A lot has been written about SEO Friendly URLs. Some of it is confusing and misleading. Zen Cart URLs can be crawled just fine by all the major search engines so the ‘friendly’ part is a misnomer. A more appropriate name would be People Friendly URLs. These two urls are for the same page:
The first is certainly nicer to look at, better to use for marketing like emails and newsletters and provides a clue for people as to what the page is about. This is why they are called People Friendly URLs. They do provide a bit of an SEO lift as well although the extent is highly debated.
There are two very popular SEO Friendly URL Plugins for Zen Cart. They both create, or re-write, friendly URLs. In one, the rewritten url’s are basically the product name. There are some options, but not many. In the second one, you have the ability to enter your own choice for every category and product. The default is the category or product name but you can change this if you wish.
The size and age of your store and your desire for the ability to use custom names will determine which is the best choice for you. This is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Wheaton Website Services has used both SEO Friendly URL plugins for many clients over the years.
The great thing about both plugins is that the existing, default Zen Cart URLs will still work. They get redirected automatically to the new urls. Why is this important? If you’re store has been around for awhile, all those existing url’s are already in search engine indexes. They are being shown in the search engine results. If they suddenly stopped working, you’d be losing out on a lot of traffic while the search engines crawled and re-indexed all the new url’s. It could literally take months. Because the old url’s work and will continue to work, this does not create any problems.