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Creating an SE friendly directory with human friendly URLS

6:46 pm on Jul 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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5+ Year Member

joined:July 29, 2008
votes: 0

Hello Webmasters.

This is my first post so apologies in advance if my words come across as the ramblings of a complete newbie...that's because they are.

I have spent the last couple of days reading posts on this forum and I have learnt a lot but at the same time probably have more questions now than before I started reading...

Also my questions relate to php, urls and seo but all in the context of a directory I am having built - which is why I am posting here - sorry if this is the wrong place.

OK - so I am having a directory built by developers using PHP. My directory has a 3 level taxonomy - category, subcategory and classification. I want my directory to be primarily human friendly whilst being as SE friendly as possible.

For reasons I wont go into now I am using select menu (form items) which allow users to navigate through the categories and subcategories and classifications. I read yesterday how to make these javascript menus se friendly by using NOSCRIPT Markup. I will probably also have a text link to a page listing all my categories and classifications on my homepage SEs will be able to follow that.

Q1 - would you agree that having the text link and a list of static links for categories, subcategories and classifications is a good idea? (when my main navigation is javascript) or will the NOSCRIPT markup make that unnecessary?

When a user selects a category using the category select menu it submits using a javascript function and leads them to an url that is currently like:


it does not matter which option in the select menu that the user picks, the above url does not change (although the results obviously do)

I thought it would be better if the category was reflected in the URL and my developer told me that I could have

www.example.co.uk/index.php?categoryname or www.example.co.uk/?categoryname

What I would really like is to be able to have www.example.co.uk/categoryname and my research on here so far suggests that you do this by using Mod Rewrite so

Q2 - Is this correct? Is Mod rewrite the way to do it and can someone please point me to the best thread about how to go about doing this? and If I have a lot of categories/classifications does each one need to be rewritten individually or can it be done automatically? Also would I be rewriting to example.co.uk/categoryname.html or .php? or no ending at all

Now the above example is what happens when a user chooses a category (Level 1), but I also need to know the best way to deal with drilling down further. so...

Q3 - is it better to have:
www.example.co.uk/categoryname/subcategoryname/classname or
what are the pros and cons I should be considering here?

As all my directory pages are dynamically generated, I am also confused about how google and other search engines deal with this. The data on the page www.example.com/categoryname is dynamically generated and therefore the page is basically empty until the point that data is called so

Q4 - Does googlebot etc call dynamic data in the same way that a user would and therefore will the data in the database be accessible to google? What factors should I be considering bearing in mind I want to be as SE friendly as possible and I would like my categories and classifications and directory listings listed in google etc

Finally, I have some concerns about how I sync the values in my 3 select menus with their respective text links. so..

Q5 - if a user types in www.example.co.uk/categoryname how do I get this to have the same effect as choosing the categoryname from the select menu and when the page loads, can I get the select menu to display that category name in the menu automaticaly.

Phew. Sorry for the rant and if you have read this far you already have my gratitude.

[edited by: Webwork at 7:34 pm (utc) on July 30, 2008]
[edit reason] We use "Example.com" since no one can "own" Example.com [/edit]

4:22 pm on Aug 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Feb 11, 2003
votes: 11

Here's what I do in my directory. It's likely not perfect, probably not technically correct. But my directories have never been hit with any sort of automated penalty or pagerank decrease, and the pages rank because I get the odd phone call from companies that are listed telling me they get actual business from the site. (though I don't think it's all just my directory structure).

My directory has 'types of widgets' split into 'subregion' then 'city or town.

The underlying queries are something like this:

However we do use modrewrite to rewrite the urls. Our actual links work like this:
Which modrewrite rewrites to be the full url above. It does that transparently and internally.

I'm not a directory expert, but I would suggest either using a modrewrite like that primarily for ease of use by users, not Google. My guess is dynamically generated URL's aren't a huge deal.

I think your focus should be on two things:
- custom built program, not an off the shelf script
- be very careful about who you link out to. LInk out only to top quality sites.

8:30 pm on Sept 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

New User

5+ Year Member

joined:July 6, 2008
votes: 0

-If you have listings deeper then 3 levels, SE will most likly not give them to much importance or even don't include in SERPS.
-Do not use script generated URLs, there is a great value in using keywords in your urls
-Don not use more then 50 links/page as SE can see it as link farms
Good luck Spirit with your directory