I've heard that URLs with ? in them don't get into the search engines. Is this true?

Yes and no.

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Some search engines will add urls with ? in them, but many won't. The reason is that typically, a URL with a ? in it indicates that the page contains dynamic content, and the search engines are afraid they'll get trapped in infinite loops when they try and spider the pages.

So in general, URLs with ? in them are a very bad idea.

Many sites use such URLs to support shopping carts; heck, I use the technique when you log into your account on selfpromotion.com (the ?CODE= stuff identifies who you are). But I'm careful not to start adding that extra stuff to the url until you actually log in. Since a search engine never logs in, it'll never see a ?.

One major sin is sites that automatically create a shopping cart for each visitor. Many search engines see that kind of thing and run away screaming. There's no need to create a shopping cart until a visitor actually adds the first item.

Another even more awful "stupid net trick" is the "redirect to the same page and set a cookie" trick, which a lot of sites running under ASP tend to do. Since search engines ignore cookies, they can get trapped and give up.

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