Are SEF URLs really worth it?

Grant Petersen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Messages
222
I enabled search engine friendly URLs on all my PunBB sites recently and have spent the time since fiddling with extensions and adding "/"es and updating URLs. This was all a rather a lot of effort and I still haven't finished yet.

I just did a Google search and noticed that all the old URL's are still indexed.

My question is: If these links are so friendly, why doesn't Google prefer them? Is there something I have to do to get Google to notice them and if I do will it make any difference in my site's ranking?

I notice that this forum uses the old school URLs and still ranks high in searches.
 

ToxicBunny

Oi! Leave me out of this...
Joined
Apr 8, 2006
Messages
105,081
Google doesn't care about SEFs...

Google uses links....
 

Grant Petersen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Messages
222
Obviously yes, they have PageRank and such, but that is not the only factor. Keyword placement counts a lot too. I know that my search engine, for instance, counts keywords in both meta tags and URLs
 

ToxicBunny

Oi! Leave me out of this...
Joined
Apr 8, 2006
Messages
105,081
What your search engine does and and what Google does are 2 totally different things....

SEF urls should actually be known as UF URls (User Friendly URLs) because that is more along the lines of what they achieve.
 

Grant Petersen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Messages
222
In what way is:

adsbb.co.za/topic/17/post-free-ads-south-africans-only/

more user friendly than:

adsbb.co.za/topic/17/

The only difference that I can see is that the first URL contains more keywords.
 

zamrg

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
773
In what way is:

adsbb.co.za/topic/17/post-free-ads-south-africans-only/

more user friendly than:

adsbb.co.za/topic/17/

The only difference that I can see is that the first URL contains more keywords.

as an example, blogs which use urls such as myblog.tld/2009-09-04/my-new-blog-post is a lot easier to read (and helpful given the date) than something like myblog.tld/index.php?page=1&post=22

IMO, another benefit of using SEF urls with url redirection is the slightly added benefit of security:
- get parameter names aren't visible
- you can use semi input validation at apache level before even reaching code level, eg: a url redirect with something like myblog.tld/page/[0-9]+ will only accept numbers as a parameter.
- etc
 

Grant Petersen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Messages
222
as an example, blogs which use urls such as myblog.tld/2009-09-04/my-new-blog-post is a lot easier to read (and helpful given the date) than something like myblog.tld/index.php?page=1&post=22

IMO, another benefit of using SEF urls with url redirection is the slightly added benefit of security:
- get parameter names aren't visible
- you can use semi input validation at apache level before even reaching code level, eg: a url redirect with something like myblog.tld/page/[0-9]+ will only accept numbers as a parameter.
- etc

Yeah, plus they just look cooler. :D

But how do I get Google to index them instead of the old ones?
 

zamrg

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
773
Yeah, plus they just look cooler. :D

But how do I get Google to index them instead of the old ones?

If you have a Google Webmasters account, you can apply to have individual urls removed from their index.

It would also help setting up a xml sitemap which you can host on your site or upload to Google in Google Webmaster. This will quickly allow Google to discover new links on your site and help it to crawl.
 

Grant Petersen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Messages
222
If you have a Google Webmasters account, you can apply to have individual urls removed from their index.

It would also help setting up a xml sitemap which you can host on your site or upload to Google in Google Webmaster. This will quickly allow Google to discover new links on your site and help it to crawl.

I re-submitted my xml sitemap using Webmaster Tools. You're right Google hadn't downloaded the updated version yet.

I'm tempted to try removing URL's but am worried about loosing PageRank, is there some way to point it at the new page instead?
 

zamrg

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
773
I re-submitted my xml sitemap using Webmaster Tools. You're right Google hadn't downloaded the updated version yet.

I'm tempted to try removing URL's but am worried about loosing PageRank, is there some way to point it at the new page instead?

I think what you're looking for is a 301 permanent redirect, but could be wrong :)

check out http://www.webconfs.com/how-to-redirect-a-webpage.php as it has numerous methods to do so depending on your choice of scripting language, although it's probably best to do url rewriting with an apache .htaccess file.

When Google realises the page has permanently moved, it should remove your old pages from it's index and then index the new locations.
 

guest2013-1

guest
Joined
Aug 22, 2003
Messages
19,800
PageRank.... you poor poor silly little man ;)

Page Rank is a voting system, changing your site to SEF's now won't have much impact on it if you're internal links are updated (which I think you said you have)

And external sites should follow suit or new links would be created to new topics etc (I'm sure your software handles a direct link to topicid=14 and redirects to the new SEF link)

Where SEF helps is long tail keywords and organic indexing. For example:

"Diets" will yield 40597339582659736840958724936 website hits, but "diets for kids under the age of 12" would hit less websites.

So lets assume someone started a topic "diets for kids under the age of 12" and you have a SEF url in there. Google can pick it up much easier than topicid=67

Also remember, it takes months for Google to index all your site, and changing it now, expecting something to happen overnight won't mean it'll index it as fast. So changing and updating your sitemap is a good thing... Google downloads my sitemap at least every 12 hours, so it means the frequency of your sitemap changing wasn't that much and you had to do a manual update.

Back to Page Rank. The voting system... easy to get confused.

It's all to do with linking. Your home page links to 5 internal pages for example. And lets say your homepage has an incoming link from another site with a PR of 1.

That 1 then gets carried over to the home page, and split up into 5 (the math you can find on wikipedia, but this is what basically happens). So your incoming link "votes" part of its PR of 1 to your homepage, and your homepage then "votes" for each of your internal links with a bit of it's PR... and so on and so on and so on.

If those 5 internal pages link back to your homepage, your home page then gets votes from all those pages and then has a little more PR.

Ideally, if your incoming link does give you a PR of 1. And your internal linking is setup right, you could be seeing as much as a PR of 3 on your homepage.

This isn't factoring in any external links you may carry. Remember, the PR vote gets split up by how many links on your site, and if you give away a vote and the external site doesn't reciprocate, you lose that tiny bit of vote and your PR goes down.

Understand? So SEF doesn't have a big impact on anything if you have the external links coming in and handle the transistion from topicid=554 to SEF gracefully.

Google will just re-index everything anyway over time.

PR is an indication of how popular a site is, but isn't a true reflection of indexed searches or how well you're doing in terms of SEO. A lot of people worry more about that then SEO and gets confused... don't :)
 

Grant Petersen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Messages
222
Thanks, but I am well aware of the difference between PageRank and ranking in searches. That's essentially what I was arguing with ToxicBunny about!

I think the redirect you mentioned nailed the actual root of the problem. The forum software I'm using just displays the page for the old link instead of redirecting to the new SEF link. Google then sees the new link as duplicate content and therefore doesn't want to index it. Really wish I'd done this at the start.

Will fiddle with it a bit and see what the guys on the PunBB forum say.
 

Raithlin

Executive Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2005
Messages
5,040
Sounds like you're sorted. To answer your initial question though, Google will index both types of urls, but will generally score the SEF url higher due to the existence of keywords within the url. 301 redirects are the ideal answer to moving pages, as Google will then transfer any rank the old page may have to the new one.
 

Grant Petersen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Messages
222
Thanks! I thought Google might work in a similar way to Sphider and count keywords in the URL. Nice to have confirmation :)
 

Raithlin

Executive Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2005
Messages
5,040
Not only does Google count the keywords, but it attributes a higher score to keywords found in the page title and URL.
 

Grant Petersen

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Messages
222
Then it definitely works similarly to Sphider! Check it out, I can change the weight depending on whether the keyword appears in the title, domain name, path or meta_keywords:

1243255137.gif
 
Top