In the early days of creating web pages, I didn’t think about the importance of a URL. It was early 2000s and we were busy exploring options of adding music to play in the background when a website opened. And, we were districted with making logos spin!
Google was brand new and still a noun. It was many years later when Google became a verb that I moved on from spinning logos to pondering meta descriptions, SEO, and URLs.
What’s in a URL?
With a website, a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the network address of a resource including websites, web pages, images, and documents. There are several parts to a URL. Let’s break it down using the M&C site:
Protocol – https://www.merriganco.com
Domain Name – https://www.merriganco.com
Folder - https://www.merriganco.com/blog/
Specific page - https://www.merriganco.com/blog/2018/10/8/rainout-but-not-a-washout
The part of a URL we can influence for best SEO is the path that points to our webpage or document – the folder and the specific page name.
Just like the sock drawer at home
Folders help organize the content and give a better visitor experience when navigating a website. It’s like getting all the socks in the sock drawer. It makes life easier. With a website, categorizing content and using folders allows Google to quickly organize and direct traffic to your site and page.
A nonprofit’s list of folders might include giving options, about us, volunteer opportunities, programs, get help, and news and events.
Steps to creating an effective URL
With folders in place, it’s time to analyze the choice of words for the page title. A quick and easy approach to naming the pathway to a web page is to use the actual page title. It might be fast but it’s not an effective approach when it comes to SEO. Try this instead:
When creating a URL, take advantage of the opportunity to give the page or document a short, focused name. Though the maximum length is 2,083 characters, it’s recommended to keep a URL under 100. Shorter URLs have better Google results, are easier to read, and easier to share.
Stick with essential words and avoid using stop words with little value such as “an” and “the.”
Rather than worry about unsafe, safe, and reserved characters, avoid using special characters in a URL.
Try to incorporate a targeted keyword relating to the web page content.
Use hyphens instead of spaces or underscores to fill the gaps. %20 will be automatically added to the URL to fill a space. And, web crawlers read two words connected by an underscore as one word.
Incorporate a sitemap to avoid duplication of URLs and content.
Include URLs in your style and brand guide to help aim for consistency such as always using all lower-case letters.
Susan Mertz is a Content Specialist at M&C. She specializes in website development, search engine optimization and enhancing user experience.