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SEO urls improvements
 
Nick Rigby
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Andre - 04 September 2007 05:26 AM


http://www.mystore.com/category/category_name/sub_category_name/sub_category_name/
http://www.mystore.com/category/electronics/cameras/accessories/

why do you need the first directory? it serves no purpose in terms of seo. what i would like to see is the following (as the deepest i would like to go). I would also like to ensure that all landing pages and product pages have a .html or equivalent end to them:

http://www.mystore.com/electronics/cameras/accessories.html
http://www.mystore.com/electronics/cameras/accessories/product.html

I’m no expert, but the reason I include the frst part of the url “category” is to provide a hook for the code to say “hey, we’re dealing with a category”. Without that, and as I say I’m no expert, you could end up with a whole load of logic in the code trying to work out what we’re dealing with in the URL e.g. a product, a category, a manufacturer etc, which is why I would always use the first part of the url as an identifier e.g.

www.mystore.com/product/blackberry-6100-pearl/
www.mystore.com/manufacturer/blackberry/
www.mystore.com/category/phones/

Nick.

 
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Andre
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some form of duplicate url check would be a good idea. so you can specify the url, then hit check - maybe similar to some of the ajax domain checkers out there smile

 
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Moshe
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Having just the string is not such a good idea, for many reasons, including subtle changes in names, uniqueness, different languages, etc.

We were thinking along the lines of having SEO name only as informational and arbitrary string before the real identification of the page.

Also, need to take into account other information that should be included in the url, such as category products sorting, page number, nubmer of products on page, helper information on product page url, etc.

So the final url would be something like:

http://example.com/category-name/subcategory-name/product-name/cid=12,pid=123,order=price,dir=asc,num=9

Using query string (http://example.com//category-name/subcategory-name/product-name?cid=12&pid=123&order=price&dir=asc&num=9) is also possible but would make no sense in SEO environment.

In Magento everything is ready for these URLs, and bit later we’ll have wiki available for custom implementations.

 
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Johan
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Brandon,

It is true they are not unique, this is why it would append a number to end of URL if there are duplicate entries.

Also, Wordpress serves this issue very well. If you blog once and publish your post, and then notice the URL is completely wrong. You can change it afterwards and Wordpress automatically redirects 301 the old url to the new one.

I think that must be implemented aswell so you never have broken URLs and use proper SEO compatible redirect.

Moshe,

Also, need to take into account other information that should be included in the url, such as category products sorting, page number, nubmer of products on page, helper information on product page url, etc.

But. If the URLs are permanent to a product. On what product page does category sorting, page number etc. come into play? Never right?

So a permanent URL to a product from the category would still be the same wherever it is linked to right?

However in a category it is true that it would append parameters. BUT, you can solve this by applying rel="nofollow" onto all such links and they will not be crawled.

Also, this could sink a competitors website if you create links to them using this evil trick and giving them duplicate content:

http://demo.magentocommerce.com/catalog/product/view/s/sony-ericsson-w810i/id/18/category/8/
http://demo.magentocommerce.com/catalog/product/view/s/monkey-monkey-monkey/id/18/category/8/
http://demo.magentocommerce.com/catalog/product/view/s/hello-monkey-monkey/id/18/category/8/
http://demo.magentocommerce.com/catalog/product/view/s/hi-monkey-monkey/id/18/category/8/
http://demo.magentocommerce.com/catalog/product/view/s/you-monkey-monkey/id/18/category/8/
http://demo.magentocommerce.com/catalog/product/view/s/little-monkey-monkey/id/18/category/8/
http://demo.magentocommerce.com/catalog/product/view/s/big-monkey-monkey/id/18/category/8/

A big reason not to rely on product ID and category ID’s in URL strings..

 
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Andre
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We’ve been looking forward to Magento for a while with regards to SEO, and the urls are the main thing constraining it.

I understand the need for logic / code within urls and the parameters that are passed, but in terms of products and categories, there is no need to include a static /category/ folder. I have worked on large sites where many parameters were thought to be needed within a url string (over 12 parameters) but after reworking, it was reduced to 3 parameters.

