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Which file ending is better?

Some webmasters wonder whether they should use .htm or .html as the file extension for their web pages. Rumor has it that some file extensions make it more difficult to get indexed by search engines.

Which file extension should you use for your web pages?

From a search engine optimization point of view, it doesn't matter which file extension you use for your web pages. As long as the content of your web pages can be indexed by search engines, search engines will try to index it.

What's the official Google statement?

Google has posted an official statement regarding this matter:

"At Google, we are able to index most types of pages and files with very few exceptions. File types we are able to index include: pdf, asp, jsp, html, shtml, xml, cfm, doc, xls, ppt, rtf, wks, lwp, wri, swf."

How can you make it easier for search engine spiders to index your site?

Although the file extension is not important, there are some things you can do to make it easier for search engine spiders to index your web site.

1. Don't make search engines spiders have to think

Search engine spiders are very simply software programs that follow links on web pages and that index the contents of web pages. If the file extension doesn't make it clear what type of web page the spider has to expect, it might not index it properly.

If a text file starts with code that looks like PDF, a search engine spider might try to convert it to HTML although there is nothing to convert. Never make search engine spiders have to think. They might get it wrong.

2. Don't use fancy HTML code

As mentioned above, search engine spiders are very simple programs. If you hide the content of your web pages in fancy flash elements or JavaScript code, chances are that search engines cannot index it.

Search engine spiders cannot execute JavaScript code. If the links to the other pages of your web site are hidden in JavaScript menus, search engines won't find it. Dynamically created pages can also cause problems.

3. Follow the standards

It really helps if you web site is compliant to the W3C standards. Search engine spiders are built on these standards. If your web site is compliant to these standards, search engine spiders can index it without problems. We've published an article about this topic some time ago.

4. Tell search engines what your web site is all about

If you want to be found for special search terms on search engines, you should make sure that your web pages are optimized for these search terms.

Only web pages that are optimized for special search terms can have good rankings for them. Optimized pages make it much easier for search engine spiders to determine what your web site is all about.

It doesn't matter which file extension you use for your web pages. However, you should make it as easy as possible for search engine spiders. The less a spider has to think when indexing your web site, the more likely it is that your web pages will be properly indexed.

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January 2005 search engine articles