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Should I use a file extension or not?

I know this question has been asked before on Stack Overflow, but what I have not been able to find in the posts I've read are concrete references as to WHY one is better than the other (something I can take to my boss).

So I'm working on an MVC 3 application that is basically a rewrite of the existing production application (web forms) using MVC. The current site uses a URL rewriter to rewrite "friendly" urls with HTML extensions to their ASPX counterpart.

i.e. http://www.site.com/products/18554-widget.html gets rewritten to http://www.site.com/products.aspx?id=18554

We're moving away from this with the MVC site, but the powers that be still want the HTML extension on the URLs. As a developer, that just feels wrong on an MVC site. I've written a quick and dirty HttpModule that will perform a 301 redirect from the .html URL to the same URL without the .html extension and it works fine, but I need to convince management that removing the .html extension is not going to hurt SEO. I'd prefer to have this sort of friendly URL:


Can anyone provide information to back up my position or am I actually trying to do something that WOULD hurt SEO, in which case can you provide references on that?


I'm no SEO expert so don't take my word for it, but: SEO is about coupling search terms to your pages so that your pages will show up as high as possible in the search results. By repeating a term in both the url, the title, an h1 tag, the body text and possibly in meta tags, your page is supposed to score higher than one that only has the term in one of these places. Now how would having .html in the url change this? Unless of course html is the search term. And what about those sites that use another extension such as .php, .aspx etc.? If pages were scored differently based on the extension, I would think it would have been quite a big of deal (i mean wouldn't that potentially favor one platform/framework over another)? And take a look at some other web sites. What does stackoverflow do? What does google themselves do? I don't see any .html extesions there. To me, that says it all.

Just my 5 cents, anyway.

  • That's essentially what I'm getting at. I agree with your take on .html extensions having no real value, but I need concrete references on that to take to my boss who is of the opinion that having a .html extension does add value. I've searched Google and I've found lots of anecdotal information, but I thought some SEO experts might have something more concrete than that. – Scott Schluer Dec 28 '10 at 21:23
  • Actually, your point about Stack Overflow, Google, etc. not using that approach may help. I didn't think to point out that I haven't seen any other major sites employing that strategy. – Scott Schluer Dec 28 '10 at 21:27
  • No, it won't hurt your SEO (Well, it SHOULDN'T). But - think about this for a while, and you'll make the right decision. A factor in any good SEO campaign is making it easy for the search engines to know exactly what type of document they are indexing... So, logically, including an extension may prove to be beneficial. – Jason Dec 29 '10 at 10:11
  • Document types are decoupled from URL file extensions a long time ago. – Halil Özgür Nov 15 '11 at 13:50

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