Pretty much everyone who keeps a pulse on the SEO community has heard of, read, commented on, or created a blog post in response to John C. Dvorak’s recent post on the PC Magazine site about SEO Fiascoes. For those who have not heard, he basically bashes a mainstay of many years in the SEO industry — long URLs. As the story goes he got some SEO advice from someone who supposedly knows what they are talking about gave him a comment about using long url’s, which he interpreted to mean that his traffic would rise if implemented. Or so his story plays out in his post.
Two things come to mind for me… one, he knows nothing about long URLs, how they came in to vogue, or what they were intended to accomplish. Secondly, to the SEO inclined he comes off as an idiot in a bully pulpit preaching about something he has limited knowledge of.
With regards to long URLs, they were not originally implemented as keyword laden URLs. What has morphed in to long URLs originally was an idea to accomodate the search engine spiders apparent inability to spider dynamic URLs.
http://www.threestonemedia.com/index.php?page=form&id=1 (this is a contrived example)
Long URL Equivalent
http://www.threestonemedia.com/contact-us (contrived again)
Back in “the day”, a website owner may have had mediocre luck in getting the dynamic URL form indexed as it was often the case that search engines did not spider/index dynamic URLs extensively. By converting a URL to a “long URL” the search engine spiders would find the page, spider it, and if it had any quality what so ever it would be indexed. Our first implementation of this type of URL conversion resulted in a site increasing from under 100 indexed pages to over 3000 indexed pages in a matter of 2 weeks.
In the current search engine world, the issues around spidering dynamic URLs has supposedly been addressed. Although if it was truly addressed, would the big 3 have come out with the new canonical URL tag recently? It really does not matter though. Just as old wives tales go, when non-SEO webmasters took tales of how to increase indexed pages and rankings, the general mantra has become – “throw a long URL on it and your rankings will increase”. This is surely bogus as search results are often not completely driven by any on SEO trick you can implement.
Back to Dvorak, my first thought was that he is an idiot (and I am not completely backing off that assumption) for presenting his opinion as an expert opinion on a subject which is outside of his skillset. However, the more I ponder his comments and the immediate backlash the more I think his SEO expert may really have been teaching him the art of link-baiting. His post has generated tons of links for PC Magazine (including mine — which are nofollowed – HA!). He has rejuvenated a sliding image, especially among those who view SEO as voo-doo. He might even have made himself relevant again.
I don’t think Dvorak would have thought this up of his own accord. I do however think that his SEO “maven” may have tossed out the idea as something to play with.