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How advanced URL provider works

How you present your catalog URL is important for SEO and can help increase sales by making your products more easily discover-able by humans. 

Consider a typical product URL contains some query string parameters to allow the computer to return the requested product. Traditionally, the format shown below with the query string parameter appearing after the question mark is the normal URL form and is the form that most underlying Web applications can consume and understand.

http://site.com/product?rvdsfpid=shoe-3

When you enable friendly URL rewriting, the query string parameter may be rewritten as segments in the URL path to provide for a more friendly format. The challenge of rewriting a URL is to not lose any information and allow the friendly form to be converted back to its normal URL form, since that is the form expected by the Web server. 

http://site.com/product/rvdsfpid/shoe-3

While the friendly URL is already a respectable form optimized for search engines and computers, it still contains gibberish data that are undesirable to human. Revindex Storefront 7.3 now includes an advanced URL provider that automatically rewrites your catalog URLs into even shorter and human friendlier form:

http://site.com/product/shoe

Clearly, the new form is a more human friendly representation of the product over the previous URLs. For the user on the Web browser, it's short to type, easy enough to remember and one can easily swap the keyword "shoe" for another product like "shirt" to locate the next product.

Once again, the challenge of rewriting the URL requires that all of the information can somehow be reversed back to its original normal URL form. We must, therefore, rely on certain strict rules to provide the mechanics to unwind the information. Such rules include the placement of the keyword in the URL path segments, the uniqueness of the "shoe" keyword and among other rules.

From a merchant perspective, you only need to ensure your product keywords are unique. By default, the keyword is chosen from your product name. If, however, a SEO URL name is provided, it will be used in place of the product name. If you have a collision in your product name or SEO URL name, the rewriter will reverse the friendly URL to the first product it found. It is, therefore, extremely important that you give unique product names or unique SEO URL names to your products when using the advanced URL provider. A good name should include just the right amount of keywords to allow for optimal search engine indexing while keeping it short and meangingful for humans. For example, the keywords "genuine leather shoe" provides a richer indexing information while keeping your product URL names sufficiently unique and short. Please see SEO for more information.

The advanced URL provider is not limited to products only. It also optimizes for categories, manufacturers, distributors and variants. Similarly, you want to make sure these catalog structures have unique names throughout your system.

http://site.com/products/apparels

http://site.com/product/apparels/shoe

http://site.com/product/apparels/shoe/brown

What happens to my old URL?

Your old URLs whether they are bookmarked or indexed by search engines will continue to function because the advanced URL provider is meant to be convertible between the two forms. 

Do I need to notify search engines?

It is not necessary since the Storefront will automatically generate canonical hints and sitemap to search engines such that over time, when the crawler bots revisit, they will start indexing and replacing your old URLs with the new ones.

What happens if I disable advanced URL provider?

Any short friendly URL generated by the advanced URL provider will not be recognized once disabled since there is no engine to rewrite back to the normal URL form. Fortunately, the Storefront automatically publishes sitemap of your products and search engines are usually quite fast to pick up URL changes after a few visits.

How do I verify for unique keywords?

Firstly, you should have a business procedure for naming your products so that you and your staff is aware of the naming convention that minimizes conflicts to begin with. Once the procedure is in place, you only need to occasionally verify for correctness. The easiest way to visually inspect them is to export out the catalog data and glance through the keywords using Excel.

How to enable the advanced URL provider

By default, the advanced URL provider is enabled on new installations. If not, you can follow the steps below to enable it:

  1. Change the urlFormat attribute to "advanced" in your Web.config

    <add name="DNNFriendlyUrl" type="DotNetNuke.Services.Url.FriendlyUrl.DNNFriendlyUrlProvider, DotNetNuke.HttpModules" includePageName="true" regexMatch="a-zA-Z0-9 _-" urlFormat="advanced"/>

  2. Under Admin > Site Settings page, make sure the Revindex Storefront URL Extension Provider is enabled under the Advanced URL Settings tab.

Are there other settings that I can tweak?

No additional settings are required. There is an unsupported 3rd party DNN URL Management module that provides a user interface for managing general settings for the DNN advanced URL rewriter that you may want to investigate.

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