Dynamic pages can add unique value to a site, though they might also cause problems with crawling and even indexing your pages. To avoid this, take a look at some of our suggestions on how to make dynamic pages more search engine friendly.
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Dynamic pages and search engine bots
A dynamic page can be two things: Firstly a web page that displays different content every time it’s opened. A page might change with the time of day or depending on the user that is accessing it. Take your Facebook feed as an example of dynamic content. Or the search page of Twitter – the URL stays the same but the content changes.
The second example of a dynamic page is one that is generated by a user input, for example, if you’re on an e-commerce store and searching by filter, you can introduce lots of filters into the URL, for example:
If you use dynamic pages on your site, it’s important to know that some search engine spiders do not crawl dynamic pages as well as static pages. Your site might therefore not be indexed as well as it could be if the pages were static.
Google used to have a guideline telling site owners not to use ““&id=” as a parameter in your URLs” because they excluded these pages from their index altogether. However, times are changing and Google now indexes such pages, as well as having their own dynamic pages.
Ways to make dynamic pages SEO friendly
Though Google now does index dynamic pages, Googlebot still struggles to crawl these types of pages, so there are a few things you should do if you want to make your dynamic pages more search engine friendly.
1. Dynamic URLs with a high number of parameters are generally problematic for search engines, so it’s advisable to rewrite dynamic URLs into user-friendly clean URLs. A fixed URL, i.e. yourwebsite.com/latest-news/ is far better than yourcontent.com/index.php?=2017-01-11-news
2. Keeping the number of URL parameters to one or two makes it easier for search engine spiders to crawl your site, so limit this where possible.
If you have filters on your site (i.e. you’re an e-commerce store for example, make sure you set all filtered URLs with a canonical back to the main page and set these pages as ‘noindex,follow’. In the example below, all these pages should be canonicalized back to the URL: yourwebsite.com/store/jackets/
3. Only one version of any given page should be available to search engine spiders, so if you create static pages that are copies of your dynamic pages, this isn’t good practice. If you do however, ensure you notify Googlebot or other spiders that they are a copy by using a robots.txt file
Nowadays search engines are more sophisticated than ever before and so dynamic pages do get crawled, it just takes much longer for them to be fully indexed than static pages. Google understands that dynamic pages are of value, though if you are going to use them then you should make them easier to crawl where possible.
Best practice example
Let’s say you run a furniture store and sell your products online. You’ve got a homepage, category pages and product pages. You’ve also got the ability to search and filter. You’re adding and removing products on a regular basis. Plus, you update your blog regularly and bring that content into your product pages.
There are a lot of URLs, constantly changing content and thousands of filter variables.
However, this is a fairly normal set-up and nothing to be too worried about.
Tips for dynamic pages and SEO
1. Don’t spend a lot of time worrying about or optimising your homepage; make sure it’s clear, loads quickly and helps a user get to where they want to go.
2. Make sure you have as much static content on your category pages. For example, if you have a brand page and also a product-type page, let’s say: Tempur for the brand and Pillows for the product. Make sure you have relevant and optimised copy on these pages to balance out the fact that the products on these pages will mean the page content will always be changing. However thanks to your copy (including links to subcategories, Tempur pillows and Tempur mattresses for example), your page will be ‘less’ dynamic and more balanced.
3. Don’t focus on the pages generated when you filter. If people search and then filter, some platforms will generate loads of very similar URLs, which can hurt your SEO but only if you rely on these pages as landing pages. Make sure the string generated in the URL is as human-friendly as possible, i.e. brand=tempur&category=pillows rather than brand=98&category=292 and that these pages are set with a meta directive of ‘noindex,follow’.
4. Finally, focus on your product pages. These products will usually only be surfaced in search engine results pages when people are looking for that exact product. So, optimise-the-hell out of these pages. Make sure that you monitor your rankings because users clicking on your result are much more likely to be shown what they’re after and consequently buy your product.
5. Don’t have dynamic content for the sake of it. On your product page don’t have blog content there – you’re taking someone away from your product to read a blog – you might never see them again! Use your blog content to drive traffic to the pages on your site that drive more business. Don’t have your ‘money’ pages link to traffic driving pages.
Avoid dynamic URLs. For URL variations created by filters, use the meta directives shown above. Put as much useful static content on dynamic pages as possible. Remove as much redundant dynamic content from static pages as possible.
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