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I found a similar question here which gave this as a duplicate, but it deals specifically with parameters in the URL, whereas I am interested in the URL disregarding query strings.

For example, how much of a difference would it make for the same article to be of form:

www.example.com/how-to-mow-the-lawn-without-getting-wet-feet

vs

www.example.com/articles/238483

If it's easy to implement the former, should it be done, or does it make little/no difference?

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The degree to which is important us up for debate but to strong consensus in my circles is having appropriate keywords in the URL are significantly beneficial. Your first format is better from an SEO POV.

A common compromise is a format like https://www.example.com/12345/description-here can give you the best if both worlds by having an ID for the server (which ignores the end bit) and the keywords for the server.

The how depends on the web server and programming language and can't be easily answered. In the broadest terms you get the web server to push any requests through a single script which decodes the URL and pulls the appropriate content.

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  • Although it's obvious now, the simple strategy of using both an ID and dash separated article title didn't occur to me (I defaulted to thinking it must be one or the other, which, in the framework I'm using, it's not!). On the SEO front, is there any indicative data on how important the words are in the url? For example, would it be something an SEO expert would push hard for, or is it a 'nice to have'? – stevec Jan 18 at 1:10
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    I think it depends on the SEO expert, but a decent SEO person would push to do as much right as possible because Google don't publish their algorithm and regularly change it. Also, most decent platforms (including this one !) have good support for it. – davidgo Jan 18 at 1:54
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    Any stable URL structure can have decent SEO regardless of whether it has descriptive keywords. However a descriptive URL is demonstrably better for usability. Better usability gives you a leg up in SEO. Descriptive URLs are going to be better for SEO. Any SEO advantage to better URLs will be modest. – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 18 at 2:39

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