Clean URLS Explained
A URL, or uniform resource locator, is the address of a page or file on the World Wide Web. The URL is displayed in your browser’s address bar, usually starting with http: or https:. A clean URL is one that does not have a parameter string. For example:
How clean URLs help
A clean URL is less intimidating to a human user. They can look at it and get an idea what the page is about. Clean URLs are also more sharable. Being short and meaningful, they are more pleasing to the eye and more likely to be shared on Twitter, Facebook, or other sites, and via email. Sharing and linking make a site more visible, tend to help its search rankings, and increase quality traffic—visitors who convert.
When a site appears in the search results, a piece of the URL that matches the search query will be displayed in bold text. Visually, the bold text is more clickable, and because the URL text matches the searcher’s intent, the searcher is more confident that the page is actually about the topic of interest. The connection between search query, search result, page headings and page content is called information scent. The user has in mind a need for information. On the path from search engine to web site, we must reinforce the connection between what they need and what we offer.
Web page addresses are displayed on brochures, catalogs, signs, vehicles, television ads, and read aloud by telephone and radio. After going to all the trouble and expense of promoting a web address, why not make it as easy as possible to type?
When is it Worth Changing to Clean URLs?
The benefits of improved URL structure are relatively modest versus the cost of switching URLs. Switching URLs should be done infrequently, because switching can break links and damage natural search rankings. The time to implement clean URLs is when it is already necessary to change them, such as when replacing or upgrading the web site’s software. When we install a new content management system, we implement clean URLs whenever practical.
How to Implement Clean URLs
The most popular content management system, WordPress, implements clean URLs through the permalinks configuration.
Other content management systems have plugins or features that can be configured. For further information about clean URLs for your content management system, please see:
- WordPress: Go to Settings -> Permalinks
- Joomla!: sh404SEF plugin
- Drupal: Setting Up Clean URLs
- Dot Net Nuke: URL Master from Ifinity Software Development
About the Author
After graduating from Yale with two degrees in Computer Science, Jonathan Hochman set up his own consulting company in 1990. He has been an Internet marketer since 1994.