Dynamic URLs vs. Static URLs

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					                   Dynamic URLs vs. Static URLs

The Issue at Hand

Websites that utilize databases which can insert content into a webpage by way
of a dynamic script like PHP or JavaScript are increasingly popular. This type
of site is considered dynamic. Many websites choose dynamic content over
static content. This is because if a website has thousands of products or pages,
writing or updating each static by hand is amonumental task.

There are two types of URLs: dynamic and static. A dynamic URL is a page
address that results from the search of a database-driven web site or the URL of
a web site that runs a script. In contrast to static URLs, in which the contents of
the web page stay the same unless the changes are hard-coded into the HTML,
dynamic URLs are generated from specific queries to a site's database. The
dynamic page is basically only a template in which to display the results of the
database query. Instead of changing information in the HTML code, the data is
changed in the database.

But there is a risk when using dynamic URLs: search engines don't like them.
For those at most risk of losing search engine positioning due to dynamic URLs
are e-commerce stores, forums, sites utilizing content management systems and
blogs like Mambo or WordPress, or any other database-driven website. Many
times the URL that is generated for the content in a dynamic site looks
something like this:

A static URL on the other hand, is a URL that doesn't change, and doesn't have
variable strings. It looks like this:

Static URLs are typically ranked better in search engine results pages, and they
are indexed more quickly than dynamic URLs, if dynamic URLs get indexed at
all. Static URLs are also easier for the end-user to view and understand what the
page is about. If a user sees a URL in a search engine query that matches the
title and description, they are more likely to click on that URL than one that
doesn't make sense to them.

A search engine wants to only list pages its index that are unique. Search
engines decide to combat this issue by cutting off the URLs after a specific
number of variable strings (e.g.: ? & =).

For example, let's look at three URLs:

All three of these URLs point to three different pages. But if the search engine
purges the information after the first offending character, the question mark (?),
now all three pages look the same:

Now, you don't have unique pages, and consequently, the duplicate URLs won't
be indexed.

Another issue is that dynamic pages generally do not have any keywords in the
URL. It is very important to have keyword richURLs. Highly relevant keywords
should appear in the domain name or the page URL. This became clear in a
recent study on how the top three search engines, Google, Yahoo, and MSN,
rank websites.

The study involved taking hundreds of highly competitive keyword queries, like
travel, cars, and computer software, and comparing factors involving the top ten
results. The statistics show that of those top ten, Google has 40-50% of those
with the keyword either in the URL or the domain; Yahoo shows 60%; and
MSN has an astonishing 85%! What that means is that to these search engines,
having your keywords in your URL or domain name could mean the difference
between a top ten ranking, and a ranking far down in the results pages.
The Solution

So what can you do about this difficult problem? You certainly don't want to
have to go back and recode every single dynamic URL into a static URL. This
would be too much work for any website owner.

If you are hosted on a Linux server, then you will want to make the most of the
Apache Mod Rewrite Rule, which is gives you the ability to inconspicuously
redirect one URL to another, without the user's (or a search engine's)
knowledge. You will need to have this module installed in Apache; for more
information, you can view the documentation for this module here. This module
saves you from having to rewrite your static URLs manually.

How does this module work? When a request comes in to a server for the new
static URL, the Apache module redirects the URL internally to the old, dynamic
URL, while still looking like the new staticURL. The web server compares the
URL requested by the client with the search pattern in the individual rules.

For example, when someone requests this URL:

The server looks for and compares this static-looking URL to what information
is listed in the .htaccess file, such as:

      Rewrite Engine on RewriteRule thread-threadid-(.*)\.htm$

It then converts the static URL to the old dynamic URL that looks like this, with
no one the wiser:

You now have a URL that only will rank better in the search engines, but your
end-users can definitely understand by glancing at the URL what the page will
be about, while allowing Apache's Mod Rewrite Rule to handle to conversion
for you, and still keeping the dynamic URL.

If you are not particularly technical, you may not wish to attempt to figure out
the complex Mod Rewrite code and how to use it, or you simply may not have
the time to embark upon a new learning curve. Therefore, it would be extremely
beneficial to have something to do it for you. This URL Rewriting Tool can
definitely help you. What this tool does is implement the Mod Rewrite Rule in
your .htaccess file to secretly convert a URL to another, such as with dynamic
and static ones.

With the URL Rewriting Tool, you can opt to rewrite single pages or entire
directories. Simply enter the URL into the box, press submit, and copy and
paste the generated code into your .htaccess file on the root of your website.
You must remember to place any additional rewrite commands in your .htaccess
file for each dynamic URL you want Apache to rewrite. Now, you can give out
the static URL links on your website without having to alter all of your dynamic
URLs manually because you are letting the Mod Rewrite Rule do the
conversion for you, without JavaScript, cloaking, or any sneaky tactics.

Another thing you must remember to do is to change all of your links in your
website to the static URLs in order to avoid penalties by search engines due to
having duplicate URLs. You could even add your dynamic URLs to your
Robots Exclusion Standard File (robots.txt) to keep the search engines from
spidering the duplicate URLs. Regardless of your methods, after using the URL
Rewrite Tool, you should ideally have no links pointing to any of your old
dynamic URLs.

You have multiple reasons to utilize static URLs in your website whenever
possible. When it's not possible, and you need to keep your database-driven
content as those old dynamic URLs, you can still give end-users and search
engine a static URL to navigate, and all the while, they are still your dynamic
URLs in disguise. When a search engine engineer was asked if this method was
considered "cloaking", he responded that it indeed was not, and that in fact,
search engines prefer you do it this way. The URL Rewrite Tool not only saves
you time and energy by helping you use static URLs by converting them
transparently to your dynamic URLs, but it will also save your rankings in the
search engines.


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