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Thread: Should I change my web page extensions?

  1. #1
    WebProWorld MVP wige's Avatar
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    Should I change my web page extensions?

    I have read many threads that talk about the benefits of making pages appear static using mod_rewrite, both for SEO and security. I understand the benefit of rewriting URLs to be more friendly so that instead of long query strings they look more like a folder structure. However, is there any benefit to changing the extension?

    My site is built using PHP for database and other interactive content. As a result, all pages end in .php. None of the pages in question have query strings at the end. Is there any reason to set up a rewrite so that the pages will have the "traditional" .html extension instead of .php?

    The two possibilities that occur to me are security (in case a vulnerability is found in PHP, I'm hiding the fact that my site uses PHP by changing the extension - and yes, I also removed the other tell-tale headers) or SE optimization (my site might have some penalty because the extension shows them to be obviously dynamic pages). Are these valid reasons to change the extension, or are there others? I look forward to hearing your opinions on this.
    The best way to learn anything, is to question everything.
    WigeDev - Freelance web and software development

  2. #2
    Junior Member garettharper's Avatar
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    SEO

    Anything that will increase traffic and fairly simple to implement (assuming you're comfortable with servers)is worth doing. Once the search engine sees that question mark in your dynamic URL it will drop the rest of it. See here...

    www.webconfs.com/dynamic-urls-vs-static-urls-article-3.php
    Garett Harper
    iEntry, Inc.

  3. #3
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    Once the search engine sees that question mark in your dynamic URL it will drop the rest of it. See here...
    How can you justify that comment? I've written a number of sites that use a querystring parameter for article id's etc, all managed to be indexed fine. How would this be possible if my querystring was dropped?

  4. #4
    WebProWorld MVP wige's Avatar
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    Re: SEO

    Quote Originally Posted by garettharper
    Once the search engine sees that question mark in your dynamic URL it will drop the rest of it.
    At the very least, Google doesn't. I had a catalog page which presented detailed information about a product based on very specific passed parameters. Until I used robots.txt to block the page, Google indexed 21,748 versions of the page.
    The best way to learn anything, is to question everything.
    WigeDev - Freelance web and software development

  5. #5
    WebProWorld MVP incrediblehelp's Avatar
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    You don't need to change your URLs at all unless they are deemed "hard to crawl" by the SE's This can be seen by just posting a few examples of your URLs. If they are hard to crawl then translating them might be a good idea, but most of the time website owners do this for new good reason at all and it is usually based on bad SEO advice from 2001.

    Also page extensions themselves have nothing to do and don't effect SEO at all.

    SEO misinformation is what got us here, clear and logical thinking will get us back on the right track.

  6. #6
    I have a few websites, and have modified some of them to a 301. What I find is that, although there is no initial benefit for Google spidering the site. When it comes to search listings, then having the title tag in the url gives extra keywords in the search results. Which may or may not get a higher placement in the list.
    Find your next holiday rental, and swimwear to go.

  7. #7
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    Re: SEO

    Quote Originally Posted by garettharper
    Once the search engine sees that question mark in your dynamic URL it will drop the rest of it.
    Sadly wrong. I have loads of dynamic pages with question marks in the top 3 engines.

  8. #8
    Junior Member garettharper's Avatar
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    I stand corrected...

    I am currently converting a website that was created with Coldfusion over to a dynamic, PHP-driven site. One of the bosses "requested" that I change the URLs to look static, because Google and other search engines will pass over any dynamic URLs (and the ? is a dead giveaway) and thus won't crawl the site. I am new to SEO and took this as something new learned. If I've passed erroneous information, I apologize.

    AND thanks to everyone who corrected my error. From now on I'll try to stick with what I know, not what I think I know...
    Garett Harper
    iEntry, Inc.

  9. #9
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    Been there, done that...

    Here's a simple way to tell your server to run all php scripts in a html page (effectively hiding your php page as a static html page)

    Add this to your .htaccess file:
    AddHandler php-script .html .htm

    I hope this helps you... EA
    E. Armand

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Here's a simple way to tell your server to run all php scripts in a html page (effectively hiding your php page as a static html page)

    Add this to your .htaccess file:
    AddHandler php-script .html .htm

    I hope this helps you... EA
    What would be the point of this? If you have existing html pages you would like to use php on, without changing the page names, this would be a good solution. If you are building a site from scratch just use .php

    One of the bosses "requested" that I change the URLs to look static, because Google and other search engines will pass over any dynamic URLs (and the ? is a dead giveaway) and thus won't crawl the site.
    As stated this seems to be an old line of thinking. Although rewriting could produce urls that look more friendly to your visitors if you use a lot of page parameters.

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