URLs and File Names

The URL (Universal Resource Locator) is the literal address of your web site on the Internet. It’s the address that site visitors type into their browser’s address bar to reach you. Or in some cases, it’s the link those users click to find you.

Ideally, your URL should be as descriptive as possible without being long and hard to remember. So, as you’ve learned, a URL of www.atopkeyword.com is much more effective than a URL of www.partofyourcompanynameonline.com.

But there is more to a URL than just the base name. For example, your site’s structure probably has several levels of pages and files. So the base URL will then include a path to additional pages and folders. Unfortunately, if you have a site that has hundreds of pages or dynamic content, you could end up with a URL that looks like this:

urls-1.jpg

There are a couple of problems with that URL. The first is that there’s no way visitors will remember all of it. And the second is that you’ve lost valuable keyword real estate because the URL is an undecipherable collection of letters and numbers.

A better option with your URLs is to try to keep them as short and descriptive as possible. Say that the preceding long URL was one that leads users to a handmade red scallop shell necklace that you have for sale. Rather than creating a long URL that has no meaning at all, you could create a URL for the page featuring the necklace that reads something like this:

urls-2.jpg

That URL is much shorter, and it’s much more memorable than the longer one. Individuals might still have difficulty remembering the URL, but it’s more likely they will remember it than one that’s full of random letters and numbers. This illustrates the two key bits of advice we’re talking about: URLs should be descriptive without being overly long, and they should give visitors a good idea of what to expect on the page. Using this method of creating URLs for the pages in your web site, you open up the potential for including keywords in your URL, which not only helps as crawlers look at your site, but also when your URL is posted as a link on other web sites or mailing lists.

Note that you should keep URLs limited to as few dynamic parameters as possible (like the product ID in the example URL). A dynamic parameter is the part of the URL that provides data to a database so the proper records can be retrieved. The product ID or category ID are good examples of dynamic parameters. Another good example might be the pages of a blog. Each page will usually contain one post, or posts for a week or a month. Those pages are most often created using dynamic parameters in the URL to indicate that the information stored in a database is what should be retrieved when a user visits the site.

The URL that you select for your web site and create for your web pages is an important piece of text. Those URLs can be crawled by search engine crawlers, and they should be easy for visitors to use, to remember, and to understand. These tips, like many of the others covered in the book to this point, are all small parts of SEO. It’s when all of the small parts come together that your SEO efforts bring great strides.

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