Web page addresses, or “URLs”, are becoming less visible to users all the time. Many browser applications hide them completely now – all you see in the browser address bar might be the domain. In addition, you’ll have noticed that very few people quote “slash” anything, any more. It’s normally just “visit our website”, and they ensure that everything being promoted is clearly highlighted on the home page.
And quite right too. Almost nobody will type in anything more than a domain name nowadays. Tell someone to type in “www.bluewidgetcompany.co.uk/blue-widgets” and they’ll probably just go to Google, search for “blue widgets” and hope. People are too lazy to care about long URLs.
However, the search engines aren’t. They take the contents of URLs as a serious indicator of what’s on the page. So if your content management system automatically allocates random numbers to your page, you’re at an instant disadvantage.
I’ve recently mentioned sorting out target search terms for your site and allocating them to pages. Getting these “keywords” into the URLs should be part of that process of focusing the page on the terms.
So, for example, I might have decided that the target search term for this article is “getting keywords into urls”, and therefore I’ve ensured those words are in the page title, description meta tag, headline and content. But I’ve also checked that my content management system has included the term in the URL, as follows:
Best practice, in case you’re wondering, is to separate words with hyphens – don’t use underscores or run the words together.
Of course, this is primarily something to look at on new pages, or as part of site rebuilds. However, if your content management system allows it, you can apply a URL change to a page retrospectively. However, only do this if you know how to redirect the URL you’re leaving behind to the new one.