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Google doesn't seem to index titles in long URLs - ASP challenge

     
7:03 pm on Jun 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have several forums that use WebWiz ASP forum scripts that supposedly have SEO-friendly long URLs. At first glance, it seems very impressive. However, Google seems to be choosing the short URL version minus the title to index, and they don't index the long URL with the title in it.

Here's an example of a page URL that is on one of my forums:

http://www.one-of-my-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=9375&title=female-vocalist-looking-for-band

Google will not index that URL, but rather, they clip off everything from the "&title" on - which is basically what the page URL was before the "SEO-friendly" long URL was added. Google seems to index only this version of the URL:

http://www.one-of-my-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=9375

Now, before you start condemning me for using ASP instead of PHP, hold your fire and try to tell your opinion on these three questions:

1. Why does Google choose not to index the entire URL?

2. Does the added title actually help make the URL "SEO-friendly", or is it just a waste of time? Is there any SEO benefit at all from the title in the URL?

3. Would it be just as beneficial to skip this type of long URL altogether (since Google seems to ignore it), and simply rely on the title of the post in the page's meta title?

The reason I ask is because I am in the middle of developing an ASP project that follows the same long URL format that WebWiz is using (shown above), and if it is not going to help my users get increased SEO benefits from the long URLs, I won't waste my time adding them.

Thanks!

[edited by: tedster at 7:04 pm (utc) on Jun 20, 2010]

[edited by: tedster at 8:19 pm (utc) on Jun 20, 2010]
[edit reason] make example URLs visible [/edit]

7:25 pm on June 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I am not an expert, but I think ideally your URL would look like this:

http://www.one-of-my-forums.com/female-vocalist-looking-for-band

Maybe you can't do that, but maybe you can add /forum_posts/ in the URL to make it work. so the url might look something like this:

http://www.one-of-my-forums.com/forum_posts/female-vocalist-looking-for-band

anyway, you would have to ask your host what they can do with rewrites, since I am guessing you are hosted on a microsoft server instead of apache, and I have little knowledge of either microsoft or asp

[edited by: tedster at 8:17 pm (utc) on Jun 20, 2010]
[edit reason] make example URLs visible [/edit]

7:39 pm on June 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the input. It seems that with ASP it is more difficult to do URL rewrites for some reason (I don't know why, that's just what my programmer tells me).
7:53 pm on June 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It seems that with ASP it is more difficult to do URL rewrites for some reason


Again, I am NO expert at all, but that is what I have HEARD.

I think there is an ASP forum at webmaster world though, isn't there? maybe someone could answer that...
8:25 pm on June 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yes, for help with the technical angles, you or your developer may want to start a thread in our Microsoft IIS and ASP.NET forum [webmasterworld.com]. Just a note that a third party module, ISAPI Rewrite, can give even older IIS servers the same easy functionality that Apache users enjoy.

With regard to Google, you definitely do NOT want to have two different URLs resolving to the same content - that can create chaos with your rankings over time. And Google is most likely to choose the shortest one for display purposes.

I'd say that naming this particular implementation "SEO friendly" is more about marketing and not so much about truth.
8:43 pm on June 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Personally, I wouldn't bother with the title= string.
I have all my URLs as hnnp://www.one-of-my-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=9375
and a different title in the head of each page which shows as link in the SERPs and this has been working well for many years.

Just my 2 cents ;)
1:30 pm on June 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I'm not a programmer, but I think you could force a 301 redirect from the 'non-friendly' url to the 'friendly' url in ASP (you certainly can in PHP).

a) request comes in for short url
b) db lookup, long url is part of the data returned from db
c) serve a 301 header response to the long url
d) serve the page

Re: the advice to completely rewrite the url to be extensionless...

With bigger sites like forums, larger shopping carts etc, I think you want to keep a unique ID in the url - otherwise if you have more than one female vocalist looking for a band (to use that example) you're going to have issues.

If you don't have a dupe check built into the CMS then you risk dupe urls; if you do, you have to work out how to integrate it in a way that doesn't stop someone posting just because someone else has already started a thread with an identical title. Keeping a unique identifier means you don't need to worry about either of these.
8:42 pm on June 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Tedster said:

"I'd say that naming this particular implementation "SEO friendly" is more about marketing and not so much about truth."

I agree - that was my conclusion also.

Staffa said:

"Personally, I wouldn't bother with the title= string.
I have all my URLs as hnnp://www.one-of-my-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=9375
and a different title in the head of each page which shows as link in the SERPs and this has been working well for many years."

Again, I have to agree. Google has decided to remove the "title&=some-supposed-long-url-that-is-completely-useless" from the URL that they index, and they do not index the supposed long URL.

This means that the "SEO plugin" that came with my ASP forum software is nothing but marketing fluff.
 

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