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I'm using Drupal with search engine friendly URLs. The way Drupal works is that there's two ways to reference a node with SEF URLS switched on:

  1. The SEF way, eg. http://example.com/blog/the-answer-to-life
  2. Via the node ID, eg. http://example.com/node/42

(The second form issues a 301 to the first.)

The first path can be changed quickly and easily, the second is fixed (for the lifetime of the site or node). I'm not suggesting it's a good idea for websites to change their paths on a regular basis, but it's something that might happen, so it occurred to me that I could use the second form as a canonical URL, and that would mean that the same page would be always correctly indexed, and would always retain its Page Rank etc.

Could folk help list the pros and cons of such an approach?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

My understanding is that words within the URL that match search terms are considered "good quality" matches.

I certainly see lots of matches based on URL when I go searching for technology specific answers involving Jargon.

By using the node id link instead of a content-based URL, I think you'll match less well, if only marginally. But, I have no references to back up my understanding.

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You could also do what stackoverflow does, which is a hybrid approach:


That way you've got a page that has the title in the url, but has a permanent piece of identifying info there as well (the question id). This way the title can be changed, and users arriving at the old URL can get redirected to the new one. In fact, you can put ANYTHING in the question title area after the question ID and arrive at a valid page. The page they serve points to the current url (including the current page title) as the canonical copy, but they don't redirect you.

This approach seems to be VERY SEO friendly, while still allowing article titles to change. It might be hard to implement in drupal though.

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Thanks, yeah that's a good idea. (And I don't think it would be difficult to implement in Drupal.) – Andy Oct 21 '10 at 11:39

Everything Bevan said is true.

Your best bet is to use 301 redirects from the old URL to the new one just like Drupal does with the note ID to the SEF url.

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