Updating URLs for Better SEO

Updating your website’s URLs to Maximize your Search Engine Performance

According to Google’s SEO guidelines, the URLs of your webpages are an important factor in overall ranking of your website.  But what if your website has already been developed with a bad URL structure? This article will guide you through the process of  updating your website to a proper URL structure, without losing the existing Page Rank that your pages have already earned.

Why Update Your URLs?

Updating your URL’s to a proper structure will give you an edge your search engine ranking, ultimately driving more traffic to your website.  Proper URL’s are also more secure because when parameters are used to generate a page, there is always a chance of an injection attack. Finally, SEO friendly URL’s are also human friendly. So your visitors will have a better navigating experience on your website after you make the upgrade.

TIP: The longer you keep your website up with bad URLs, the more links you will harness pointing to these ugly addresses. The sooner you make the upgrade the better off your website will be.

SEO Friendly URL’s

A Search Engine Friendly URL is an address that is easily indexed by search engines by giving spiders and web crawlers a static and descriptive resource that can be confidently indexed. On the other hand, an ugly url is riddled with meaningless characters, ids and querystring parameters that don’t serve to help index the resource.

Google recommends against using dynamic URL’s like this:

http://www.innovations.tv/index.php?page_id=33

Instead, Google recommendeds that your URL’s take a static form:

http://www.innovations.tv/urls-for-seo/

You can still pass some parameters to the page in the querystring as long as you avoid using the same url with a variable parameter define multiple pages on your site

URL Rewriters

A URL rewriter is a software tool that is runs on your web server within your web application framework that changes a requested URL into another string before the request is processed by the web server.  URL Rewriters allow you to process a request for a URL as though it were requested as a different page.

WIth a rewriter, you can forward requests for

www.innovations.tv/urls-for-seo/

to the resource returned by

www.innovations.tv/index.php?page_id=30

With a rewriter you can define a set of rules that will automate the entire rewriting of your Website’s URLs.

Proper 301 Redirects

The Problem with changing the addresses of the pages of your website is that this move could cost you any page rank those pages have already received. After all, there may be some good backlinks to those pages that you dont want to lose.

To maintain your Google ranking while making a URL upgrade to your site, you will have to replace the resources of original bad URLs with a 301 redirect server response that redirects the request to the new friendly URL with a “resource moved” response header.

Making This presents a problem because if you change what the original Url resource does, then the redirect will also change, so you will end up with a redirect loop. To prevent this you will have to write a condition in your processing logic that will determine weather the redirect has already been done.

Fixing URL’s in a PHP website

In PHP running on an Apache server, you can use mod_rewrite tool. You will have to open your .htaccess and add the following line:

RewriteEngine on

You can then add rewrite rules. Rewrite rules are essentially regular expressions.

RewriteRule ^page/([^/\.]+)/?$ index.php?page=$1 [L]

Fixing URL’s in an ASP.NET Application

In ASP.NET,  you can use HttpContext.RewritePath() method that ASP.NET provides.  This method allows you to dynamically rewrite the processing path of an incoming URL, and for ASP.NET to then continue executing the request using the newly re-written path.

void Application_BeginRequest(object sender, EventArgs e) {
  string sourcePath Request.Url.ToString();

if (sourcePath.Contains(“/Products/Books.aspx”)) {
Context.RewritePath(
“/Products.aspx?Category=Books”);
}
  else if (sourcePath.Contains(“/Products/DVDs.aspx”))   {
Context.RewritePath(
“/Products.aspx?Category=DVDs”);
}

Third Party URL Rewriter Components

Links:

http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2007/02/26/tip-trick-url-rewriting-with-asp-net.aspx

Fixing URL’s in a WordPress Installation

If your website was built in WordPress then you can easily fix your URL structure by going in the admin back end.  Simply log in, then click Permalinks under Settings. You will then be presented with a list of options for your site’s URL structure. You can also use a custom URL structure.

Unfortunately WordPress does not have a built in feature for managing 301 Redirects so you will have to use a custom plugin to preserve your previous URL’s Page Rank.


Contact Innvations.TV to help with your SEO Friendly Urls

 

Posted in Development, Innovations, SEO

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