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For re-writing URLs to generate SEO friendly pretty URLs, it was usually recommended to use the ending extension (normally .html), as without the extension, the URL seems to be incomplete. Probably, because a webpage should be similar to a file (as actually is) rather than folder. And it was the method used by almost all websites.

However, I have been recently noticed that major content websites have removed the html extension from the end of URL. This is the case of stackexchange projects too.

Is it beneficial to remove the html extension? Or it has been convinced that it is useless and it is prettier to have URL without extension?

  • Where have you seen that it is better to add an extension? Google article or didn't happen! :-) – PeeHaa Dec 16 '11 at 8:24
  • I don't remember but I it was the case in many SEO forum discussions. Moreover, if you look back, almost all websites were using html extension. – Googlebot Dec 16 '11 at 8:25
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    if you look back you will find lots of website who used a query string (?id=1). To answer your question it doesn't matter at all what you do. – PeeHaa Dec 16 '11 at 8:30
  • Using query string is disadvantageous for SEO (due to the absence of keywords in the url). However, I am curious to discover the recent "tendency" towards url without extension. – Googlebot Dec 16 '11 at 8:39
  • No a query string isn't disadvantageous because missing keywords in the url. It is disadvantageous because it is a query string (and the keyword may be in the params). Most search-engines don't use the part after the question mark. – PeeHaa Dec 16 '11 at 9:23
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The only benefit to keep it is for consistency (you have an large number of existing URLs that you don't want to have to add an unnecessary 301 redirect to).

The only reason to remove it is for flexibility - e.g. What happens if you want to move your site to .aspx, or .php, or .shtml?

There's NO SEO benefit to removing the filetype extension. It does make URLs (slightly) shorter, and less imposing to web n00bs, but that's about it.

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    Many people do it to hide the platform they're using (just like they change HTTP replies to conceal or misidentify their server configuration). – Lèse majesté Dec 16 '11 at 8:40
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I don't think you should mix up term such as "folder" and "file" with web addresses (URIs to be more correct). In other words, web pages ending width .html are not (necessarily) files and ending without them are (most likely) not folders.

Also you could have addresses ending with .php, .jsp, .aspx or .mycustomextension. It doesn't matter to the visitor of your website.

As such I personally find any extension part redundant and obfuscating the actual meaning of the particular URI.

On the other hand a URI can represent a physical file on a web server. In such case .html is there for a reason. For dynamic pages extensionless URIs are more user (and SEO I think) friendly.

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