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Friday, September 7, 2007

SEO Search Engine Optimization of Dynamic Content

If you run a shopping cart or take orders online, your site is probably database driven with a popular language like asp, or php. Your dynamic content can cause a whole plethora of problems for search engine spiders that may prevent your site from getting listed. However, if you follow a few simple guidelines listed below You can Dramatically Increase Your Website Ranking:

* All pages MUST have a unique and descriptive keyword phrase in the title!
Many dynamic scripts put the same title on every page - this is a BIG Mistake.
It's critical that every page have a unique title that is very relevant to the content on that one specific page.


* Your pages MUST NOT have an excessively long URL.
Once you are above 50 characters, the chance of top ranking declines rapidly,
and pages over 100 characters are often Completely Ignored in a search!


* Keep all your content in the Root Directory if possible.
Like this example:
domain.com/zip-codes.asp

If that is not possible, try to keep everything in top level directories, like this:
domain.com/california/zip-codes.asp

DO NOT bury your pages deep in sub directories like this:
domain.com/california/regional/northern/cities/local/sacramento/fairoaks/zip-codes.asp


* AVOID SESSION ID's whenever possible!
Search engine spiders will often ignore pages with Session ID's in the URL like this: domain.com/store.asp?ID=1625XP126.

Some spiders will not index pages with URLs that even vaguely resemble session ID's, so don't put any tracking data into the string unless absolutely necessary!

Google confirmed this problem in their Webmaster Guidelines, saying:
"Don't use "&id=" as a parameter in your URLs, as we don't include these pages in our index."

...and this quote from "GoogleGuy" in WebMasterworld:
"Sites shouldn't use "&id=" as a parameter if they want maximal Googlebot crawlage. So many sites use "&id=" with session IDs that Googlebot usually avoids urls with that parameter." Source: http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum30/29720.htm


* Reduce Variables in page URLs.
A few years ago, a "?" in the URL was a complete roadblock to spiders. Today's industrial strength spiders are getting better at crawling dynamic content, but the more variables you add, the lower your search engine ranking. (more variables = lower ranking)

Your website ranking will suffer if you have several "&" characters in the URL, like in this example:
domain.com/page.asp?Var1=abc&Var2=x&Var3=yes&Var4=y.

In fact, if any of your pages have over four variables in the URL they have almost No Chance of getting ranked at all!

The Google FAQ Page even warns you about this problem:
"The number of parameters in a URL might exclude a site from being crawled for inclusion in our main index"
For best website ranking, send only the minimum variables needed to generate a unique page.


* Don't put lots of pages on one file name, like "index.php?", or "default.asp?"
You will sabotage your ranking big-time if you have multiple pages all originating from one file like in this example:

domain.com/index.php?var=shirts&color=blue
domain.com/index.php?var=pants&color=green
domain.com/index.php?var=shorts&color=red

Instead, make sure every page originates from a unique file name, like this example:

domain.com/Blue-Shirt.php?var=Hawaiian&size=Large
domain.com/Cargo-Pants.php?var=Dockers&size=Med
domain.com/Kaki-Shorts.php?var=Polo&size=Small

...or even better yet, use a server-side rewrite to generate URLs like this:

domain.com/LargeBlueHawaiianShirt/
domain.com/MediumDockersCargoPants/
domain.com/SmallPoloKakiShorts/

THIS IS THE ULTIMATE STRING FOR RANKING!
Why? Because there are no "ID=", "?" or "&" characters in the URL, so your content seems to be "Static", and ranking is improved from the better use of the keywords.

Here's a quote from Google:

"We're able to index dynamically generated pages. However, because our web crawler could overwhelm and crash sites that serve dynamic content, we limit the number of dynamic pages we index." Source: http://www.google.com/intl/en/webmasters/guidelines.html

If You Want NO LIMITS On Your Site, and the Best Chance of Getting Listed, then don't even let spiders know your content is dynamic! Use the following instructions to give the search engines exactly what they want - Static Content. Here's How...


* How to Make Your Dynamic Content Irresistible to Spiders:
There are ways to remove variables from the string completely! You can generate pages dynamically without any "?", or "&" characters in the string. Plus you can put unique Keywords in each URL to improve your ranking even more, so this technique has a Huge Impact on Website Ranking. This is powerful stuff!

How you do this depends on what you are using in terms of a web server & scripting language.

If you are using an Apache server, a "mod_rewrite" is the most elegant solution. This allows you to rewrite domain.com/asp?foo&num=1682 on the server side, so that it appears on the web as domain.com/keyword-phrase. So regardless of the underlying technology, your pages CAN have URLs that appear to be static! To learn more, read the URL Rewriting Guide from Apache, and this excellent tutorial entitled "Search Engine Friendly URLs with mod_rewrite" by Eric Rosebrock.

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