Successful Internet marketing and search engine optimization involves a large-scale project that includes a number of steps, tasks, and owners. Keeping the process in check and the plan moving forward takes experience and attention to detail. One of the most common elements of the plan that can be forgotten or missed is the use of quality URL’s that are search engine friendly (SEF).
Ugly or Just Confusing?
Some may question if a given URL can be ugly, but to Google and other search engines, a URL can be as ugly as the shirt your grandmother gave you on Christmas. More importantly, designing a website with friendly URL’s is key to making a website easy for search engine spiders to read and index. They are also important to the actual website visitor, because the pages are easily remembered and shared.
Here is a classic example of SEF versus Ugly URL’s:
UGLY = web-savvy-marketing.com/cgi-bin/gen.pl?id=871&view=basic
The first URL provides little information. The second URL tells the search engine spider and visitor that the page “Search Engine Optimization” is indeed about search engine optimization and that it is a subset of the category “Internet Marketing”. Visitors and search engine spiders like to see clearly defined pages and easy to follow website structures. Such use of SEF URL’s help both a physical person and a virtual process digest the information conveyed by the website’s designers.
Flipping the SEF Switch
There is a time and a place for “flipping the switch” on SEF URL’s. Typically a new site or a complete website redesign will utilize the ugly URL’s until right before launch of the new website. This will allow the website development process to change dynamically without the need of creating the SEF URL’s or worrying about the URL’s changing as the project migrates through the build process. Good website designers will stress this caution, because large scale websites can dramatically change as the design and build process unfolds. Once the build is complete and the site is ready to launch, the migration to SEF URL’s is fast and relatively painless in mainstream open source CMS packages like Joomla or WordPress.