web search optimization: URL structures and usability

Understanding Website Optimization - Considering URL structures & usability
One more thing to think about as you’re choosing your domain name is how URLs will be structured as you begin to put your site together. Some URLs are very long and seem completely random. For example, take a look at any given product page URL for Amazon.com. 

If you copy and paste that URL into a document, it could be two or three lines long, and it won’t mean a thing to you after the Amazon.com part.

Considering URL structures

Ever notice how Amazon.com product pages rarely (if ever) seem to turn up in search rankings? That’s because the pages are dynamic, and a URL that exists on Amazon today may not exist there tomorrow. Dynamic URLs change.

Often. And for a variety of reasons. Sometimes dynamic URLs are used on product pages, but they can also be used when content is drawn from a database on a visitor-by-visitor basis or when visitor tracking information is included in the URL.

Typically, search crawlers can’t effectively crawl sites that have dynamic URLs because the crawler can’t trigger the dynamic URL the way a user does. One way to deal with dynamic URLs is to use a program that rewrites them.

URL rewriting is a common practice in SEO, especially since Google stated that it can’t effectively crawl dynamic URLs. Unfortunately, even URL rewriting comes with a set of drawbacks. For example, because even a rewritten dynamic URL tends to be very long, they often wrap or become two lines — in error messages or when used in blog posts or forums.

The result is sometimes an incomplete URL that can’t be followed. URL rewriting also introduces the possibility for errors, especially if the rewriting is done manually in the coding for a web page.

A better option is to use static URLs. Static URLs remain the same all the time. You can see static URLs all over the Web. Even blog posts have a temporary dynamic URL, but then once the post goes into archives, the URL becomes static and doesn’t change again. It helps to more effectively rank web pages that change temporarily and then become permanent.

Another advantage of static URLs is that, when used, these URLs can contain keywords that are meaningful not only to search crawlers, but also to the people who visit your web site. Static URLs are easier to read. They usually contain mostly words, with few numbers, and they never include randomly generated identifiers.

As you’re putting your site together, consider how it’s going to grow and how you’ll be naming the pages that you add to it. Part of that consideration is entirely site design and will be determined by the programming language that you use to create your site; but much of it involves forethought about how such matters will be handled. Discuss with your web site designer how you would like to have the URL structure handled. The designer will know how to ensure that your URLs are as usable as the rest of your site.

Again, it’s important to realize that domain naming is only one facet of SEO strategy. It won’t make or break your SEO, but it can have some effect. Therefore, take the time to think about the name you plan to register for your site and then how you plan to structure your URLs as your site grows.

If you can use a name that not only reaches your audience, but also lands you a little higher in search results and makes it easier to create useful URL structures, then by all means purchase it; but if no name really seems to work in the SEO strategy for your site, don’t get discouraged.

You can make up for any domain-naming issues by implementing solid keyword strategies, tagging strategies, and other elements of SEO. Do try to keep your URL structure simple, though, even when your domain name might not be your first choice.

Usability. It means different things to different web site designers. It’s also been at the top of every user’s requirements list since the Web became part of daily life. When users click through to your web site from a search results page, they want the site to work for them. That means they want to be able to find what they’re looking for, to navigate from place to place, and to be able to load pages quickly, without any difficulties.

Web site users are impatient. They don’t like to wait for pages to load, they don’t want to deal with Flash graphics or JavaScript, and they don’t want to be lost. These are all elements of usability  how the user navigates through and uses your web site. And yes, usability has an impact on SEO, especially from the perspective of your site links and loading times.

When a search engine crawler comes to your site, it crawls through the site looking at keywords, links, contextual clues, meta and HTML tags, and a whole host of other elements. The crawler moves from page to page, indexing what it finds for inclusion in search results, but if that crawler reaches the first page and can’t get past the fancy Flash you've created, or if it gets into the site and finds links that don’t work or that lead to unexpected locations, it will recognize this and make note of it in the indexed site data. That can damage your search engine rankings.

see also :
web search optimization 
web search optimization -Navigation and Usability


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