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There is no reason to conclude that using PHP could make websites less SEO friendly

Posted on Posted in PHP Web Development

Only when search engines can find sites easily, it becomes more visible to users. However, visibility will not happen on its own unless you optimise the website features so that search engines find it easy to crawl the website. This would lead to the quick indexing of web pages, which is a pre-requisite for finding your site quickly.

With fast indexing in mind, web developers prefer to use HTML for creating web pages because the scripting language has features that speed up indexing. Although web designers are fond of using HTML, web developers who are responsible for the functionalities of websites would prefer to use PHP, the server-side scripting language.  The choice of the scripting language is crucial because it forms the backbone of sites. While web designers choose the language to make websites more attractive, web developers are keen to make websites highly functional. Among various server-side languages like ASP, JSP, ASP.NET, PHP and RUBY, web developers are fond of using PHP. PHP makes it easy to create and manage many web pages as it can create web pages very fast by extracting information from the database.

HTML is SEO friendly

Search engines find HTML pages easy to crawl and it is only natural that web developers are also keen to stick to HTML to impart SEO friendly characteristics to websites. However, the server-side scripting language does not matter to search engines because even if you are using PHP, the output contains pure HTML source code for any web page. Using PHP for websites is therefore not at all detrimental because it does not affect the crawlability of the search engine bots. This is the reason when SEO companies offer the best SEO quotes they do not care about the language used for web development.

Why is PHP attractive to developers?

  • PHP is a server-side scripting language available from the open source meaning that you can use it free.
  • PHP enjoys high popularity among web developers because of its simplicity of use and value. It is very easy to work with PHP that you can use for creating SEO friendly websites, and it takes less time to write the language.
  • PHP has a wide range of functionalities and can support 700 functions that allow developers to deal with mail delivery, error handling, XML, parser, file system etc. Effectively it adds to the comfort of programmers, as they do not have to code too many lines for a website.
  • PHP is highly versatile and capable of supporting both free as well as paid database systems, thereby making it cost effective too. PHP developers can make use of database options like MySQL, PostgreSQL, Sybase, Oracle, and Informix as well as generic ODBC productive database options.
  • For increasing the SEO friendliness of websites, developers can use some scripts and extended applications with PHP. The scripting language PHP is more open to AJAX, JS and other alternative extensions.
  • PHP has excellent browser and server compatibility as you can use it across all platforms because both IIS and Apache servers support it very well.

Thus, PHP is the language of choice for developers to interact with the database, create dynamic content etc.

Making PHP search engine friendly

Despite various advantages of PHP, its search engine friendly aspect is sometimes a suspect among developers. However, it is possible to turn it search engine friendly by some clever tweaking that could help to maintain its dominance in SEO.  When you can do the tweaking intelligently, it might even make PHP appears a different script altogether. It could look like one or many HTML files for one and every content on your website that are easy to index by search engines.

Is PHP a hurdle for Google indexing?

There is a perception among many people that Google finds it a bit awkward to handle PHP during indexing and there are chances that it would leave out dynamically generate pages from indexing.  You should know that there is hardly any truth in it because it is just a myth.  The fact is that Google is capable of indexing dynamically generated PHP pages as well as PHP pages containing content dynamically generated. There was a time way back in 2006 when Google had expressed difficulty in handling URLs with some specific strings like ‘&id=’ but never did it say anything about PHP or dynamically generated pages. This declaration gradually became distorted and gave rise to a perception that Google is unable to index pages processed by PHP.  Let us now understand what means by dynamically generated pages and pages with dynamically generated content.

 Pages with dynamic content

Suppose there is a file named faqs.php and contains PHP code for performing a certain function. Perhaps, the code can access the database, extract a list of FAQs and display it on the screen. Here, the page is non- dynamic, but it generates dynamic content. In this case, the role of PHP is to deliver consistently only the FAQs to users. Google does index such pages successfully and has never had any problems with it because of PHP.  PHP is active within the server, and the search engine spiders are not at all concerned about what happens behind the scenes as long as the content reaches the search engine or browser after compilation in the server.

Dynamically generated pages

Now let us consider a file named index.php that has a query string ‘index.php? page=faqs’.  The result of using the script is that it would produce a dynamically generated page. When displaying content, the script does not restrict itself to FAQs only, but also it could extend to contact us, terms of use and about us page. The PHP script could thus encompass the entire website. Google had earlier faced problems with this type of pages, but it seems that those days are now gone.

As you can understand, PHP is not a concern for Google, but it does matter how you use PHP for scripting websites.