By Lydia Barley
If you’re in the SEO industry, you would know of the age-old debate between static URLs and dynamic URLs. You would also know that dynamic URLs have quite a bad reputation, with many SEO specialists recommending avoiding dynamic URLs at all costs, to the point of rewriting them just for them to appear static! But is that really necessary? In this blog post we will unpack both static URLs and dynamic URLs and we will uncover the truths about dynamic URLs and why they really aren’t that bad.
What is a static web page?
A static web page is a page that contains HTML code, which defines the content and structure of the page. These pages are stored on a server. Every time a user enters the page’s URL the page will be delivered to the user exactly as it was stored.
What is a dynamic web page?
A dynamic web page is a page that contains server-side code. The server generates unique content each time the dynamic web page is loaded as opposed to having the content displayed in a static format on the page. With a dynamic web page, the content of the website is stored in the database and the content on the page is generated from information stored in the database, according to what is requested.
What is a static URL?
A static URL is the page address of a static web page. A static URL never changes and typically does not contain any URL parameters.
What is a dynamic URL?
A dynamic URL is the page address of a dynamic web page. A dynamic URL will vary depending on the results from the search of a database-driven web site.
Advantages of static URLs
- Higher click through rates (in the SERPS and emails)
- Provides users with accurate expectations of what the content on the page will be about
- Higher keyword prominence and relevancy
- Easier to remember
- Easier to write down manually and to share
- Static URLs can be indexed and crawled easily by all search engines
Disadvantages of static URLs
There are no apparent disadvantages of static URLs. However, should the process of rewriting a dynamic URL to appear like a static-looking URL be done incorrectly, users and search engines will struggle to correctly find content on your site.
Advantages of dynamic URLs
- Google can crawl and index dynamic URLs
Disadvantages of dynamic URLs
- Difficult to remember
- Difficult to write down manually and share
- Lower click through rate (in the SERPS and emails)
- Lower keyword relevance
- Users cannot form expectations of page content
Which is better for SEO?
Many people believe that static or static-looking URLS are an advantage for indexing and ranking websites. This is based on the assumption that search engines have issues with crawling and analysing dynamic URLs. However, Google announced in their Webmasters blog post that they can crawl dynamic URLS and interpret the different parameters within a URL. Google also said that providing search engines with dynamic URLs should be favoured over hiding parameters to make them static-looking.
What does Google recommend?
- Don’t reformat a dynamic URL to make it look static– Google said they may have problems crawling and ranking dynamic URLs if you attempt to make your URLs look static and end up hiding parameters which offer the Googlebot valuable information, therefore they recommend not reformatting a dynamic URL.
- Keep your URLs short – Google said that you should attempt to keep both static and dynamic URLs short.
- Remove parameters that aren’t essential – Google recommends removing parameters that aren’t essential to Googlebot, for a clean-looking dynamic URL.
- Avoid rewriting dynamic URLS at all – Google recommends avoiding rewriting dynamic URLs unless the rewrites are for removing unnecessary parameters.
So, by now you should know that there is no need to fear dynamic URLs. While they aren’t going to be your new go-to as they carry less benefits than static URLs, you don’t need to rewrite them. Should you be in a position where you have to decide between a static or a dynamic URL. Simply pick which works for your website, and if you find yourself needing to use a dynamic URL, either let it be or tidy it up.