How To Spoof CMS URLs

I knew there had to be more to the Kate Middleton jelly bean URL story. So here’s the deal: Independent’s URLs can be spoofed. You can alter the URL slug, but as long as you keep the number at the end of the URL the same, the URL will still go to the originally intentioned page. Here’s some examples of spoofed Independent URLs that will resolve to the Kat Middleton story:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/the-future-king-is-going-bald-like-a-jelly-bean-2269573.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/kate-middleton-is-to-skinny-to-eat-jelly-beans-2269573.html

URLs with keywords are important for search engine optimization. So, it looks like the tech team for the Independent (and other news sites -see below) has made their content management system work this way. The URL with keywords will 301 redirect to the original SEO unfriendly URL with numbers. This helps get more traffic from search engines like Google, and traffic pays the news bills via website advertising.

Here’s examples of other spoofed news URLs (these aren’t real, just created to show the point):

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-was-born-in-kenya/2011/04/18/AFUFQN2D_story.html

St. Petersburg Times: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/fire/obama-was-born-in-kenya/1164650

The Harvard Journalism lab thinks there may be libel issues with spoofed URLs, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the IT teams for these sites update their CMS code. The tricky part will be updating for only future stories, and not existing URLs. If existing URL structure is changed, it could have a direct impact to the sites natural traffic. The existing keyword friendly URLs are indexed in Google. If the URL slug structure is updated to avoid spoofing, and it’s not done correctly, all the old indexed URLs could resolve to 404 pages. Once the Google spider sees this, it will remove the URL from their index and it won’t get shown in searches.

How To Spoof CMS URL| Spoofing URLs

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