I found this article very helpful. At one point, after the following sentence, you invite people to contact you to learn more about the programming tweak. “This tweak is extremely common and highly recommended for anyone who has a database driven website with unfriendly URLs “

I would be interested to have any details on the programming tweak you mention.

We use database-driven URLs which only have one parameter and that we understood would not present problems to Google etc. For example domain.com/princeedward-yachts.asp?class=for-sale

Best regards,
Paul C.

My Reply:

Great question and one that I get quite often; hopefully I can lay this question to rest for many of my readers. First of all you are correct, Google and many of the top search engines would not have a problem indexing the link that you provided. In fact, I can say right now that your links will be perfectly fine for all of the search engines out there that matter in the world of traffic.

For comparison purposes, here is a BAD URL:

This would be a BETTER URL:

OR you could get away with the following URL because it only has a single variable which provides no issue for search engines to index.

The Tweak I Mentioned

The tweak I was speaking about is used to modify your dynamic URLs in order to make them appear static. Essentially this is a customization that needs to be done to a server to ensure that dynamic URL’s (where lots of “?&=” appear) look like static URLs. By creating static URLs you can be reasonably sure that the search engines will index your website deeper and in a quicker fashion.

  • Apache Servers: Mod Rewrite
    In Apache servers and it is called Mod Rewrite. Here is a link to a search engine watch forum thread discussing this.

  • Windows Servers: ISAPI Rewrites
    This is a tool especially designed for Windows IIS servers and it operates essentially the same as the Apache Mod Rewrite. More information on ISAPI Rewrite.

  • Windows: .Net Rewrite
    Ok, I am no programmer or system administrator so I am getting out of my depth here but I believe this is another tool that would work for rewriting URLs for websites using .Net (this link is definitely for techies only!)

SEO Friendly URL Guidelines

Here are a couple general rules for URL’s:

  1. Even with mod rewrite it is vital that you do not have too many subdirectories. If there are too many then the search engines may limit their indexing. See this video from Google Engineer Matt Cutts where he describes this very issue. As a general rule I would not have any more than 3 subdirectories within a URL.

  2. Use keywords within your URLs; if you see the opportunity to create a subdirectory using a keyword related the topic of that subdirectory go for it. Just ensure not to get repetitive. i.e. /Mercedes-benz-2006/Mercedes-benz/Mercedes.php. That just looks horrible and it may not go over very well with the search engines.

  3. Avoid session tagging on websites that you want to have indexed. Session tags will be applied to search engine robots just like any other person and these id’s are stop signs for search engine spiders.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

August 4, 2006

Ross Dunn is the CEO of StepForth Web Marketing Inc., a web marketing company founded in 1997 and based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. StepForth provides cutting-edge search engine optimization services that provide highly successful, targeted results for its clientele. Ross Dunn is a Certified Internet Marketing and Business Strategist (CIMBS) with a background in web design and business management. His broad Internet experience in combination with a talented staff has made StepForth a name synonymous with top results.

Search Engine Guide > Ross Dunn > What Are Good and Bad URLs and How to Fix the Bad Ones.