Master the art of URL rewriting: definition and challenges of this essential practice

by our SEO Agency Optimize 360

The world of the web is growing every day, bringing with it a gigantic amount of shared information and pages to explore.

To enable Internet users to surf this virtual ocean and to facilitate referencing by search engines, the technique of the URL rewriting is a real asset to master.

But what exactly does this mean? What are the challenges associated with this method? In this article, you will discover the definition and all the implications of URL rewriting.

URL Rewriting

Definition of URL rewriting

It all starts with the concept of the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The URL designates the exact location of a resource on the Internet (web page, image, file, etc.) and enables Internet users to access it easily.

However, some URLs can be long, complex or contain random strings of characters that are difficult to understand either for the user or for the search engines as Google.

This is where the URL rewriting comes into play. This technique consists of transforming these complex URLs into short, readable and relevant addresses for web users and search engines. So, thanks to rewriting, you get a better user experience and above all, a better natural referencing (SEO).

The main challenges of URL rewriting

Improving the user experience

The first benefit of URL rewriting is, of course, a better user experience. The rewritten addresses are shorter, more comprehensible and give a clear idea of the content of the referenced page. When surfing the Internet, it's always more pleasant to consult legible URLs rather than strings of characters with no apparent meaning.

Encouraging sharing and memorisation

A concise and clear URL also reinforces the memorization and the share of the page concerned on social networks or by email. Internet users are more inclined to share a link whose content they can easily understand than an obscure address with a code that is difficult to decipher.

Optimising natural referencing (SEO)

One of the major challenges of URL rewriting is to improve natural search engine optimisation. By making URLs intelligible, coherent and relevant, we make the work of search engines much easier. indexing robots Google and other search engines, which can then better understand the content of each web page and optimise their ranking in search results.

What's more, by inserting relevant keywords in rewritten URLs, we can considerably boost the visibility and attractiveness of our pages to users. For example, for a recipe on a blog for cooking, having the URL "" will be much more effective in terms of SEO than " ?id=234".

How do I set up URL rewriting?

Depending on the content management system (CMS) that you use, there are several methods for rewriting URLs:

  1. Use the CMS parameters : certain CMS such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal allow you to directly modify the internal settings in order to adopt a URL format that is better suited to SEO. In this case, simply go to the CMS options to activate this feature.
  2. Use an additional module : dedicated extensions can be installed on your CMS to optimise URL rewriting. For example, for WordPress, the plugin Yoast SEO is often recommended to improve the natural referencing of pages, including their URL.
  3. Write your own rewriting rules manually : for those with sufficient technical skills, it is also possible to establish the rewriting rules directly in the .htaccess file of the web server hosting your website. This method offers great flexibility in configuring your URLs, but requires a good command of regular expressions and the programming language concerned (PHP, ASP.NET...).

What are the best practices for successful URL rewriting?

To optimise your URL rewriting, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Think readability and relevance: Make sure that your rewritten URLs are short, understandable and related to the content of the page. Prioritise important keywords and avoid special characters or random numbers wherever possible.
  • Favouring hierarchy : don't hesitate to prioritise your URL addresses according to the content and categories of your website. For example, a fashion blog might have an address such as "", which clearly suggests the site's structure and theme.
  • Maintaining consistency and uniqueness: make sure that each URL address corresponds to a single web page. In addition, harmonise the use of your keywords and their arrangement in all your addresses in order to maintain a certain logic for Internet users and search engines.
  • Don't forget the redirects: when setting up your URL rewriting, make sure you configure the 301 redirects from your old URLs to the new ones. This step is crucial so that you don't lose the benefit of your existing natural referencing and avoid any risk of penalties from the search engines in the event of a flaw in the management of redirections.

Finally, it's worth remembering that although URL rewriting is an important part of SEO, it's not the whole story: think about optimising your content too, meta tags and other technical aspects to teach good visibility on search engines.

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