At times SEO seems like a dark art, but some improvements are simple. When setting up this Wordpress blog, one of the first things I did was change the permalink structure from the default permalinks (like /?p=123) to include a slug in the URL (like <something>/jruby-support-for-rails/). Unfortunately for WordPress the more expressive URLs don’t work in all environments, and so aren’t the default. Search engines give a fair amount of weight to the words in URLs when deciding the relevance of the page. Sites that search engines drive traffic to tend to have long URLs that rank highly on Google.

Rails developers have taken notice recently and documented techniques for how to fit SEO-friendly URLs into the existing routing mechanism. The more descriptive, “ugly”, URL style leads to URLs that, while stable and perhaps readable, are not pronounceable nor easily memorable. So while /blog/post/15 might look cleaner and “prettier”, what does it matter if no one finds your site? I’ve fallen for this trap in the past, but now I get that being ugly sometimes has better survival characteristics than being pretty.