's algorithm or not, but top ranking pages do seem to have a habit of including keywords in the domain name or page URL. Even if it's not a factor for Google, it is almost certainly a factor for some of the smaller search engines.

Writing decent URLs

Dashes, not underscores, and definitely not spaces

Words should be seperated by dashes as opposed to underscores. People smarter then I have concluded that this yields the best results in google. Don't believe everything you read, but I'm sticking with dashes until I can prove otherwise.
Spaces are a very bad idea - ofteh a space will be represented in search results encoded as %20 which makes your URL look ugly. Also, spaces cause trouble with some older browsers, I seem to recall Netscape had issues with these early on.

bad
http://www.domain.com/my page.html
http://www.domain.com/mypage.html
http://www.domain.com/my_page.html
good
http://www.domain.com/my-page.html

No spam please

Many SEOs recommend you should limit the number of words in your page URL to 4 or 5, seperated by dashes. I'm reasonably sure Google would think the URL below is spam.
mortgages-and-loans-and-viagra-university-diplomas-online-casino-nigerian-banker.htm

Lowercase please

Not all webservers are case-insensitive. For the vast majority of sites that are hosted on the Linux platform, upper case characters can make a difference. Keep it simple and stick with lower case, as some people will be typing your URLs by hand.

Hide the technology you use

Good site structure dictates that you should not disclose the technology used in your URL. When your homepage is available at default.asp people are able to guess at how your site is made. This isn't a huge problem, but when you decide to rewrite your site in PHP (go on, you know you want to) then you need to rename all your URLs from .asp to .php
The exception to this rule is .htm or .html pages, which could have been created by any web language.
Another bonus of hiding the technology is that it makes hacking your site a little more difficult. If you use CMS or forum software on your site, it's not a good idea to publish the name and version number at the bottom of the page - when an exploit is found, it's very easy to google for software name version 1.3.4.
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Tags: seourlseo url