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The Technology website Ars Technica has adjusted their URL rewrite rules to end with a .ars. Traditionally, sites have taken advantage of this URL rewriting capability to completely eliminate file suffixes like .html, .php, .aspx etc, under the theory that this made for better SEO (since the content of the URL was more relevant to the content)

Ars Technica's, though, look like this:

http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/03/flow-from-the-poles-drive-sunspot-levels.ars

So, is Ars Technica adding the .ars file suffix purely a vanity play? Or is it an SEO trick to improve the site's SEO by cleverly inserting their site name into every URL slug?

And, if this is indeed an effective SEO trick, should other sites follow suit?

EDIT: Kurt from Ars Technica has (apparently) chimed in in the comments to add

"Just cuz" is correct! They're not exactly rewrite rules, though. We actually have files named ".ars". The irony of my linked post is that they're PHP...

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

According to Kurt himself, it was basically just cuz.

And I'd personally question whether search engines consider URLs' file extensions as "words" for search purposes, though I'm not sure I've run across definitive evidence either way on that.

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They do use file extensions as words. Just search for anything with php in the search term. –  John Conde Mar 3 '11 at 1:52
    
I doubt it would be any different than having /ars/ in the querystring –  Neil McGuigan Mar 3 '11 at 2:12
    
@John Conde Granted, but I'm still not sure that's too good an example, as PHP itself has common use as a "word" anyway and is in heavy use in all the top results. Now, if we test this with "cfm" the theory doesn't seem to hold up nearly as well. [Insert standard "limit how much time you spend speculating about search algorithms" disclaimer here.] –  Su' Mar 3 '11 at 4:38
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"Just cuz" is correct! They're not exactly rewrite rules, though. We actually have files named ".ars". The irony of my linked post is that they're PHP... –  MrKurt Mar 3 '11 at 15:09
    
If I were Google I would strip out from all SERP any url that ends with an uncommon suffix like .ars or any other crap. I'm not looking forward for a new type of WEB with millions of websites urls packed with .someseokeyword extension just because webmasters start thinking they do rank better in SERP. –  Marco Demaio Mar 3 '11 at 18:16
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