Do You Need To Use URL Rewriting?

Google have just updated their guidelines in regards to rewriting URLs.

Previously, the guideline stated:

"Don't use "&id=" as a parameter in your URLs, as we don't include these pages in our index"

Google have now removed this guideline, saying they can now index URLs that contain that parameter. Google have also posted a blog entry explaining the difference between dynamic URL's and static URL's, and encourage you to let Google handle the problem.

Should You Avoid Rewriting Dynamic URLs?

In most cases, yes. The translation can be messy, and if not handled correctly can lead to indexing problems.

However, for SEO purposes you might want to consider the following points.

Sometimes Static URLs Do Make For Better SEO

  • The URLs look nicer and will likely get clicked on more often
  • The URLs will provide better anchor text if people use the URLs as the link anchor text
  • If you later change CMS programs having core clean URLs associated with content make it easier to mesh that content with the new CMS
    the benefit Google espouses for dynamic URLs (Googlebot being able to stab more random search attempts into a search box) is only beneficial if your site structure is poor and/or you have way more pagerank than content (like a wikipedia or techcrunch)
Published: September 23, 2008 by A Reader in google


September 24, 2008 - 5:32am

Google's post is trying to clarify the URL static/dynamic issue. From what I understand, their telling less than savvy webmasters to think before they act when creating URL rewrites in hopes of indexing more pages. From a marketing point of view, dynamic pages don't look good on off-line marketing material and can open up security vulnerabilities on your website - plus static URL's are easier to remember and link at!

I just wrote a blog post on this topic with some extra info not mentioned here:

September 24, 2008 - 6:43am

I agree that this seems aimed at 'less savvy' webmasters. Shame they didn't say so.

Another reason to rewrite is you are then able to remove one more footprint of the package you may be using, reducing (never removing!) the chances of attack.

September 24, 2008 - 12:24pm

its good that G has removed this guideline

sometimes its better to leave the url as-is

for me
is better than

especially if you share the url when speaking to a person, which is easier to remember than the seo friendly url.

but in most cases, my ideal rule is to manually rewrite the url to as short as possible

instead of
it could be written as short as


September 24, 2008 - 4:23pm

Check the date on that Google blog post. It's October 25, 2006. It made me do a double take when I saw this as recent news and had to check out the link. I've been cautious of shortening links for a long time as I see little benefit of going to the effort of doing it correctly only to see little gain. Often there are better things to do with that time....your mileage may vary.

September 24, 2008 - 4:37pm

Here is the updated post that perhaps you meant to include in the article.... "Dynamic URLs vs. static URLs".

September 25, 2008 - 2:23am

Thanks picturesqueweb - I missed the date on that post. Corrected.

September 27, 2008 - 2:53pm

I was just checking out the Google blog article (Dynamic URLs vs. static URLs) and was looking through the comments and see that having URL rewrite for those that know what they are doing is still a relevant thing.

Here is one of the comments I pulled from John Mueller:

"While you may be able to create high-quality URLs like that, the average webmaster often is not able to do so. We see too many examples of webmasters shooting themselves in the foot by installing some so-called "SEF/SEO-Module" on their site, which makes algorithimcally understanding a website close to impossible. If we are to give a general recommendation, we would have to say that it is better to stick with dynamic URLs."

So URL write is still useful to those of use that know what we are doing. Plus a cleaner URL will preform better in other search engines.

August 14, 2009 - 2:44pm

Is the consensus still that it is better to use file names with hyphens rather than underscores?

August 15, 2009 - 2:23pm


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