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Windows URL Rewriting – How to rewrite for Windows

Isapi RewriteBeing .NET developers, we have always had the problem of rewriting URL’s. Websites hosted on an Apache web server have no problem as you have the use of the .htaccess file, a file which has many uses, including the ability to rewrite URL’s.

If you are not sure what URL rewriting is to begin with, it is the process of changing a URL’s appearance, usually to shorter and cleaner URL. The reason for doing this usually comes back to the topic of Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO. URL’s that are shorter in length, are words rather then numbers, and are words that relate to the content of the page are not only going to benefit you massively through SEO, but the URL’s will be much easier for your users to remember and type in. There are many other uses and reasons to rewrite URL’s that people use however I won’t go into detail here.

Now back to my point of this post which is rewriting URL’s for a Windows server! We use a product called Isapi Rewrite, which gives you much of the ability that Apaches mod_Rewrite does however for a Windows server (IIS). Unlike Apaches mod_Rewrite Isapi Rewrite does come at a cost, although for around $100 USD it is well worth the investment. Once you have purchased and installed the product, you are then able to start URL rewriting.

One of our clients, homebuildingonline.com.au recently employed us to perform the internet marketing for their website. One section of their website sells building courses online, and like most shopping carts is built on the back of a database. Before we began our work, all of the course product URL’s looked similar to this:

www.homebuildingonline.com.au/cpd-courses.aspx?id=31

As you can see this URL is not only very hard to remember, but by looking at it you would not be able to tell what product it is linking to. What we did was rewrite the URL to be much more meaningfull and better for SEO, so what we rewrote the URL to was:

www.homebuildingonline.com.au/cpd-courses/novice-building-guide.aspx

You ask yourself which URL you would rather have.

Before I go I will give you one more quick example of what you can do using the software. This technique enables you to create multiple websites using one physical site, which obviously would save you money on hosting fees. Here is how you do it.

Suppose you have two domains that you own, www.mydomain1.com and www.mydomain2.com, and you want to host both sites using the one hosting account. You would simply add the following code to your httpd.ini file:

#Fix missing slash char on folders
RewriteCond Host: (.*)
RewriteRule ([^.?]+[^.?/]) http\://$1$2/ [I,R]

#Emulate site1
RewriteCond Host: (?:www\.)?mydomain1\.com
RewriteRule (.*) /site1$1 [I,L]

#Emulate site2
RewriteCond Host: (?:www\.)?mydomain2\.com
RewriteRule (.*) /site2$1 [I,L]

Then…. you simply have 2 folders in your root directory /mydomain1 and /mydomain2 and store the the two websites in each directory.

There are many other uses to the software then what I have described here, and full documentation can be found on the Isapi website.

Onpoint Creations performs URL rewriting for many clients, and if you need help or think you could benefit from the use of this software or, would like to speak with a staff member please contact us.

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