For our second installment of our SEO Myth Series, we’re going to address page extensions – as in what your filenames end in for your website. With the variety of programming technologies available for web development, a number of different file extensions exist on the web. The most basic being .html or .htm, typically from static html written pages. As website technology advanced, so did the use of other programming languages to create dynamically driven websites – ASP (.asp), PHP (.php), Cold Fusions (.cfm), Java (.jsp), .NET (.aspx), are all examples of commonly used technologies and their corresponding extensions.
Many people hold the belief that the naming of your pages will affect your search rankings. And not to pick on the same person two weeks in a row, but again, the OnTheAvenues.com blog in their Forgotten Fundamentals of SEO post states:
“As a general rule, search engines will not properly index documents that:
- contain a “?” or “&”
- End in the following document types: .cfm, .asp, .shtml, .php, .stm, .jsp, .cgi, .pl
- Could potentially generate a large number of URLs.
To avoid complications, consider creating static pages whenever possible, perhaps using the database to update the pages, not to generate them on the fly.”
And Bonnie isn’t the only person perpetuating this myth. Just recently, I had a conversation with Noah at Resposio, who is a self-proclaimed SEO expert. We have a website hosted with them, and in the setup of this website we were requesting to setup IIS to handle extensionless URLs (like so: http://www.mysite.com/category/product). During this conversation, Noah disputed that these URLs would not be properly indexed by the search engines, and furthermore, the search engines preferred certain extensions over others. In particular, .aspx and .php because it “indicates to them pages that are dynamic and thus update more often”. And he wasn’t just casually mentioning it might be a factor, he was arguing it in a “matter of fact” type attitude. Exactly the opposite of what Bonnie contends.
So, who’s right? Well, neither. While at some point, a long time ago, search engines may have had trouble with dynamic URLs with querystrings, but this logic does not apply today. Just think about this concept, search engines can’t afford to give preference to one or the other – their preference is based on what website is going to provide the best results to the searcher, regardless of how the website is written (even though Microsoft does have a vested interest in the success of .NET).