Why YouTube Doesn’t Have SEO Friendly URLs, Lighttpd (Lighty) and What Google Has Done

Why YouTube Doesn’t Have SEO Friendly URLs, Lighttpd (Lighty) and What Google Has Done

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Google is the well-known Search Engine giant out there. The company provides relevant search engine results to those seeking info. An SEO knows that to be placed on Google’s search results pages they need to optimize their web-pages for Google. One of the most crucial elements is in having an SEO-friendly URL. Enter YouTube.

YouTube: Google’s New Video Toy

Google bought YouTube for $1.5 billion in 2005 since it was the most wide-spread video streaming sites back then, arguably moreso than Google Video. Widely criticized, Google showed everyone up by creating one of the most widely-marketed video streaming sites on the planet. They had an interest in getting YouTube videos to the top of search results. However, YouTube pages, while they have strong support for header and meta description tags, as well as a content area, surprisingly lack the capacity for SEO-friendly URLs!


Reason for this: Lighttpd (Lighty)

Believe it or not, the answer is a very simple one: the website Youtube, when it initially was built, was built on a Linux server with a different web server than Apache. They built it using lighttpd, also known or “Lighty.” This was done because Lighty is a fast server that streams videos at a noticeably quicker speed than Apache can. However, it comes at a cost: SEO friendly URLs cannot be generated using an .htaccess file since Lighty doesn’t support .htaccess files! Only Apache does.


What Google Has Done: Blended Search Results

However, Google invested $1.5 Billion into YouTube to not see it flounder. While Google “owns” their search engine, they cannot simply take a URL to the first page from regular results. With their complex search algorithm, it’s not that simple.

Enter Blended Search Results (I’m thinking right now about the show “will it blend?”). Google came out with blended search results which included videos. From there YouTube videos became more preferential as apparently the URL name does not get counted in the video search results. Soon enough, Google Maps, news feeds, and yes, twitter showed up in the blended page 1 of Google’s precious search results page.

Extra: YouTube Cookies are tied into a Google URL

One more free  secret about YouTube. Have you ever noticed that when signed into Google, you need to sign in “special” for YouTube? Also, why is it that with the new multiple user accounts you can only get one YouTube session? The answer is that when you sign into Google, a cookie for “www.google.com” as everything points to “www.google.com/accounts.” Therefore, to get YouTube access (also some other services like analytics.google.com since it’s not “www”) you need to click “sign in” and it does it automatically. For this reason alone, applying multiple accounts to YouTube would be too complicated as it’s already not the same URL!

Unless the internet changes, the above will always stay the same.