Are You Using Ugly URLs?

By on May 2, 2013

ugly urls

Your website is made up of individual pages that are linked together using hyperlinks. Every page on the Internet has an address — that page’s URL, or Uniform Resource Locator. No two pages can have the exact same address.

Some web page addresses look good — and some are just plain ugly. You should strive to make sure every website page looks good. Here’s an example of the difference:

A Google+ Page URL: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/106285021558818454031

An article on my website URL:
http://steveanderson.com/2013/04/29/self-driving-cars-will-change-auto-insurance/

Which one do you think is easier to read, and to type into your browser?

So, here are some tips for making sure each and every website page is easy to read and is easy for the search engines to find:

  • Descriptions: Like the example from my website above, the URL is easy to read and describes what you can expect to find on that page. Search engines will also understand the words you use, and that can help your rankings.
  • Keep it short: Brevity is a virtue. The shorter the URL, the easier to copy and paste, read to someone over the phone, and share on social platforms.
  • Words are better than numbers: It is far better to use words when possible in the link than numbers.
  • Keywords don’t hurt: If you know you want to target particular keywords, use them in the URL. It may not be a huge help in search rankings but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
  • Use hyphens first: When creating URLs with multiple words in the format of a phrase, hyphens are best to separate the terms (see the example above), followed (in order) by underscores (_), pluses (+), and nothing. There is some debate on this so you may hear a difference of opinion.

Making your web page address easy to read may seem like a small thing. But, I have found that it is often the small things that can really help.

What other tips on making web page URLs useful do you have? Let me know in the comments section below.

4 Comments

  1. Our CMS allow us to create shorter URLs that are re-directed to the desired page (which usually has a much longer URL because of our site structure). That enables us to use more relevant and easier-to-remember URLs in our communications and marketing. As an example, we told members to see our new resource at http://www.iabgroup.com/AAA NOT at http://www.iabgroup.com/features/AgreementAnalysis

    • Brent, that’s a great capability. I do like that it also brands your organization and not a URL shortening service like Bit.ly.

  2. Hey Steve,
    Have you ever tried using pretty links? It’s a WordPress plugin that essentially allows anyone to assign a pretty link to an ugly url (like what Brent was saying above). There’s a free version.

    It really comes in handy for that handful of url’s that you consistently link to on your site, like a lot of sites have resource pages… you could just give it a pretty link of steveanderson.com/resources, for example.

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