Search Engine Friendly URLs

For today’s Automotive Websites, database driven or dynamic sites have become an industry standard. Unfortunately for Automotive dealers, these types of sites use really strange looking web addresses containing things called “query strings” to pass information between pages. For Search Engines, these types of URLs have no relevant information about the content on the page, and do no good from an SEO perspective.

By looking at the URL below you will see that this is a vehicle page with a URL based on dynamic parameters, but this displays little information of any real meaning to Search Engine spiders.

Example of an Unfriendly URL:

http://www.dallasdodge.net/details.php?&VIN=1J4NT2GA0AD506360

ClickMotive combats this by using “Friendly URLs” with rich keywords and content Search Engine spiders can read. The example below would be much more relevant to Search Engines for a New 2010 Toyota Camry for Sale in Richardson than the previous example.

Example of a Friendly URL:

http://toyotaofrichardson.com/Richardson/For-Sale/New/Toyota/Camry/2010-4dr-Sdn-I4-Auto-Tan-Car/3068205/

SEO-friendly URLs contain words and proper filenames, and they don’t contain special characters or spaces (when necessary dashes are used to separate words). Using SEO-friendly URLs can dramatically improve your organic search rankings simply because they emphasize keywords that actually mean something and are easier to index than numbers and strings.

When a Search Engine spider comes across a symbol such as a question mark (?), then the engine perceives the symbol as a dynamic parameter. Because of this, they may not be able to assign any relevance to the URL itself since it may not contain any valuable, indexable information.

By clearly specifying the domain name, location, and vehicle information, the consumer knows which site they are on, what vehicle they are looking at, and where it is located. So in other words, the URL actually makes sense and means something. In comparison to an unfriendly URL which contains virtually no useful elements to a consumer or to a Search Engine spider, the friendly URL encompasses all the requirements necessary to help achieve good rankings on Search Engine result pages.

The first task was creating a directory structure that not only made sense but also worked. If you are on a vehicle page like the example above, and want to navigate back to all the new Toyota’s for sale, then just simply delete the vehicle portion of the URL, and the site will take you back to all the New Toyota’s in the dealer’s inventory.

We then developed a file naming system to optimize for not only SEO, but for usability. We studied Google Trends to find out what words car buyers used and simply used those terms when naming the directories that make up the URL. At first glance you might think that it makes sense to call the directory with inventory “Inventory”, but car buyers don’t search for “New Toyota Camry Inventory in Richardson”, instead they type “New Toyota Camry for Sale in Richardson”.

We also are adhering to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for recommendations on proper URL structure. The URL structure of a FUSION™ Website is simple, concise, and the content is organized so that URLs are constructed logically in a manner that is readable by humans.   Be careful with other website providers who might just stuff a lot of keywords into a file name with no organization structure.  This sort of activity may not work for long as search engines get more sophisticated.  At ClickMotive, we don’t take short cuts for trendy SEO fads – we put in the hard work to produce results for the long run.

Because we feel that a dealer’s inventory is the most important, most viewed, most searched, and most crawled content on a car dealer’s website, we updated that page class first with this friendlier URL structure. Stay tuned in and we will keep you updated on our progress as we build out the rest of the Friendlier URLs throughout all of FUSION™.

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