rewrite question

I've recently been helped by my web host to do a url rewrite.  It's not the first time, so each new one has to be respidered.  The last time used underscores to represent where spaces would be between words.  The database was based on cities and states.  Because some cities have multiple states..  that is, there are different states with a city by the same name, I discovered after the last rewrite that people were being sent to the correct city in the wrong state sometimes.  

So now, that problem is resolved, but I'm wondering if the manner in which it was resolved will be productive or counterproductive to my efforts to be search engine friendly.  now, detail pages read www.mydomain.com/keyword.city_name.AB.html   where AB=the two-letterabbreviation for the state.

It works, it has the cityname, but it has all these "."s

How does that compare to having a city name following www.mydomain.com/keyword/city.html  ?

In that case, the detail page was twice removed in directories from the home page.  Should I seek a better solution?
linqueAsked:
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DoppyNLCommented:
I don't know what keyword is, but I suspect it is a search parameter of some kind?!?

I would use this format:
http://www.mydomain.com/AB/city/keyword/
I would even drop the .html ! (doesn't matter for search engine's, as they suspect you are returning something like an index.html

But in reality it doesn't really matter in what order those parameters are, crawlers really aren't that smart as humans are. They simply look at links that point to pages and so on.
if there is a . or not in the url doesn't matter, it will simply be seen as a part of a dir-name or file-name.

a plus to use a / instead of a . is that some crawlers might realise that it is a sub-dir and may suspect a relation between those subpages; causing a better ranking on other subdirs...

Do keep away from these characters though:
? = & ' " ` ; : { } < > ( ) ! @ # % * [ ] \ + (space)
why? because they can cause all kinds of troubles.
Some are used in crawler software wich causes problems with indexing your pages
Some are used on forums, wich cause problems when displaying urls
Some are common characters wich causes word processing software to cut of your url to early.
Some are `banned` by crawlers because they show that the page is dynamic
and more


>> In that case, the detail page was twice removed in directories from the home page.
What do you mean with this?
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duzCommented:
linque -

>...productive or counterproductive...

I haven't got a definitive answer for this one! I can say that I have seen sites in top positions with   www.mydomain.com/keyword.keyword.keyword/ directory names so they must be ok in some circumstances. On the other hand the conventional opinion is that using "."s in a directory name as far as search engine bots are concerned is asking for trouble.

>How does that compare to having a city name following www.mydomain.com/keyword/city.html  ?

Subject to the jury being still out on the "."s it should be better because the pages are now one less down from the root directory.

My inclination would be to leave it as it is and see what the bots do with it from the server logs but there has to be a small element of risk associated with that approach.

Sorry I can't be more helpful :(

- duz

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linqueAuthor Commented:
Thank you both!   And your comments are always very helpful duz!

I just wish the changes did not result in lost time as they seem to.  I'll probably sit it out as you suggested, duz.  
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duzCommented:
DoppyNL -

>> In that case, the detail page was twice removed in directories from the home page.
>What do you mean with this?

I think linque is working on the correct assumption that, everything else being equal, shallow directory depth is crawler friendly and gets indexed faster although the depth makes no difference to the index itself. The google algo of course considers link depth and not directory depth.

- duz

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