Friday, September 19, 2008

An effective URL strategy and its benefits

The URL and extended URL use on your company website is important for 2 key reasons:


1. It provides a logical navigation structure
Basic usability says that you need to show users where they are in the site structure. Yes, you can provide all the signage/clues/breadcrumbs/etc. but also providing a decent URL path gives your browsing user an informal breadcrumb trail that provides them with further hints as to where they are. Or put it another way, not providing this may mean the difference between your customers finding what they want and not.

For example, just by looking at the URL path on the Adobe site:
http://www.adobe.com/products/captivate/productinfo/product-demos/podcasting-software/

You could perhaps decipher that you were looking at some information on one of its products called Captivate. You may even go so far as to think you were on a page that demonstrated how its could be used for podcasting. You would of-course be correct.

However, who would have guessed that this is a link to PC World's Business site to buy this same product? http://www.pcwb.com/catalogue/item/ADOCA004


2. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Real users aren't the only things that read URL's to understand the content. Most web search engines also read the URL and use it in their indexing of the page. This is one of the reasons why blog posting appear so high up in searches for specific phrases.
For example, if you type the following into Google "Customers can be brand evangelists", you get two search results, the top one being:
http://press20.blogspot.com/2008/04/customers-can-be-brand-evangelists.html
(my 14 April posting on the subject)



So if you're thinking about re-developing your new website, remember to ask your technical team what they are doing about the URL structure.
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