For those of you labouring with an old and/or badly written content management system, today’s article won’t be that encouraging. It emphasises the need to have nice clear web page addresses, or “URLs”, which in themselves describe what the page is about. In many systems, the URL imposed on each page won’t be something useful like “www.redwidgetcompany.co.uk/widgets/pricelist.html” but will more likely be something horrible like “www.redwidgetcompany.co.uk/dfgy/content.aspx?prod=aXT45&num=34771”.
There are two things bad about this. One is that it tells the search engines nothing, and puts your SEO on the back foot before the search engines even look at your page. The second is that it tells the reader nothing, especially when they see the link in all its glory in the Google results. It’s amazing how many people now scan down the green URLs when they get a results page.
URL Best Practices and Guidelines Reminder on Marketing Jive outlines what great URLs should look like. The problem is that it’s difficult to change what you’ve got, and probably impossible if you’re controlled by an inflexible content management system. However, if you do decide to rip up your site and start again, which is often not as daunting as it sounds, make sure these rules are followed. It’s quite possible to redirect the old URLs to the new pages without much work, and without losing anything in the search engines.