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Should we still use a descriptive URL?

Many businesses using a website content management system may have it set up by default to create a page file name (URL) from the page title. Often this will automatically be trimmed down by removing conjunctions and other short words, to create a URL with just the important nouns, verbs and adjectives.

So for example, the automatically-generated URL for this page is – which is a format that describes the page well if viewed in isolation.

In the past, this was without doubt good practice for search engine optimisation, by putting the important keywords for the page front and centre. It was also good for users, who could see relevant words in the URL.

However, neither of these really apply any more. Google has specifically said that words in the URL are a ‘very small ranking factor’ (and I suspect even smaller since they said that). And users get very limited exposure to the URL too: the search engines don’t tend to show them in the results, and browser address bars likewise are tending to hide them.

I’d still use URLs based on the title if you get the choice and it’s not much (or any) effort to do so. If anything, I’d keep the short words in place too. However, don’t worry about it too much.