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Effective URLs

Effective URLs

How to Create Effective and Safe URLs

Website URLs are an important marketing tool, but both marketers and developers sometimes neglect building URLs that make it easy for customers to find your business. The URL is one of the first things a visitor learns about your company from your website. A good URL is likely to be overlooked by the average visitor, but a bad one will send the wrong impression, deter clicks and possibly cost you business.

Avoid messy-looking URLs by utilizing the following best practices.

Make URLs easily readable

Remember that your customers are humans, not bots. While a string of numbers and letters might mean something to your website, it means nothing to the person trying to save or share your webpage.

A good website URL clearly states the information found on that page. If you post your link on social, a visitor will be more likely to click a link that says what it is, not one that looks like spam. If you’re sharing a specific link outside the digital world, like on a banner or flier, a clean URL that’s easy to remember will be much more effective.

Employ keywords strategically

It’s no longer a common SEO practice to add a bunch of keywords to a URL in hopes of boosting search rankings; however, keywords are still key.

Keywords signal what the page is really about, helping to make it more readable. It also helps potential visitors decide whether to click on a link. When you add a hyperlink to a page using anchor text, the keyword in the URL helps readers decide whether to click when they hover and see the link preview. Plus, even if keyword stuffing is no longer an SEO practice, strong keywords still help in search rankings.

Use subfolders, not subdomains

A subfolder is yourpage.com/news. A subdomain is news.yourpage.com. While there is some debate about the effectiveness of subfolders versus subdomains in SEO rankings, best practices for web architecture are clearer.

Subdomains should be used for portions of the site needing their own server. Perhaps a product or service has an entirely separate audience requiring its own site. Subfolders are sufficient when you’ll just be adding pages to your site, like blog posts.

Think critically about your business and your customers’ needs when deciding whether to use a subfolder or subdomain.

Keep it brief

Long URLs are less likely to be discovered or shared because they are a pain. A long URL is difficult to read, and impossible to remember. If a visitor wants to share your link, they may accidentally not copy the entire URL if it’s too long, and even if they do it takes up precious characters in social media posts.

Sometimes a long URL is unavoidable, like when a visitor searches your site and the query terms appear in the URL. Keeping the root URL brief will minimize this issue.

While there’s no perfect number, URLs merit a review if they’re regularly longer than 100 characters.

Stop using unsafe characters

Just as there are standards for website architecture and design, there are standards for URLs. Certain characters are considered safe, reserved and unsafe for use. A common example of unsafe URL structure is using a space between words in your URL rather than a hyphen or underscore.

Apply these standards when creating URLs for your website:

Safe characters: Alphanumeric characters 0-9, a-z and A-Z

Reserved characters: These characters are safe when used for their reserved purpose, e.g. when ? is used in a search query: ; / ? : @ = &

Unsafe characters: These characters and blank spaces should not be used: " < > # % { } | \ ^ ~ [ ] `

At IDMI.Net we have experience crafting websites that generate effective and compliant URLs. We work with you to create a website architecture that supports your business goals and makes it easy for customers to find you. For help crafting URLs that encourage clicks and generate leads, contact us today.

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