Dynamic websites have their obvious advantages. The ability to automate, create, edit, and delete content through a database and server side scripting is a must when dealing with large and constantly updated websites.
Of course, this is not always the best thing for SEO. Traditionally speaking, dynamic content has been the bane of many SEOs. Dynamic URLs like yourdomain.com/productpage.php?CatID=31&SubCatID=32 are not the most SEO friendly URLs. And the largely automated content dynamic pages tend to pull isn’t always the best for keyword density.
URL Rewrites on Dynamic URLs
The first problem is the non-SEO friendly URLs dynamically created pages tend to result in. Fortunately, URL rewriting allows you to ‘overwrite’ URLS like:
with URLs like
Learn more about URL Rewrites here
301 redirects and Canonical Link Rel
Often times you may find yourself needing to “change” a previous URL. For example, say you’ve implemented URL rewrites, BUT there are X amount of websites out there pointing to your old yourdomain.com/productpage.php?CatID=31&SubCatID=32. In order to transfer this link equity to your newer page, you’ll want to use a 301 redirect. If for some reason you are unable to implement a 301 redirect, you’ll want to use the Canonical link rel to transfer this link equity. Keep in mind, it’s not just old clunky dynamic URLs that may need to be redirected or have the Canonical link rel pointing to the newer, preferred page. It can also be a non-www version or URL pointing to the www version (or vice versa).
Learn more about 301 Redirects | Learn more about Canonical Link Rel
When it comes to dynamic websites, the ideal solution for implementing quality Meta, Title, and H1 tags is to have an admin that will allow your SEO/marketing team to individually create these tags for each page. If this isn’t possible (web developer and web marketers alike are often pulled in 10 different directions and may find themselves unable to create an admin or individually create tags for every page on a website), it may be possible to simply use the same object reference for multiple tags. The title of your article or name of your product may very well serve as the Title, Description, as well as the H1 tag on a page. And while this isn’t the worse thing in the world, keep in mind each tag has its own nuances. The search engines will generally parse roughly the first 60 characters of your Title tag, which means you can effectively insert keywords within the first 60 characters. However, for usability and aesthetic reasons, you probably don’t want an H1 tag that spans anything close to 60 characters.
An Image ALT tag looks like this:
img src=http://www.yourdomain.com/images/blue-widget.jpg alt="blue widgets"
The effectiveness of ALT tags for on-page SEO is hotly debated, and some contend that it makes no difference. For this reason, it’s probably not worth the time to individually create or edit these tags. For this reason, the best solution in my opinion is to dynamically insert the value the image represents as the ALT tag. So if you have an image of a Blue Widget, and a link entitled Blue Widgets, and both link to your Blue Widget product page, your developers are probably best off using the value that inserts the link text Blue Widgets into the ALT tag of the image.
Link Title Tags
Link Title Tags look like this:
a href=http://www.yourdomain.com/ widgets/blue-widgets.php title=”blue widgets
The same rules for the image ALT tag applies to your Link Title Tags. Assuming they even make a dent in your SEO, their effect is likely minimal, and hence, probably not worth the time it takes to individually edit. So once again, when pulling dynamic values, the most efficient method is likely to simply pull the link text. So if your link text is “blue widgets,” simply pull that same value for the link text.
With a little resourcefulness and a bit of proactive thinking, it’s not that difficult to turn your dynamic site into an efficient SEO machine–even with a limited staff. Of course, every website is different, so take these suggestions with the knowledge that my experience may be different from yours, and modify what you take from this post accordingly.
Sources for further reading