Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Getting the Cruft out of URLs

Which URL do you find more meaningful?



And when MovableType 3.0 comes out, and with the the ability to extend fields and tables, I’m going to port all of the data from blogs4God into MT and render the URLs so they’re not as ‘crufty.’ Why? Glad you asked. Here’s one answer I found at the Weblog of Matthew Thomas:

“Don’t use the ? character, like b2 and pMachine do. ? should be avoided for any persistent resource, one whose content will remain much the same from month to month – like a Weblog entry, for example. Unless a resource with ? in its URI is heavily linked-to, search engines will avoid it, because it’s likely to be just one node in a very large (or infinite) nonsense site. This is why, for example, Brian Tiemann’s Weblog is hardly indexed by Google.”

Oli at Boblet notes some important human factors as well:

“… the URL should be:

  • easy to type
  • easy to remember
  • short if possible
  • ‘hackable’ ie predictable enough to guess
  • and permanent”

Good advice whether you’re using MT or some other blogging, publishing or content ‘manglement’ system. The point here is, regardless of which system you prefer, learn how to customize your URLs so they’re not ‘crufty.’ This may even include the drastic step of actually reading the manual.

So here’s how I do it in MT. As you can tell from the gap between this article and my last, I’ve been preparing for a trip to Jordan where I hope to blog my experiences. So the trick for me is getting MovableType to save archive files with soemthing other than the ID number of the post (as I do here at HYCW).

So where was I, oh yes, what I do in MT. In the 3rd panel of the configuration screen, appropriately naemd Archive Options, I employ the following templates:

Individual: <MTEntryCategory dirify=”1″>/<$MTEntryDate format=”%Y%m%d”$>_<MTEntryTitle dirify=”1″>.php
Monthly: <$MTEntryDate format=”%B%Y” dirify=”1″$>.php
Category: <MTArchiveCategory dirify=”1″>/index.php

I also have to make sure that my ‘Core Setup’ configuraiton establishes the ‘Local Archive Path’ directory the same as the ‘Local Sie Path,’ e.g. :

As I mentioned earlier, while my examples are MT specific, any decent blogging, publishing or CMS system should allow you to customize your file paths. And if they don’t, there’s always mod_rewrite.

Now the question/trick is, how do I apply this to well-indexed Heal Your Church Website? Perhaps A List Apart can teach me ‘How to Succeed with URLs‘ ?


  1. it may be worth using the MTIfEmpty plugin around the MTCategories tag, incase you decide not to use a category.

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  3. This might be something done in a later version of Word Press although I do use version 1.0 and 1.1 isn’t official, but I do know that some Word Press users use example “A” for links. I’m willing to guess some people have played around with the mod-rewrite to have the links like they do. One person even made a comment about being the second link listed in Google three days after posting an article.

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  6. Dean, I have this up and working at my site (http://www.sillypuppies.com/jesse/blog/) which I use as a test bed before moving things to my churches site. Thanks for the great site!

    Here’s the question: On my side bar, I list the 5 most recent comments with a link back to the original post. However, the code I have used the numbered URLs, not the new friendly ones. Can you tell me how to alter this code:



    to keep the sidebar listings?

    The anchor needs to be changed, but I can’t find a MTtag that will give me the URL of entry the comment is coming from.

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