Brian, David and I discuss two Google Webmaster Central Blog posts and the impact of those announcements on how we build sites, review our stats and logs, and how we deal with clients.
Specifically, we discuss:
- Crawling through HTML Forms — Friday, April 11, 2008
- Dynamic URLs vs static URLs — Monday, September 22, 2008
In a nutshell, Google says they pull “important” terms from surrounding pages and use them to populate search boxes and other forms in an effort to get more content. Some of the terms they pull don’t seem like things normal people would be searching for, so we’re not sure how exactly they decide what terms to try or not try. You should be able to scan through your access logs and pick out examples of the bot filling in forms to see for yourself.
As for the 180 degree flip on dynamic URLs vs. static URLs, we’re pretty much in agreement that it’s not a green light to shut off URL rewriting or stop doing “pretty URLs”. Pretty URLs enhance the user experience, and in cases where you have an existing web site that is already turning ugly, dynamic URLs into pretty static strings, you should DEFINITELY not deviate from the status quo. Changing all of your existing URLs will cause a horrendous drop in traffic while the engines try to figure out what you’ve done and get everything sorted out.