A URL rewrite is a serverside process that takes a long and/or complicated URL and transforms it into a short, clean version that users remember, and have no trouble reading or writing when needed. Basically, URLs are just web addresses that show the location of a resource. But usually, they come with not so user – or search engine for that matter – friendly names.
For example, a newly added page could have the URL http://wiredelta.com/?page_id=16825. As expected, not only that neither the user nor the crawlers have any clue what this page is about, but it’s confusing and forgettable.
How does URL rewrite work?
So, the URL rewrite function simply puts a layer on top of the original address and turns it into something easy to find and that makes sense. Thus, turning http://wiredelta.com/?page_id=16825 into wiredelta.com/url-rewrite, for example. From a user perspective, when a URL rewrite occurs the URL of the website remains the same in the browser and they are none the wiser. But behind the scenes, the browser rewrites the URL back into that complicated mess and sends a query to the servers.
URL rewrites are also extremely useful when the server structure is changed and resources are moved from one folder to another. In this situation, a sysadmin will simply rewrite the part the user-friendly URL is pointing to. Basically, since the resource was moved, it will have a different location, therefore, a rewrite is needed to point wiredelta.com/url-rewrite to the new location of the resource. This is not to be confused with Redirect functions which occur when a resource was replaced by a different resource.
URL Rewrite vs Redirect
Unlike URL rewrites, a redirect is a client-side action, not a server-side. Basically, a rewrite happens when the address of the resource changes, or we need a simpler, more user-friendly “layer” on top. This happens behind the scenes, and the user is unaware of it. In comparison, a redirect happens when the resource no longer exists. For example, imagine a user wants to access wiredelta.com/SEO-tips, but that article doesn’t exist anymore. Instead, the user is redirected to wiredelta.com/digital-marketing-tips and they can see that in the browser.
Redirects can also happen when we predict how a user will try and access a resource and set up redirect functions to ensure they reach the resource properly. For example, WWW resolve is a redirect action through which, no matter how the user searches for the Wiredelta home page – using the WWW. before the domain name or not – they will always land on wiredelta.com. Another example is when we acquire related domains or typo domains to ensure the integrity of our brand.
Why is URL rewrite good for SEO
There are several benefits of using a URL rewrite. For one, URL rewrites help with accessibility and improved user experience. Simply put, when a user looks at a URL in a search engine result, they don’t have to figure out what that page or article is about. Also, in general, messy URLs could lead to a lower click-through rate, which is generally bad for SEO.
Secondly, user-friendly URLs help with content optimization for SEO. Basically, a URL including the title of the article and the focus keyword will help with your Google indexing and the bots perception of your article or web page. As a result, SEO optimized URLs through URL rewrite lead to better visibility, higher credibility with your users, and naturally higher traffic volume.
Aside from that, using URL rewrites also helps to maintain consistency in your URL path and page name structure. And finally, rewrites also help with performance through user-mode caching, and troubleshooting since it supports Failed Request Tracing.