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Old 04-02-2007   #1
luckyluc
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How is it possible to control or manipulate URLs for DB driven sites?

My company is currently undergoing a transition to a database driven site. The first plan from the DB guys was to use ID numbers to display the product pages. For example, the product page for bananas would be something to effect of:

http://www.abcfruit.com/yellowfruit/fruitinfo.php?fid=204

They've now compromised a bit with me because that's obviously not very friendly SEO for a page about bananas. This is the compromise:

http://www.abcfruit.com/yellowfruit/204/bananas/index.html

They claim that they need the fruit ID in the URL (204) to populate the page. Is there a way to satisfy BOTH of our needs and have an even more simple URL? Something like:

http://www.abcfruit.com/yellowfruit/bananas/index.html

or even

http://www.abcfruit.com/yellow/bananas/fruit.html

Is it possible to have one link with the fruit ID parameter in the background, but have the forward facing URL for users be the .../yellow/bananas/fruit.html URL?

I'd love some advice on this, especially if you can give me facts, tools, methods to back up what I'm saying and also make it easier for them to implement. Thanks!

Last edited by luckyluc : 04-02-2007 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 04-02-2007   #2
ExposureTim
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Any of what you mention is possible. It all just depends on getting the programmers interested enough to use well-planned (less lazy) methods. Best approach is to convince them of the value of what you're asking, buy them a beer, then ask again. They probably already know it can be done but prefer the easier and more-flexible/forgiving method.

I won't tell you the code they should use - when I was a programmer I specialized in another language - but yes all of the options you mention are possible if the programmers are capable. Anything is possible with qualified programmers.

The simple way to describe the solution to them is to ask them to plan the url structure so that they'd parse the string each time a page loads and turn that string into a query.

If planned properly, your database structure could include a category/subcat structure whereby there is a category of fruit, a subcat of banana and a sub-sub cat of yellow. Parsing the url (CGI.PATH_INFO) using the / as a delimiter would provide a list of items to use in their database query.

Assuming the database was planned properly, the query of fruit, banana, yellow would only return one result each time.

Otherwise, adding the numeric value of 204 as a fourth parameter wouldn't hurt much if it's really necessary.
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Old 04-03-2007   #3
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I'm also researching this at mo which is why I found your post. This may be useful for you to read up on before going back to your developers. It's a bit old but just what you're looking for I think: sitepoint.com/article/search-engine-friendly-urls

Last edited by Chris Boggs : 04-04-2007 at 09:04 AM. Reason: remove live link
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Old 04-03-2007   #4
luckyluc
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Thanks for the input guys!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ExposureTim
They probably already know it can be done but prefer the easier and more-flexible/forgiving method.
This really seems like it's the case. All of the devs are under pressure to meet the deadline and they've decided to go with the http://www.abcfruit.com/yellowfruit/204/bananas/index.html method. I haven't bought any beer yet, but because of those deadlines there are frazzled devs working furiously who don't want to make ANY changes at this point.

The most friendly of devs (bless his heart) explained to me that a transition from:

http://www.abcfruit.com/yellowfruit/204/bananas/index.html
to
http://www.abcfruit.com/yellow/bananas/fruit.html

would tack on another month of dev work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ExposureTim
Assuming the database was planned properly, the query of fruit, banana, yellow would only return one result each time.
He explained that the new site architecture has to be like this because of the (shoddy) legacy system which our current (shoddy) site architecture will leave behind. However, I don't want this new legacy to beget another troubling legacy and I firmly believe we should make it the best we can now so we don't have to change it so soon (again!).

Tim, do you think this is that laziness you mentioned compounded by the deadline pressure from execs? Or do you believe that this really would take a month? Everyone seems very capable.

As an SEO (beginner as I may be) I feel like I should stand my ground and enforce the best practices here, but I have a hard time figuring out if this change is even worth the work that must go into it...
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Old 04-04-2007   #5
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It seems as though your developer thinks you're asking to redesign the database structure, which you don't need to do. A mod_rewrite ought to achieve what you want to achieve without redesigning anything. See link I posted above and also this related article: sitepoint.com/article/guide-url-rewriting

Last edited by Chris Boggs : 04-04-2007 at 09:05 AM. Reason: remove live link
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Old 04-05-2007   #6
ExposureTim
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I wouldn't bet on laziness as a factor here. That happens, surely, but more likely the programmer's are at a stage in the development where making changes to their efforts is obviously undesirable.

This goes to the point of SEO too often being a consideration after the fact... but importantly the 'after' hasn't started yet for you - keep pushy and make the argument that the success of THEIR project depends on the ultimate value the company/client can get from it.
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Old 04-05-2007   #7
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Either way, don't forget to setup / implement 301 redirects from the old URLs to the new URLs.
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