When you're developing an effective online presence, you need to tap the power of search engine optimization. For dynamically driven web sites though, applying search engine optimization in a thorough manner can be difficult.
What is a Dynamic Web Site?
For the sake of this blog post, a dynamic web site can be defined as a site that is using a database to pull content and provide it to users. Many times, databases of this nature may include articles, products, services, events. As a result, the webmasters of these sites have to find a way to convince Google and other major engines to index anywhere from a dozen pages to literally tens of thousands of pages.
What is a Query String?
A query string is the process of passing variables through a string of text. In this case, a query string URL refers to the use of a “?” in a pages actual URL. As an example, this is a URL with a query string:
Are Query Strings in URLs Really a Problem?
The short answer is no — assuming of course that you have done your homework. Ideally, you want to limit the number of variables being passed through the query string though.
Eliminating and Reducing Query Strings in URLs
There are a number of ways in which a web server can still dynamically generate pages without the use of query strings. One such way would be to use a CMS that relies on query string free architecture. Another is the common .htaccess rewrite methods available on Apache web servers.
Warning: rewriting query strings and URLs can be a difficult and dangerous task. Speak with your hosting provider and tech support if you have never done this before!
Templating is Your Friend. Sort of.
The greatest aspect of templating out a dynamic web site is the ease of use for updating and making modifications. When you try to template optimization though, you're left with a number of issues.
First off, how can you really optimize one template that handles thousands of pages with pure optimization? You can't. There's a level of customization that needs to be factored into place here, and it's best to work with your design and production teams (or, third party CMS support) to integrate some new variables to use in your templates.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Add a field that contains META Keywords
- Add a field that contains META Descriptions
- Add a field that contains Page Titles
- Add in the ability to format text (bold, italics, etc.)
Use those Sitemaps!
Both Google and Yahoo allow you to manage sitemaps for a reason. Use these to your advantage as they'll specifically tell each of the major engines that your content exists. Using the Google Webmaster service too will allow you to easily see where your content is being ranked, how people are finding you, etc. In the end — make sure there is room to scale up and allow for more customizations.