Delicate balance between pretty URLs and maintaining SEO link juice

When a user conducts a keyword search and finds a testimonial they want to read the URL looks like this:

If the website emails a user stating that a new testimonial has been posted that matches one of their searches, the format looks like this:

When a registered chooses to use our forwarding feature to send the testimonial to a friend the URL looks like this:

So each of these URLs will technically pull up the same testimonial. It’s just that different code is processed depending if the person arrived on the page via a keyword search, match notification email, or referral email. The problem is, as far as I know, Facebook and Google treat each of these URLs as separate pages. So the total of Facebook likes for this particular testimonial won’t accrue correctly. Nor will I help my SEO efforts.

My goal is to start using pretty URLs, like the following, to increase SEO link juice:

I have a plan to make this work, but wanted to run this past the experts here on this form. It involves creating a new router.php page. So the new process would be:

  1. A user gets an email letting them know a new testimonial has been posted. The link in the email would use the new format of:

  2. This router.php page would grab the tID and sID from the URL and store it in the session.

  3. The router.php page would then redirect the user to the pretty URL format: This way the URL in the address bar will always be the same, no matter how the user lands on the page. Google and Facebook will no longer see different URLs that point to the same page. The essential-oils.php page would just need to be changed to look for the tID, sID or rID variables in the session, as opposed to the URL.

Is this a good idea? Or is there a much better way?



To me, the error is in providing multiple URIs to the same location (which should and DOES incur a penalty from SE’s). Fix that and you won’t have a problem. There is no excuse for your e-mail script to not reformat the link nor for your testimonials to do so either.

Yes, you can easily “fix” this crazy mix with mod_rewrite (you don’t need the power of a PHP script) but I’d ask WHY? Do it right the first time and you don’t need to worry about the ill effects of multiple links.



[font=verdana]I can think of easier ways of doing it, but I’m not a PHP guy so I don’t know how sensible it is…

You can solve the problem of Google seeing multiple URLs with the canonical tag. Choose the URL that you want Google to index, and put the in the <head> a line like:

<link rel="canonical" href="">

and that tells Google that, whatever URL it found that page it, you want it to index it under the one you’ve given. (You can use this if there are slight variations as well, so if people from one referrer get a slightly different version of the page it won’t matter or hurt your ranking.)

While you can construct the URL in a different way for different referrers, it’s even easier (and more intuitive for users) if you just pop a query on the end, eg[/font]