If you would have a look at http://www.immersecms.org for how they have implemented urls - you can set your urls as you wish. This is the best implementation i have found of seo accessible urls. i understand that a store can get rather large and you are worried about url duplication or content duplication, but i fear that the seo layer of this app may be the one thing holding it back.

I’m willing to put alot of time and experience into helping the developers get the SEO layer of this app right so please post comments and suggestions.

If anyone is at AdTech London in a few weeks and are actively working with Magento with regards to SEO, it might be worth meeting.

André

 
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Andre
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After re-reading Johan’s post, he has some very valid points!! Parameters are only really needed within a url when you are doing a search. as for individual products, you dont need parameters. you could in theory sit them in the root dir if you really wanted to, but for correct theming of a site, its necessary to sit them within directories.

One final note: rel="nofollow" links are a good way to keep the silo’s structured but if a site starts to get big, then it would start getting a little difficult to keep nofollowing links.

Serious consulting could and should be done in order to get this correct, as this is one of the biggest selling points for alot of wannabe store owners.

 
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Johan
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One final note: rel="nofollow" links are a good way to keep the silo’s structured but if a site starts to get big, then it would start getting a little difficult to keep nofollowing links.

Actually you only do this once in the template. The sorting links are (hopefully) only occuring once within the template system. And it will be applied across all occurrences when the links are included.

Everything in the “Shop by” box should be nofollowed actually. Index the site by using a sitemap, and links to categories which have links to products. You don’t want to index a store with 10000 filters!

Couple of other URLs that would need nofollow is: whole shop by box, checkout, my account, my wishlist, log in, any links to the cart, any clear links, sorting options, grid views.

Those pages make no value from a search engine perspective. It’s more important to pass the PageRank to real pages.

 
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Andre
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Agreed on the rel=nofollow for the pages you have suggested, however pagerank is highly overrated and doesnt equate much towards google’s algorithm and how it goes about ranking your site.

anyways, i just wanted to offer a suggestion to ensure urls in the next releases are acceptable and not more than 65 chars.

 
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markoshust
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yes, just some constructive feedback.. i much anticipated the release of magento, and once i seen the url’s i really lost interest for the time being. this is a big issue.

product names rarely change (and really should never change), so using domain.com/product/linksys-wrt54g would work great for specific products. if it does do a 301 redirect to new page automatically.

category names will sometimes change parent categories, but their specific cat name should rarely change as well. so using domain.com/category/parent/linksys-routers would work good too. you will have times which this info changes.... and it will update the url of that page. a 301 redirect should be here too. sites never stay the same.

if you are changing product and cat names all the time, there is something wrong with the way you organize and structure your data.

also, we do not need to reference a specific category OR manufacturer in the product url. a product url is for just that........... a product. not a manufacturer, not a category. you also have the option of adding a manufacturer or product name into the product url. also, the product url shouldn’t grab off of just the product name. there should be a seperate db field named “url” which you are to input the name of the url that is desired. then select whether it should be listed as a product, category, site page, or other (to notate which section/directory that page should be located in). you need this section/category for organizational purposes as well as naming conflicts. you could have a cat on your site named domain.com/linksys that explains why linksys is your manufacturer or why they are a partner, etc., while domain.com/category/linksys directly explains this is a page to list products for sale by linksys, because it is in a specific category.

im just saying i dont see the need to reference category names in product urls, product names in category urls, or etc. the content on your page can call all the manufacturer or category info it wants, but it shouldnt be in the url. this also keeps things nice and simple and easy to maintain.

 
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radiantflow
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There are some good points on here, and for me SEO URL’s are very important too.

I’ve recently spent some time trying to get SEO URL’s in other systems such as Zen Cart and Joomla/Virtuemart and have seen many ways how not to do it smile

I have also used Drupal (with the pathauto module), Wordpress and Plone which have much better URL functionality.

Plone has too rigid a structure, but what i liked about Drupal and Wordpress is you can choose the format of the url - some people want the categories / manufacturer others don’t, and different SEO experts in different markets all have different opinions on how best they should be.

They both let you choose a token system where you have a selection of variables such as category, title, tags, manufacturer that the site manager can choose the the format of them.

so it could be /[category]/[product-title] - or [manufacturer]/[product-title]. In the case of multiple categories perhaps there should be a way to pick the primary one.

