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URL structure isn’t necessarily fun to think about. It’s not sexy. But it is an important foundation to the success of your website and your digital promotion efforts.

Why URL structure is important

  • If your URLs are clear and memorable, there is no need for an extra redirect from any marketing campaign, which is less to maintain and makes your pages load faster.
  • URLs with keywords are good for SEO.
  • Sustainable URLs are memorable by people, individuals’ browsers, and search engines, and computers. If a previous visitor starts typing in a URL, they’ll see the one they visited before. (Thanks to @redsesame and @pamela_drouin for starting this conversation.)

How to create a sustainable URL

  1. Choose a name that reflects the information (e.g., website.com/name)
    The shorter, the better. This might be a challenge if your website has topics, events, and publications that share similar names, but keep the name as short and clear as possible. (Note: Especially for an annual report, newsletter, or other publication, this page might need to have links to previous issues.)
  2. When there is a new instance of the event or information, save the previous one with a new name (e.g., website.com/name2013) and then replace the initial information with the updated content.Or if there is no business need to archive the previous instance, overwrite the old information with the new details. We acknowledge that this may be a new, bold move for some organizations (see “Are you a content hoarder?“).

When to use this approach

  • Annual events
  • Newsletters or other publications
  • Alerts that are live for just a short time

What not to include in the URL

  • An event’s theme
  • The year
  • A specific location
  • The page headline
    (NOTE: This may make these URLs very different than those of your website’s more editorial content, and that is just fine.)

What do you think — have I missed anything in this piece? I’d love to get your comments!

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