Links: Short and Simple vs Long and Hardcoded

While some professional webmasters still claim that PHP links with long structure (such as http://www.anydomain.com/directory/file.php?
parameter=number&option=value
for example) are not indexed by major search engines or indexed not correctly, i’ve made some experiments to check it out.

It’s true, that long and hardcoded links (see an example above) are not so user friendly, but search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN and others are powerful and smart enough to index all the content under these links without any problems. I think you had an ability to check it yourself by doing some searches. And i’m 100% sure you saw hardcoded links placed at the top of search results several times at least. It just confirms: webmasters, who claim that hardcoded links are not indexed, are wrong. Spiders don’t care what links do you have. Spider has the only one task to do – index all the links it finds, but not to rate a link as good (user friendly) or bad (not so user friendly). So what the point to have a nice structure for your links? The experiment begins…

Few months ago i’ve made some pages with unique text (to prevent other websites from appearing in search results) and placed them on different domains hosted on different servers (both domains had the same Google Page Rank, the same number of incoming links, etc). The only one difference was links structure. The first domain had all the pages placed under long and hardcoded PHP links, the second domain used nice and simple links structure (http://www.theseconddomain.com/anypage.html and http://www.
theseconddomain.com/folder/subfolder/
). Few weeks have passed. What a good time to start searching. Started my internet browser and entered search term 1. The results were following: the 1st result – page accessible via short link, the 2nd result – page placed under the long link. Then searched for term 2, term 3 and term 4. The same again – short and simple links always go first, long and hardcoded links appear below. As you see, there is no difference if website uses HTML structure (http://www.anydomain.com/page.html) or folders structure (http://www.anydomain.com/folder/subfolder/) – results are good. Unfortunately, i can not say the same about long PHP links.

Some webmasters may ask: “So why should i bother to place everything using simple structure, if the 2nd position in search results is very good too?” But hey, do you know any keyword which is placed on 2 websites only? I’m not talking about keyword such as This_Is_My_Unique_Keyword_And_No_One_Has_It. This is a real world, the same keyword is placed in millions of websites and you need to do everything you can to place a page as high as possible in search results.

However, simple structure and user friendly links is just a small part of search engines optimization. Search engines rank websites according to the title, text placement, extra tags (text in bold, paragraphs, headings…) usage and other options also. But as my experiment shows, if you’ve got two or more pages which have the same (or almost the same) content, search engines rank them according to links structure, where simple=better. And if you have optimized links structure while competitor hasn’t, you are going right…