I like short, myself. I'm working with sites where you could take a bus from one end of the URL to the other, and it's a pain. I don't think any benefit you might get from keywords mitigates an overly long URL.
I used to have long URLS with lots of key terms... I recently moved over to shorter non-descriptive by easy to read/understand URL's... URL's that would be easier to understand and remember... certainly easier to type into the browser directly. We didn't see a decrease in traffic... and may have seen a slight uptick afterward.
BUT, most interestingly. It seems that the users liked the non-spammy looking, easy to read, non-intimidating URLS because it improved some user metrics as much as 15%!
That experience coupled with the fact that Google actually tells their "quality raters" to look for spammy, key word stuffed URLs as a negative sign says to me, go short!
Great feedback, thank you both!
I also like brevity. Brevity and keywords when possible, but brevity first. I have also moved to short urls and had success.
Depends how big your site is.
Probably more important to have unique and relevant page titles.
Use directory names that will convey some meaning to you as you work on the site in years to come. ("Where the bleepity bleepity did I put the section on purple widgets?") So if you've got directories named /a/ and /b/, let them be for groups of pages or subdirectories or images that start with a and b.
Good advice, thanks everyone :-)
Hi again everyone,
I've got a follow up question to the above and would really appreciate some expert input just before going live with our new system.
Having taken the advice to go for brevity by keeping the name of our content module's directory as short as possible I now need to make a choice related to the latter portion of the URL where keywords from the article's section name, category name and article title itself are included. At first sight the choice seems obvious but because of the way our CMS works, I'm not sure it is.
It's probably easiest if I give an example. If we imagine an article titled "Benefits of blue widgets" located within the articles category of our products section we have a choice of using one of the following URL structures:
Now, most people - including myself - would automatically assume that the first option is the one to choose. It uses a directory naming convention which clearly shows the section and category structure of the site.
In reality, everything after
in the above URLs is purely cosmetic. The "a=21" identifies the article uniquely to the CMS and nothing after that is processed when the page is requested. That means that although
at first glance looks like a genuine directory structure, it is only so to the human eye, not the CMS. To be clear, were you to try to access
you would still be taken to the page for article 21, not to an index for all articles or products as you might expect.
There are good reasons for including the section and category names in the URL so I do want to stick with one of the options, i.e. using the directory structure with slashes as delimiters, or just bundling everything into a hyphen deliminated structure (e.g. www.widgetworld.com/c/a=21/products-articles-benefits-of-blue-widgets)
My concerns are that although the directory option looks good initially it might confuse people who try to edit the URL looking for a section/category index, but also more importantly it might be red flagged by Google somehow if googlebot picks up on the fact that these are pseudo directory structures.
What would you do in this case?
Many thanks in advance for any comments, they're much appreciated.
|What would you do in this case? |
Not trying to be snarky here, but maybe use a different CMS?
I am surprised that they don't have an "SEO URLs" plugin / module that would allow you to just go:
Are you sure there is no third-party plug in that will do that?
Appreciate the comment but changing to another CMS is not an option and the plugin/module under discussion is the only one available.
I'm going to have to agree with Planet. And if you don't have a plugin why not program shortcuts into your URL structure?
Specific to the SEO:
1. Google, in their training manual outright stated: sites with too many hyphens are more likely spam. I think they were referring to the domain name... or were they? (doesn't matter because it doesn't take a big leap of the imagination to consider that they don't like hyphens (or long urls) for that matter.
2. Matt Cutts, in various videos/blogs etc. says that the best URL's have LOGIC and can easily be remembered and entered directly into browser.
The list goes on. My advice is to simplify to the easiest/smallest/most logical URL structure you can.
Appreciate those comments too (I should probably make it clear that I fully appreciate this is not an ideal situation and that while *technically* anything is possible, in practical terms I have to deal with various real-world constraints - time, money, expertise etc. - which means these are my only options.)
Lenny2, just so I'm sure I haven't missed anything important, could you clarify what you meant by programming shortcuts into the URL structure?
Great point about too many hyphens acting as a spam signal, definitely something I need to consider.
Actually, let me throw this in there too. From a Google SEO perspective, given the choice of a system producing short URLs like
or one like this
which wins out?
Basically, and this relates to my original question but perhaps in a more radical fashion, does extreme brevity trump keyword richness?
I'd say yes, brevity is better - but mostly because of user behavior rather than any direct metric that looks at the URL.
The choice of dashes or slashes is, as you say, merely cosmetic. With URL rewriting within reach for almost any website, it wouldn't make much sense to weight rankings very heavily on factors that are so easy to manipulate - merely cosmetic, as you say.
The purpose of anything cosmetic is to appear attractive to people - and longer URLs don't have as much appeal.
Macavity, I've got to say that my opinion is just that... I don't know with much emperical evidence which would win out given all factors SEO. In my case, we saw increased time on site and other factors after we shortened the urls:
We did not experience any change in traffic - if anything our traffic increased (slightly).
Based on my own personal experience I'd go with shorter URL's every time. Not just because it doesn't seem to affect the SEO... but because users appreciate it.
|Based on my own personal experience I'd go with shorter URL's every time. Not just because it doesn't seem to affect the SEO... but because users appreciate it. |
And better chance that users will copy your CORRECT URl when they link to your pages.
I've seen a handful of sites that link to my pages where the URL was truncated (and thus, was a broken link) because the URLs on my site were apparently too long for their system to handle...
The drawback (and I don't know how significant this is) is that people often use the URL of the destination page as the anchor text of a link. So if your URL is just domainname.com/?a=115 it would not have as much value as anchor text which has keywords in it (which a longer URL would provide).
Personally I wouldn't have anything in the URL which is just there for the sake of it. I.e. don't have directories just for the sake of them. If you actually had to create the physical files, you probably wouldn't make a separate directory for each article, you'd probably just put them all in an "articles" directory.
So I would have
or something like that. Keep it simple.
Interesting points, plenty of food for thought :-)
Thanks very much to all of you for taking the time to comment, this has been really useful!
Jumping in a little late, but for the directory name why not use the language prefix 'en' so you're future proofed if you want to expand your site to other languages? Just a thought.
That's a clever thought, thanks for the suggestion!