Firstly one needs to understand the difference between static and dynamic page names (URLs) on the website.
Dynamic URLs are designed to send variables to a website page so it could perform a specific task that usually generates dynamic results. Dynamic page names contain a single question mark that separates name from variables sent. Example name "product.php?a=1&b=2" would pass variable a=2 and b=2 to "product.php" script file that would generate some response.
Such technology is very useful for web application programmers but it down-performs in search engine listings. Search engines prefer static pages that are considered to change less often over time.
To explain static URL prototype we are going to use two examples: "product.html" and "product.php".
Classic static URL example consists of name and extension. Page extension indicates technology ("html" says that page uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol) or a programming language ("php" extension indicates that page is generated on the server using PHP script).
Many consider that pages with extension other than "htm" or "html" are worth more than those with server side scripting language indicators (like PHP, ASP and others).
If you will search for search engine marketing in Google and look at URLs of first 10 web sites, you will notice that many extensions are present. This indicates that search engines don't really care about extension used as long as the page represents useful information for the reader.
User friendly URLs
Friendly page names are static URLs with no extension at all. Such URLs are very useful for users as they are easy to remember (web-design, contact, shop etc). Extension-less choice also protects page names from becoming obsolete if different web design technology is going to be used to display them in the future. Such names can be achieved by using URL rewriting technology.
URL rewriting technology
Rewrite engine is a special software component on the server that modifies domain names before they are processed by scripting language. It is used to convert dynamic URLs to static ones.
Can be changed to static page:
Rewrite engine is very helpful to maintain static URLs for complex database driven websites, where parameters have to be sent to display products. Dynamic pages are usually not cached by web browsers so by using rewrite technology one also increases overall website performance.
Apache web servers have built-in component called "mod_rewrite" which allows setting up rewrite engine by uploading RegExp (Regular Expression) rules to ".htaccess" file. For those who use Windows based servers - Free IconicIsapiRewrite plug-in can be installed to achieve rewriting.
Page names in Smooth Step CMS
Our content manager includes rewrite engine allowing successful search engine marketing and lossless website migration. If pages on your old site have rank and you'll change their names while renewing it - all hardly earned ranking will be lost. Smooth Step CMS allows setting page names with any extension. This helps to perform smooth website upgrade maintaining exact URLs from the old site.
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