What is a URL?
A uniform resource locator (URL) is the address of a resource on the Internet. A URL indicates the location of a resource as well as the protocol used to access it.
A URL contains the following information:
- The protocol used to a access the resource
- The the location of the server (whether by IP address or domain name)
- The port number on the server (optional)
- The location of the resource in the directory structure of the server
- A fragment identifier (optional)
Also known as a Universal Resource Locator (URL) or Web address. A URL is a type of uniform resource identifier (URI). In common practice, the term URI isn’t used, or is used synonymously with URL, even though this is technically incorrect.
Why is the URL Important?
As the URL is defined, it the is the name of your resource online. Every entity that accesses that element uses, refers to, reads, and otherwise consumes the structure of your URL as an instrumental part of your webpage. Most Content Management systems, like WordPress, provide you with a structure for your URL out-of-the-box. But a little attention and direction can really give your content a step forward in performing online. You may not realize how many places the URL is being used.
- URLs are often the text used to link to a webpage
- URLs are commonly printed on marketing collateral such as business cards, flyers, billboards, and emails
- URLs are an influential factor in how your webpage may rank in an Internet search
- URLs are often spoken by your sales and/or support staff
These and the many other uses of a URL warrant a better understanding and better usage. So, how should you structure a URL?
1. Follow search-engine friendly naming conventions. Some people make the mistake of giving such names as ‘page # 1″ and ‘page # 2″ to their pages whih is a huge no for search engine optimization, because it’s a lot easier for search engines to follow well structured URLs. As an example, if the URL is example.com/blog/news, the search engine robot will know that it has to index the home page of the website, the blog, and the news.
2. Include keywords in URL’s. You’re allowed to include your keyword in the URL. This is good for SEO and it brings in targeted Web traffic since people who click on it will be people who are interested in exactly what you are offering.
TinyURLs are very popular today. Even with the criticism that they render visitors blind, they are still beneficial for SEO. This is because TinyURLs ’301′² (permanently redirect) do not index the TinyURL, but rather they pass the PR (PageRank) and index to the actual URL. Do not ignore your URL structure just because you are using TinyURLs.
3. Develop well-structured URL’s. According to Google’s Matt Cutts, the Google algorithm pays attention to the first 3 to 5 words and less attention to any word thereafter. With a structured URL, you will avoid issues related to sub-domains, which are best avoided because they are often lengthy and complex. They may be important for reputation management, but they lead to loss of trust and value.
A well-structured URL makes use of hyphens and underscores. The separation makes crawling by search engine robots easier and has the effect of increasing your ranking in search engine results pages. The best order for separating multiple words in a URL are hyphens, underscores, ( ), +, and nothing, in that order.
4. Stay away from numbers. You should use only words since numbers detract from efficient usability. Only use numbers if they help in explaining the website’s content. The URL structure should define the parent directories as well as the sub-directories clearly and completely. This means should the visitor remove part of the URL, he will be left with the main page of the upper level directory.
Good URL structure ensures fewer errors with end users who can cram the URL for manual typing. However, typos are common when people manually enter URLs, which you can avoid by keeping the URL short. The length will needs to be short enough for people to copy and paste on to their browsers. The characters should be such that the users do not forget them when typing manually.