Friendly URLs: best practice guidelines

Make your short urls as friendly and meaningful as possible. And short. Really short.

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A friendly URL is a web address that’s easy to read and includes words that describe the content of the webpage – for example blackad.co.uk/training.

Why use a friendly URL?

The main reason is to help site visitors (your potential customers) to get to a specific website page quickly and easily. They help describe the page to visitors, help them remember the web address, and are good for search engines too.

Friendly URLs are useful when you include a web address in a printed leaflet or brochure. For print materials it’s always best to keep your URLs as brief, and meaningful, as possible.

Here’s the Blackad octet of friendly URL considerations:

1. Keep it short (and sweet)

Shorter is easier to remember and has more impact. No one is going to remember 'gardensupplies.com/gardenshedpromo2015' — try this one instead: 'gardensupplies.com/shed'.  And drop the ‘www’.

2. Make it relevant

The word or words in your URL should give the user a clue about the page they’re going to land on. No need to be clever here.

3. Don’t use dynamic string characters (?, =, &)

They make every type of writing less legible and less human. Search engines aren’t keen on them either.

4. Don’t use numbers, just words

Who knows what ‘categoryitem3’ is? Call things by names people will use themselves. There could be exceptions where numbers form part of the product name — like ‘under12s’

5. Make it sound like you

If you have any tone of voice guidelines, follow them. If you don’t, speak to us.

6. Don’t use caps

THEY’RE JUST ODD. See what I did there?

7. Avoid underscores (_)

They’re for techies. Let’s keep it that way. Use hyphens if you need to break up words.

8. Don’t take the ‘folder/folder/folder’ approach

The best friendly URLs are one level deep (blackad.co.uk/courses). You can get away with two (blackad.co.uk/courses/january) but don’t make it a habit.

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