SEO Friendly URL’s in Sitecore

As silly as it seams to the average developer, URL’s are an important factor when it comes to SEO. As ridiculous as some of the requirements are (like not having spaces in a URL) they are unfortunately requirements that we have to live with. Here’s how to deal with not having upper case letters in a URL, replacing spaces with hyphens and getting rid of that pesky aspx extension.

Removing Spaces from a URL

A space in a URL actually gets translated to %20, which for the average user isn’t very readable. I would argue that as well as doing the translation, browsers could actually just hide this fact from users, and Google could also hide it as well. But alas that hasn’t happened and the accepted solution is to replace spaces with a hyphen.

Within a patch config file add the following:

    <encodeNameReplacements>
      <replace mode="on" find=" " replaceWith="-" />
    </encodeNameReplacements>

What this will do is replace every space in an items name with a hyphen as links are rendered. When a request comes into Sitecore it will also replace all hyphens with a space, so that the URL’s still resolve.

However this does cause a problem for any items you have that already had a hyphen in them. Sadly the best we can do for this is to stop content editors including hyphens in item names with the following config patch:

    <settings>
      <setting name="InvalidItemNameChars">
        <patch:attribute name="value">\/:?&quot;&lt;&gt;|[]-</patch:attribute>
      </setting>
    </settings>

Make URLs all lower case

Believe it or not URL’s are actually case sensitive. Maybe not in the Windows / IIS world, but with Linux and the rest of the web they are. So the simplest solution is to make all the URL’s on the site lower case.

Sitecore 6.6 and above

If your using Sitecore 6.6 or above then you in luck, there’s a config setting on the linkManager to set all urls to lower case

    <linkManager defaultProvider="sitecore">
      <providers>
        <add name="sitecore">
          <patch:attribute name="lowercaseUrls">true</patch:attribute>
        </add>
      </providers>
    </linkManager>

Sitecore 6.5 and below

If you using 6.5 or below you need to do a little more work.

One way is using the same encodeNameReplacements config as we used before and replace every upper case letter in the alphabet with the lower case equivalent.


    <encodeNameReplacements>
      <replace mode="on" find="A" replaceWith="a" />
      <replace mode="on" find="B" replaceWith="b" />
      <replace mode="on" find="C" replaceWith="c" />
      <replace mode="on" find="D" replaceWith="d" />
    </encodeNameReplacements>

Personally this doesn’t seen the nicest solution and I expect will lead to a lot of replace functions being called.

Another solution is to create a class that overrides the Sitecores LinkProvider and simply makes the result of GetItemUrl lowercase

namespace YourNamespace.Providers
{
    public class LinkProvider : Sitecore.Links.LinkProvider
    {
        public override string GetItemUrl(Sitecore.Data.Items.Item item, Sitecore.Links.UrlOptions urlOptions)
        {
            return base.GetItemUrl(item, urlOptions).ToLower();
        }
    }
}

And then add a patch config to tell Sitecore to use your LinkManager rather than the default.

    <linkManager defaultProvider="sitecore">
      <providers>
        <add name="sitecore">
          <patch:attribute name="type">YourNamespace.Providers.LinkProvider, YourProjectName</patch:attribute>
        </add>
      </providers>
    </linkManager>

Getting rid of the aspx extension

By default Sitecore puts a .aspx extension on the end of a url. Changing it is just a config setting:

    <linkManager defaultProvider="sitecore">
      <providers>
        <add name="sitecore">
          <patch:attribute name="addAspxExtension">false</patch:attribute>
        </add>
      </providers>
    </linkManager>
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Creating a custom 404 Page in Sitecore

Nobody wants to see the standard Sitecore 404 page. Thankfully it’s really easy to change the error pages a user is redirected to through some config settings.

Your error pages can be pages in Sitecore or static HTML files. For 404 pages I would normally use a Sitecore page, that way content authors can still manage its content. For an Error Page I would recommend a static html file to avoid issues with the Error page potentially error-ing.

Add these to a patch file and update the urls accordingly:

<configuration xmlns:patch="http://www.sitecore.net/xmlconfig/">
  <sitecore>
    <settings>
      <!--  ITEM NOT FOUND HANDLER
            Url of page handling 'Item not found' errors
      -->
      <setting name="ItemNotFoundUrl">
        <patch:attribute name="value">/ErrorPages/404.html</patch:attribute>
      </setting>
      <!--  LINK ITEM NOT FOUND HANDLER
            Url of page handling 'Link item not found' errors
      -->
      <setting name="LinkItemNotFoundUrl">
        <patch:attribute name="value">/ErrorPages/404.html</patch:attribute>
      </setting>
      <!--  LAYOUT NOT FOUND HANDLER
            Url of page handling 'Layout not found' errors
      -->
      <setting name="LayoutNotFoundUrl">
        <patch:attribute name="value">/ErrorPages/404.html</patch:attribute>
      </setting>
      <!--  ERROR HANDLER
            Url of page handling generic errors
      -->
       <setting name="ErrorPage">
        <patch:attribute name="value">/ErrorPages/Error.html</patch:attribute>
      </setting>
    </settings>
  </sitecore>
</configuration>


These settings are already defined in the web.config file and changing them here will have the same effect, but I recommend adding patch config files as it will make your solution easier to update in the future.

Getting the URL of a Sitecore Item

You may expect a Sitecore Item to contain a property for its URL, however to actually get the URL of an item you need to use the LinkManager class.

There are also a few different options when getting an items URL, such as if you include the language code or not.

The following example gets the URL for an item with no language code and has a path relative to the site it is in. This is useful when your Sitecore instance may have multiple sites running and your home node isn’t at the root of the content tree.

Sitecore.Links.UrlOptions urlOptions = new Sitecore.Links.UrlOptions();
urlOptions.SiteResolving = true;
urlOptions.LanguageEmbedding = Sitecore.Links.LanguageEmbedding.Never;

string url = Sitecore.Links.LinkManager.GetItemUrl(item, urlOptions);

Sitecore: Setting the login page title

Sitecore Custom Welcome Title

If you have multiple Sitecore sites or separate environments (e.g. Development, Test, Staging), a good way to tell them apart is by setting the title on the login page.

The best way of doing this is by creating a patch file with the following contents:


<configuration xmlns:patch="http://www.sitecore.net/xmlconfig/">
  <sitecore>
    <settings>
      <setting name="WelcomeTitle">
        <patch:attribute name="value">LOGIN PAGE TITLE GOES HERE</patch:attribute>
      </setting>
    </settings>
  </sitecore>
</configuration>