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How Semantic URL Structure Improves SEO

This is an interesting time to be responsible for your organization's web presence. You've probably heard that marketing is becoming more accountable for business growth from websites, applications and all kinds of digital programs.

This expectation to deliver online has led to big changes in user experience (UX). More sites and media are personalized for people using different devices, linking from various social sites, what ads they viewed, what searches they've done, and any other parameter imaginable. There are also more interactive websites, granular online shopping choices, and enterprises using unique web experiences based on personas.

As you might expect, this means a huge rise in dynamic URLs.

When you use the web to shop for books, stream music, pay the bills, or read articles, it's more likely you'll see a dynamic URL full of characters like "=" and "&" as well as codes. A search for Harry Potter books, for example, yields something like: https://www.bookstore.com/shopping/products?q=harry+potter+books&biw=2141&bih=1058&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.&bvm=bv.88528373,d.eXY&ion=1&tch=1&ech=1&psi=jMcKVaD3GdL.

You think "Should I click that link with the weird characters?", and millions of web users wonder the same thing.

As a webmaster, you might wonder how such dynamic links affect your search engine optimization, or SEO. Not to worry; search engines already know how to deal with dynamic URLs. Google has claimed since 2008 that its search algorithms are capable of accurately listing dynamic URLs, and are very, very good at understanding which parameters within a dynamic URL are necessary.

But webmasters still prefer static URLs for other reasons. What if the link above read http://www.bookstore.com/shopping/products/harry-potter-paperback-boxed-set-books? Makes more sense, right? This is why many webmasters manually rewrite their dynamic database queries to appear more like a static URL.
,br> Introducing the Semantic URL.

A semantic URL is still a dynamically-generated URL, but it looks more human, making it clear for a viewer to read and understand. This can result in:

The semantic URL is clear to readers, creating a more accurate user expectation and a better user experience. Beyond that, dynamic URL rewrites do not require 301 redirects, do not create duplicate content, can use any language, and you can still use root pages with canonical tags. All of these factors can boost SEO.

Basically, the easier the URL is to remember, the better it is for organic search. But in the case of a globally-distributed network, you can imagine that replicating all these rewrites must be time-consuming and logistically terrifying. Instead of getting mired in this kind of nightmare, what if you could quickly forward rewritten dynamic URLs to servers nearer your audience?

That's why Akamai offers the Forward Rewrite Cloudlet. Cloudlets are extensions to the Akamai Luna Control Center that help site administrators manage their global web presence in a way that improves website performance and makes life easier. The Forward Rewrite Cloudlet sends rewritten dynamic site searches using clear, semantic URLs to content servers nearer to readers, based on parameters set by the site administrator.

Web experts say that you shouldn't spend too much effort making website changes just for the purpose of search engine optimization. I completely disagree! But I also believe that if you can drastically improve your site's searchability without that ton of effort, drop everything and take a look.

Learn more about Akamai's Forward Rewrite Cloudlet.

Tom Bishop is a Search Optimization Manager for Akamai.

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