Clean, Short URLs are Simply Beautiful

keep-it-simple-stupid-kissIt’s the nature of my job to look around on the internet. I see a lot of websites, day in and day out, and it’s hard not to view it from an SEO perspective. I start to critique websites that I have absolutely no affiliation with. Kind of like a plastic surgeon “people watching”, noticing all of the different surgeries people should have.

What’s interesting, however, is how often sites are more complicated than they should be. I can almost envision web developers thinking to themselves, “How can I impress other developers by creatively constructing this website?” Sadly, it often makes things more complicated later on.

While keeping things simple can be challenging at times, allow me to address just one aspect of simplicity that really makes a difference: URLs.

In my virtual travels, I’ve seen multiple URLs for the same page, pages that take content from dozens of other pages, websites with hardly any original content, a website all in one single URL (no separate pages at all), all Flash websites, and the list goes on. All of these things just cause headaches for internet marketers.

The ideal URL is as simple as possible. For example, www.website.com/page. That’s it. No need to put anything else on there. No question marks, ampersands, parameters, nothing else. If you’re tempted to make it more complicated, just stop, take a step back, count to ten, and think about what you are doing.

Of course, sometimes it’s just not that easy. Perhaps you have a complicated website out of necessity (such as a content management system). Well, sorry to tell you, this rule still applies. The good news however, is that there are ways of still adjusting the URLs, so that they look clean to search engines. The most common way of rewriting URLs (if they are dynamic) is to use a Mod Rewrite. There several tools out there that will help you to write mod rewrite rules, like this one.

If you use WordPress, there is a built in feature that helps you out with this. Go to settings, then check out the “Permalinks” section. Make your changes, and then make sure to feel really lucky that WordPress already incorporates that tool into their software.

Making these changes will have a great impact on your site. Making the URLs simpler will help to improve your site’s spiderability, and help your visitors find what they are looking for.

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1 Comment

  1. Jacob S. says

    I totally agree. Short URL’s with clean & simple keyword usage is highly effective for SEO.

    I run into a lot of clients that use highly dynamic & very complicated URL strands that hurt more than they help.

    I constantly preach about the need to eliminate all jargon in your URL to keep it simple

    Great article!

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