Here at theEword, we’re keen social networkers. We also love clean links (URLs). Sometimes, the two go hand in hand; social networking site MySpace, for example, offers users the chance to create clean and personalised URLs free of charge.
What exactly is a ‘clean’ link?
A clean link is simply a URL that is mainly lexical, and free of numbers, symbols and other such clutter. Let’s use theEword as an example. If we decided to create a MySpace page, a suitably clean link would be myspace.com/theEword.
Facebook and the clean URL debate
Currently, MySpace’s rival Facebook doesn’t offer these neat and tidy URLs. Links on the site comprise a series of numbers and symbols, making them messy and SEO-unfriendly.
The AllFacebook blog, however, has reported that the most popular social networking site in the world is asking users whether they would be prepared to pay for their own clean URLs.
Key rules of creating a good URL
One of the first rules when creating a good URL structure is to take search engine optimisation (SEO) into account. Good SEO enables a site to appear higher up in search rankings – this is great for getting a site noticed.
Including the subject matter of a page in the URL is excellent SEO practice. For example, the content team at theEword write copy for a laptop comparison site, ShopLaptop. A page comparing pink laptops can be found here. It’s smart to include ‘pink laptops’ in the URL, because once a user types in the search term ‘pink laptops’, Google recognises the page’s relevance and ranks it higher in the results. The URL should relate exactly to the content on the page too. It would be bad practice to use ‘toshiba-laptops’ in a link when the content is about Dell laptops.
Benefits of a good URL structure
It makes sense for business to consider URL structure when setting up websites. Good, clean URLs are not only easier for search engines to see and list, they are also far more user-friendly than their older alphanumeric counterparts. Enabling a user to see what content is on the page just by looking at the URL fosters a more intuitive browsing experience, which could aid conversions.
Nick O’Neill at AllFacebook seems to agree: “Facebook could theoretically make millions if people were willing to pay for short URLs. I know that every business would be dying to get their own clean URL.”