SEO (short for Search Engine Optimization) is the art, craft, and science of driving web traffic to websites.
Learning how to construct web sites and pages to improve "and not harm" the search engine placement of those websites and web pages has become a key component in the evolution of SEO.
In this article, we will see one of the techniques that is used commonly for improving SEO - Creating friendly URLs.
Today, most of the websites built are database driven or dynamic sites, and most of these websites pass data between pages using query strings. Search engine crawlers usually do not index the page having a question mark or any other character. If search engines do not identify a page or its content in a website, it essentially means missing web presence for that page. How can this be handled? This write-up discusses this topic with a sample website project as the implementation reference.
Friendly URLs pass information to pages without using the question mark or any other character, and these pages will be indexed by search engines, which will maximize search engine rankings for your website. Search engines prefer static URLs to dynamic URLs.
A dynamic URL is a page address that is created from the search of a database-driven website or the URL of a website that runs a script. In contrast to static URLs, in which the contents of the web page stay the same unless the changes are hard-coded into the HTML, dynamic URLs are generated from specific queries to a site's database. The dynamic page is only a template in which to display the results of the database query.
Search engines do not index dynamic URLs for the reason that it will contain non-standard characters like ?, &, %, = etc... Many times, anything after the non-standard character is omitted. For example, URLs like:
In this case, if the URL after the first non-standard character is omitted, the URL will look like:
URLs of this type will be a group of duplicate URLs for the search engine, and search engines omit duplicate URLs and will not index all your dynamic pages. A search engine indexes a URL like:
Even though nowadays search engines are optimized to index dynamic URLs, they would still prefer static URLs.
Creating SEO Friendly URLs
What if we were to implement this in our projects? Here's a method that could be used to create friendly URLs to boost your page rank.
In our example, let us try these URLs:
And our objective is to convert them to contextual URLs that resemble:
What we are going to do is that first we convert the actual URL with the query string to the contextual URL, by first getting the mapped URL name for the page from the web.config file, and combining the query string values followed by /, and finally, the item name as the page name. When this converted contextual URL is clicked and the page is navigated, the
Application_BeginRequest event in the Global.asax file rewrites the contextual URL into the actual URL with the query strings.
Let's get down in detail about how to build the application that is using friendly URLs. This application simply explains how to create SEO friendly URLs and this is just an idea about how we can rewrite URLs. You can take the idea and rewrite it in your own way.
The GetContextualURL Method
This method takes actual URL that needs to be converted into a friendly URL and the name of the page as the parameters. Here in this application, we are using the "Order.aspx?Itemid=10&Item=Apple" URL as an example that needs to be converted.
The method will be called like:
In this method, the URL's query string values are being split and formed into a new URL with the existing page Order.aspx mapped to a new page named apple.aspx, and the alias name for Order.aspx is picked from the web.config file. The newly formed URL will be "~/shop/10/Apple.aspx".
for loop in this method iterates through the
appsettings of the web.config file and finds the key for the value "order.aspx". This is for assigning an alias name for the actual order.aspx. If you want more than one page to be converted, then you should have equivalent alias name entries in the web.config file.
public string GetContextualURL(string Url,string PageName)
string DestID = string.Empty;
string DestAlias = string.Empty;
string Str = Url.Split('?').Split('=') + "/";
string DestPage = Url.Split('?');
string ItemID = Url.Split('?').Split('=').Split('&');
string NewUrl = string.Empty;
string KeyList = WebConfigurationManager.AppSettings.AllKeys;
for (int KeyCount = 0; KeyCount < KeyList.Length; KeyCount++)
DestID = WebConfigurationManager.AppSettings[KeyList[KeyCount]].Trim();
DestAlias = KeyList[KeyCount];
if (DestID.ToLower() == DestPage.Trim().ToLower())
NewUrl = "~" + DestAlias + ItemID + "/" +
PageName + ".aspx";
This event is fired whenever a request is made to the server, and so this event is the appropriate event to rewrite the contextual URL into the actual URL. In this event, we are getting the incoming URL and checking whether it is a contextual URL, and if it is so, then we are splitting the item ID and the item name from the contextual URL and creating the actual URL with the query string. This actual URL gets processed and the actual page is executed.
protected void Application_BeginRequest(object sender, EventArgs e)
HttpContext InRequest = HttpContext.Current;
string OldPath = InRequest.Request.Path.ToLower();
if (InRequest.Request.RawUrl.Split('/').Length > 3)
string Path = InRequest.Request.RawUrl.Split('/');
Path = "/" + Path + "/";
string NewPath = "/furl/" + WebConfigurationManager.AppSettings[Path];
string ItemName = InRequest.Request.RawUrl.Split('/')[
InRequest.Request.RawUrl.Split('/').Length - 1].Split('.');
string ID = InRequest.Request.RawUrl.Split('/');
InRequest.RewritePath(NewPath, "", "?id=" + ID +
"&id2=" + ItemName, true);
Page_Load event of the actual requested page, order.aspx gets the value of the item ID and the item name from the query string.
Label1.Text = Request.QueryString +", Qty "+ Request.QueryString;
To implement Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there are numerous areas to focus - page index, strategies around maximizing page rank, etc... However, for a website with dynamic content, letting the page be indexed by search engines is the primary goal and a good beginning for SEO implementation.