Are page URLs important?

The actual URL (file name) of a page probably doesn’t have a huge bearing on its success in the search engine results, but it plays a small part, so why not make the most of it? Your content management system will probably at best just allocate a URL based on the title of the page, and at worst allocate a number. But it’ll probably give you the opportunity to manually define one before publication, so take advantage of that.

If the page is answering a targeted question, it’s surely a good idea to use the question as it stands. For example, my article “Should I use the ‘title’ attribute on images and links?” has the URL https://www.bmon.co.uk/2019/12/should-i-use-the-title-attribute-on-images-and-links/ and I’m sure that’s helped it sneak on to the first page of my search results for that query, despite the scarily strong opposition.

However, for more product-based pages, it may make more sense to strip back the URL to the important stuff (the product name) while possibly adding some helpful descriptors. If you have a page about the Model X1 Blue Widget, titled “Model X1 – Product Specifications”, your content management system may give that a URL of …/model-x1-product-specifications/. But you may be better off amending that to …/model-x1-blue-widget/. Or think about what people want from the page; perhaps …/model-x1-blue-widget-datasheet/ is the main query that ought to lead them to your page.

It should go without saying that you should never simply rewrite a page’s URL after it’s been published, as links from search engines (and indeed all external sites) would be broken. If you do ever want to rewrite URLs – perhaps because you’ve currently got something really useless like a number – it’s essential to set up proper 301 redirects from the retired URLs.