Search Engine Friendly Blog URL’s and other word tricks

Filed as General on December 8, 2004 4:41 pm

by Duncan

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Duncan Riley> When writing a blog, particularly for the first time, the last thing many bloggers consider is the use of Search Engine Friendly (SEF) Blog URL’s. SEF Blog URL’s are an important tool for driving traffic to your blog utilising the billions of searches made each day from search engines.

What is a SEF Blog URL?
SEF URL’s are URL’s that exclude items that are unfriendly to Search Engines, for example www.yoursite.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=30 &osCsid=5156e8975ce0d4cdbb13a70f48ea797d
The theory goes that the combination of symbols such as ?, =, and & makes the URL difficult or unappealing for a search engine to index. SEF URL’s are considered to be URL’s that do not meet this criteria, but can include URL’s like http://www.findlayosborn.com/index.php?p=51, friendlier but I would argue that they are not as friendly as they could be.
What defines a SEF Blog URL is the inclusion of the title of the posting in the URL, for example in my post last week about the Politics of Blogrolls the URL for the post was

http://www.blogherald.com/2004/11/29/the-politics-of-blogrolls/

note the title of the post in the URL. For the Blog Herald I also index via reverse date order as well to allow increased search of the site under WordPress and to avoid any duplicate clashes in title, however this is not necessary for a SEF Blog URL, but likewise the utilisation of the date does not diminish the positive aspects of the inclusion of the title.

Why SEF Blog URL’s
Your site is competing to be noticed amongst millions of other blogs in the blogosphere, and the tens of millions of general websites on top of that. Clarity in your posts makes your site and its posts easier to index and therefore easier to find. Clarity is not important only in content but also in your URL. Now many will say that they’ve got lots of traffic without SEF Blog URL’s, and its all true, but blog promotion takes time and the big blogs not using SEF Blog URL’s are big due to time, links and traffic, but for new blogs starting out or for blogs attempting to build traffic SEF Blog URL’s are one component that is, dependent on the Blog software being used, easy to implement and I would argue is a must.

A deal breaker?
I would consider that the inability to create SEF Blog URL’s in a blogging tool of software is a deal breaker that would cause me to look elsewhere for my blogging needs. For example, the following is a URL from MSN Spaces
http://spaces.msn.com/members/hayley166/Blog/cns!1pOWO3yzc12qWGdZ4DwCKh-g!131.entry (found at random from their main site).
Aside from the link from the Blog Herald to the lucky 14 year old in Victoria who’s probably never heard of the Blog Herald nor is interested in the contents, this page is likely to be never found, nor are many of the similar pages on the service. In assessing blogging software I use the Blogging Software Breakdown from Asymptomatic which gives a strong guide on what’s available. Most blogging software these days provide SEF Blog URL’s in one format or another, and I do not profess to understand the difference in the ways they create the SEF Blog URL’s, although some rely on plugins whilst overs have the facility built in (WordPress for example).

Headlines for the spiders web?
Knowing that search engine spiders will be looking at your URL it can be tempting to write headlines that are considered to be appealing to search engine users. My advice, DONT. On the same token though keep relatively on topic though. Your ability to be indexed and linked is dependent on a number of factors including the URL, and the quality of your writing will be the final arbitrator as to your position on the search engines as its the quality of your writing that attracts links and interest from other bloggers that further pushes the post up the great search engine list towards position 1.

A complimentary word trick
One little trick you can also add to your blog to help with the search engines is the inclusion of your post’s heading on the top of each page. In the pre-WordPress days at the Blog Herald I would include the entire headline after the blog heading, getting something along the lines of
“The Blog Herald: more blog news more often: Search Engine Friendly Blog URL’s and other word tricks”
which is easier to do on a perl based tool such as MT as each page is created physically on the server as opposed to the majority of other blog tools which are php based and draw the content dynamically from a database without creating a physical page. Its harder but not impossible. With WordPress I could keep the main page with Blog Herald header, and I could create a post headline for each post entry, but I could not combine both.

Although originally wanting to keep the original format from the MT days, Ive found that by only having the headline at the top of the browser that the search engine results have increased by upto 5 times. At the end of the day there is no benefit in including the name of the blog in the top of the browser for a post entry as the average reader can ascertain this from the blog itself anyway, unless of course the name of your blog reflects the keywords you are seeking to obtain in the search engine (for example Unofficial Google Weblog)

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  1. Real Lawyers :: Have BlogsDecember 9, 2004 at 1:17 am
  2. By Roger Benningfield posted on December 9, 2004 at 8:32 am
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    Found by whom? By some theoretical mass audience, or by the author’s family, friends, and peers? You don’t need Google to capture the latter group’s attention, and in most cases, that’s all a blog is designed to do.

    That aside, based solely on personal observation, I’ve seen little to support the argument that “search-friendly URLs” actually make a difference. Having post titles in the HTML title seems to have a far bigger impact, as does simplified markup in the page’s body.

    Which isn’t to suggest that clean URLs are anything less than a good thing… but I’m skeptical about their significance in the context of search.

  3. By Brad posted on December 9, 2004 at 8:33 am
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    Good entry, but I have to say I disagree about not including your site name in the title.

    I definitely agree that only the topic would lead to better SEO ranking, but a lack of a title has downsides which I think you’re not addressing.

    Like for instance, if I were to bookmark this page, or open up another tab (in Firefox), “Search Engine Friendly Blog URL’s an…” doesn’t tell me where the site is from.

    Also, the fact that you have “Blog Herald” as your site name, would certainly help for SEO rankings when it came to terms like “blog.”

    So while perhaps leaving out the site name does improve SEO, there are a few disadvantages which I think people should be aware of.

    Keep up the good work.

    - Brad

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