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URL Re-writing Best-Practice


A while back, I wrote this article about how Google recommended NOT using URL re-writing.

The Google article provoked a lot of debate and certainly managed to infuriate a lot of SEO experts.

Google's advice seemed pretty conclusive after that: don't use URL re-writing. However, Google released their updated SEO guide later, and the waters muddied. Page 8 had the following on URLs:

If your URL contains relevant words, this provides users and search engines with more information about the page than an ID or oddly named parameter would

Now this isn't directly saying that Google indexes the words in URLs. The example is showing the URL being displayed in search results for a user to see, so it might be misconstrued. It does however re-open the argument on whether we should add keywords in URLs for SEO, and that inevitably leads to URL re-writing.

I've a number of greenfield projects starting soon, and I've been mulling over whether to use re-writing again. The unresolved issue of Google indexing words in URLs will obviously play an important role in any decision, but the usability argument is possibly more strong. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of research or best-practices, so I've written this article to start a discussion on it.

As I'll explain below, I'd like things to be as evidence-based as possible, with links to relevant authorities. Most of the tips are my own thoughts on the matter, but I've tried to back them up with reasoning.

I welcome comments with evidence or reasoning, whether they back up or argue against what I've written. That way, we can put together a strong set of guidelines which will hopefully benefit everyone.


Turn SELECTs into Comboboxes with jQuery UI Autocomplete

This entry is about a script I've written using jQuery, that turns ordinary html select elements into comboboxes. You don't need to re-write any of your code, and users without JavaScript will still have fully functioning select boxes.


Are SES URLs evil?

I was reading a recent article in .NET magazine about optimising Flash sites for Google. When I got to the box on Friendly URLs, I thought it ironic that they were perpetuating another web design myth. After all, their recent June issue had been dedicated to myth busting, and SES URLs are the biggest myth out there?

Checking back however, I realised that even .NET magazine are still taken in …


Book Review: Regular Expressions in 10 minutes

Regular expressions have always been a bit of a mystery to me. I knew they were very powerful, but they've never been very intuitive. In the past, I've been fortunate to work with developers who could build them for me. I also have the book Regular Expression Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach, and as a last resort, I've used

Eventually, I realised that I needed to learn Regex properly, so I bought Regular Expressions in 10 minutes by Ben Forta


IE8 goes mainstream

This week, one of my machines installed Internet Explorer 8 via Windows Update. Unless Microsoft have put me into a trial group without me realising, it seems that IE8 is now a reality.


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Rounding image corners in CF8

I'm currently working on a site where the staff can upload images for display. Part of the design requirement, is that the corners of these images are rounded off. Step forward coldfuson 8...

Image support in coldfusion was long overdue. Although there were some very good 3rd party components (such as the Alagad Image Component), there should have been something bundled with coldfusion many versions ago. Coldfusion 8 comes with the new <cfimage> tag and dozens of image manipulation and drawing functions. So drawing rounded corners should be easy?


Google Chrome - First Thoughts

I've been using Google Chrome for a few days now.

First experiences have been quite good:

  • It hasn't crashed on me yet.
  • Flash ads on yahoo mail don't max out the processor
  • I really like the homepage thing that shows snapshots of your most popular pages.
  • The added functionality in the address bar is powerful, yet intuitive.
  • I haven't found any rendering problems with existing sites yet.

I remain to be convinced on the skin, although I'd imagine plugins will start appearing soon for it. I also missed the homepage button until I realised it was an option you had to turn on.

The big downside though is the lack of a 'print preview' facility. Until Google add this feature, I'll still be using other browsers.

Overall though, I've been quietly impressed. If only Microsoft would give up on Internet explorer and concede to the other browsers. I'd be a happier developer then :)

Book Review: Lucene In Action

I first heard about Lucene a few years ago, as it's used to power the search functionality in BlueDragon. Although that makes it sound like an open-source version of the Verity Search Engine software, it is so much more. I've been using Lucene on my current project and have turned into a big fan. I bought the book Lucene In Action to help, and I've been equally impressed with the book.


Book Review: Java Phrasebook

I've recently been using a Java for a project, which I hope to blog about later. I haven't done any Java development since version 1.2 back in 2002, so I had a a bit of catching up to do. I also needed to update my library with some Java material.


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