Dynamic and static URLs: Pros and Cons

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Before everything, I want to explain what we will talk about in this article.

What the static URL is?

Static URL is URL that never changes and it doesn’t contain URL parameters. It looks like this:

http://www.example.com/archive/october.htm

You can find static URL in Google using construction: filetype:htm. For big and often updated websites (those like forums, online shops, blogs and content management systems), webmasters use dynamic URLs.

What the dynamic URL is?

If the website content is saved in the database and is displayed on pages by a request, then the dynamic URLs take place. In this case, the website consists of only the patterns for the content. Usually the dynamic URL looks like this:

http://code.google.com/p/google-checkout-php-sample-code/issues/detail?id=31

Google beliefs that URL is dynamic if it contains the signs like:?, =, &. One of the disadvantages of dynamic URL that the case of duplication of content may take place. I.e. the URL with different parameters can lead to the same content. That is one of the reasons why webmasters change these URLs into static ones.

Google recommends do not change dynamic URLs into static URLs

Google in its official sources says that webmasters have no need to change dynamic URLs into static ones, but, at the same time, Google admits that static URLs have the advantage of dynamic URLs in CTR. Then they say that dynamic URLs have privileges. Making a little conclusion of Google official article about static and dynamic URLs, I can say the next:

  • It’s quite difficult to make the right change a dynamic URL in a static URL
  • Googlebot can successfully index a dynamic URL and interpret a variety of settings
  • If you change the URL, you can deprive the Google bots valuable parameters that participate in the rankings

Opinions of webmasters about the dynamic URLs and the static URLs

In comments of the article of Google mentioned above, the webmasters express discontent citing the advantages of static URLs. However, employees of Google response that their article for webmasters and not for SEO specialists, and this post was written especially for this audience (for webmasters).  Indeed many webmasters are far from being experts in SEO and can make many errors while changing dynamic URL to static. Google is trying, on the one hand, to help webmasters, and, on the other hand, to make its search results more relevant for the users.

Rand Fishkin in his blog expresses an opinion that Google looks at the problem from another angle, as a marketing specialist. He says that Google is not deceiving or misleading, but only take care of the most important: to index effectively and efficiently the web and to keep accurate data about the pages’ content.

Advantages of Dynamic URLs

  • They are usually longer
  • Google (the first of the 4 major search engines) which said they can effectively crawl and index them

Disadvantages of dynamic URLs

  • Low CTR in SERP, in emails, and also on forums or blogs where they are cut/pasted
  • A high probability of cutting off the final part of the URL, and resulting in 404 or some other error when copying and pasting
  • Low relevance of the keywords
  • It is almost impossible to write manually and to distribute on a business card or to dictate over the phone to somebody
  • It is very difficult to remember or not remembered at all
  • The user does not know exactly what to expect before the user will reach the page
  • Not optimized for anchor text when used as the link text (which happens frequently due to copying/pasting)

Advantages of static URLs (including the opposites of the dynamic URLs)

  • High CTR in the search results, web pages, emails etc.
  • High relevance of the keywords
  • Easy copy/paste, share online and offline
  • Easy to remember and thus they can be used in branding and offline media
  • Users can intuitively know what to expect before they will reach the page
  • You can expect a good anchor text using links in URL form
  • All major search engines handle static URLs more easily than dynamic ones, especially if there are multiple parameters

Disadvantages of static URLs

  • You might make a mess during of the rewriting process, causing the problems in the content receiving by visitors and bots

Dynamic URLs will not give you a favorable opportunity for keyword ranking, usability and portability as the keyword-optimized URLs do. So worth it or not to rewrite the site to use a particular type of URLs?

Many of webmasters who want to change the URLs in their project to a different type, the site has already been successfully indexed and well ranked in the search, but also has a number of backlinks to the old URL. If you want to change the type of the URL, you need to make 301 redirect from old URLs to the new ones.

  • Dexter

    Hello, great article! Thanks! It’s very helpful for me and my friends (also optimizers).

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