Each url is then autogenerated based on the token pattern but you should then be able to override it if you want on a per product basis.

Technically i think the best way to organise it (may already be the way that Zend / Magento works) is to have a url path table where on each request it looks up the relevant path and matches it directly to a product, category or other item.

To handle changes in links. It can also contain multiple paths to each item, but one must be marked as the primary path and the others do a 301 redirect. These additional paths would be used mainly to prevent 404’s after changes but could also be used to create short easy to type urls for marketing purposes.

All this would need some good admin system to manage all these paths, and from the admin you should be able to see a searchable list of them and edit them easily.

Lots of food for thought, but i feel this area is important to get right!

Ben

 
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Golfideas.com
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I hope this gets worked out by Roy and his team, because it will be hard to use this great platform without SEO as a major component of Magento.

 
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RoyRubin
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we are following this thread closely smile

 
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Andre
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After reading the posts, alot of people have provided alot of positive, constructive feedback. Without knowing credentials, training and backgrounds with regards to SEO, it is difficult to state who is right and who is wrong. But as with all SEO work, there is no right, wrong or perfect way, there is only the least imperfect way, and dont forget, you can never have a perfect website!!

So I would like to sum up everything that we believe constitutes weight with URLs and the 4 major search engines - the big G, Yahoo, MSN and of course Ask.com, of which ALOT of ppl forget about.

1. The entire URL must not be longer than 65 characters in length
2. To be effective, the directory structure should not go deeper than 2 levels (3 at a push) from the root if your page has importance with regards to the overall information on your site. (mydomain.com/folder1/folder2/page.html this is as far down as i would ever want to see!!! - if you cant keep urls within this amount of folders, you better get back to the planning phase of your site’s structure)
3. All landing pages should end with a suffix - whether it is html, php, asp, aspx and should not just be a folder
4. Contain relevant keywords within the folders (e.g. if i had some fcs fins for my surfboard for sale i would want them here: mydomain.com/surfboards/fins/fcs.html

what i would like to see is the ability, as suggested by someone earlier, to enter your own url for each folder and then for each page within the folder. so when i add a new product category, it should ask me for that part of the url (i would then enter surfboards for the surfboards sub-directory), then when i add the second sub-directory (fins, and add the fins keyword to the URL in the admin), then add the product and it should ask me for the url for that section (i would enter fcs.html in this part).

I hope this helps clarify things for people. We are eagerly looking forward to the next release of magento, and once again, many thanks to Roy and the team for producing a very promising system so far.

André

 
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Johan
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3. All landing pages should end with a suffix - whether it is html, php, asp, aspx and should not just be a folder

This is pure speculation (as everything with SEO). I’ve yet to see a blog using Wordpress that ends in anything but / and they are one of the best platforms to rank organically. I think it should be custom and people can use whatever they feel floats their boat. Just like WP where you can specify your favorite URL scheme.

With such a method everyone can specify if they want the product url to be based on the category, the manufacturer or anything else. It’s all we need! Maybe make some presets for newbies to choose from until they learn how to use variables like WP.

When you enter a category or product name it should generate the url automatically based on that title if the custom URL box is left empty (which I think it already does).

Something I think that will be REALLY useful: SYMLINKS

Lets say you have two categories containing the exact same thing. Instead of making yet another category in a parent category you make a symlink and it will have the same contents as the symlinked category. Pretty much like how UNIX symlinks work. You can work this out by either showing the exact same products, or redirecting the symlink using 301 to the real category.

 
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lopsta.com
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well, i’m kind of full time involved in seo and i have to say that url are important, but it is just a small factor compared to the whole seo complex.
it’s important to have the important keyword in the url which should be in the product name.
so if possible i would prefer to have http://www.website.com/manufacturer/productname.html

Manufacturer and brands always have high search volumes, so this will be an advantage to cover it up.
but to be honest i wouldn’t spend too much time on this right now.

MORE Important:

Make sure every page is accesible just by ONE url.
Lot of ecommerce solutions have the problem to have multiple urls pointing to the same page that will create dublicate content.

 
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