Search engine friendly URLs

Online Product Catalogue: eCommerce Guide

You may well have noticed that some web pages have hideously long addresses with strings of numbers, punctuation marks and other unintelligible text tacked onto the end of the URL. These enigmatic addresses, known as dynamic URLs, are a common and convenient way for an eCommerce site to serve up web pages based on each visitor’s individual query.

But just in the same way they are difficult for us to read and understand, exactly the same applies to search engines. In fact, until recently search engines were not even able to index pages with dynamic URLs and therefore couldn’t display them in their search results pages.

By contrast with dynamic URLs, static URLs are fixed and do not contain long strings of parameters:

Type of URLExample

As search engines become increasingly sophisticated they are getting better at handling dynamic URLs. Nevertheless, static URLs are known to offer many advantages, as they:

  • tend to rank better in search engine results
  • are crawled more quickly by search engine spiders
  • are friendlier and more meaningful to end users
  • look more trustworthy and so encourage better click-through rates

Dynamic URLs also make it more difficult to switch to new and more advanced website development languages. This is because different types of scripting languages produce different types of URL strings. With static addresses your URLs needn’t change if you want to improve your site by incorporating the latest web development technologies – thereby saving you time and money in the long run.

What you need to consider

An eCommerce site that is as transparent to search engines as possible will perform better in the natural search engine rankings. And that means using search engine friendly static URLs wherever possible.

Make sure your chosen eCommerce web designer is economical with its use of dynamic URLs and only uses them in applications where it is more practical and makes sense to do so.

What exactly is a URL?

URL is simply the correct technical term to describe what most people refer to as the Internet address of a website or web page.

It stands for Uniform Resource Locator and is used by technical people to make the distinction between the easily understandable address, such as or, that we know and see in our browser’s address bar and the real underlying IP address of a website, which is represented by a long and difficult-to-understand string of numbers.