9 Guidelines For Creating Proper URLs
April 13, 2014
1. Describe The Content
The more obvious you can create your urls the better they will perform. If web users can glance at your URL in the browser’s address bar or embedded in an email from a friend or colleague they can make a pretty accurate assumption as to what the page is about before they even visit the page. Even search engines prefer more obvious URLs and use this as a ranking factor in search results.
2. Keep Them Short
The shorter the URL, the easier it is to remember, copy and paste, read over the phone, write down for a quick note, or use in a hundred other unorthodox fashions, all of which lead to better usability and increased branding.
3. Make Them Understandable
Some systems still use dynamic URLs to create pages in complex and/or content rich websites. These URLs include characters like “?,” “&,” and “=“ and not only make your URL quite long and difficult to understand and read, but search engines also treat these URLs differently than more friendly URLs.
4. Descriptive Labels Are Better Than Numbers
You may notice some retail-based websites or content heavy blogs will use URLs that look something like domain.com/12/cat345/. A better solution is to use something more similar to domain.com/brand/product-name/. Even if the descriptive part of the URL is not a keyword or particularly informative to a user, it’s much more advantageous to use words when possible.
5. Use Keywords
If you target keywords to help optimize your website or work with and SEO agency you probably already know the importance of keywords or phrases in your URLs to help these pages perform better in searches. For example, if were are selling Toronto website design as a service, we would plan to create a page discussing all the different types of Toronto web design services our Toronto web design company offers. To help this page perform at its best, we would create a URL for this page that would look like domain.com/toronto-website-design/ making use of the targeted keywords in the URL.
6. Fewer Folders
Have you ever seen a domain that looks like this – domain.com/folder/sub-folder/sub-sub-folder/? It looks friendly enough, but consider how confusing this type of URL can be to users and search engines as the true nature of the content is diluted with each added folder name in the URL.
7. Hyphens Separate Best
When creating URLs that require multiple words to create a key phrase use hyphens to separate words and try to avoid underscores, plus symbols and any other symbols you can dream up.
8. Be Consistent and Conventional
As you develop a website make sure that you use the same conventions in your URL building throughout the entire website ensuring all your URL structures are consistent. This will ensure that users and any web developers working on the website in the future will have a clear idea of how your navigation and content structure is organized throughout the site.
9. Avoid Capital Letters
URLs accept both uppercase and lowercase characters, but that does not mean that you should ever allow any uppercase letters in your URL structure. If you currently use capitalization in your URLs stop reading right here and go write 301 redirects for all of them to lowercase versions to help avoid confusion. If your website experiences a lot of type-in web visitors you might even consider a 301 rule that sends any incorrect capitalization permutation to its correct lowercase home.
Do you have any additional tips for creating URLs that perform well in web searches and enhance user experience? We’d love to hear your thoughts and add to our list.