Call it a mistake, ignorance or avoidance , web developers are not too worried about keeping clean URL structure for the websites they develop.It is a fact. URL normalization, for them is a second priority or a no priority. This leads to a number of issues which often get unnoticed by both developers and the website owners.
This is unfortunate, but true. The outcomes are unfavorable.
You should know that when it comes to ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs) or gaining popularity among users, websites with complex URL structure such as international sites with pages in multiple languages fail to stand high compared to clean URLs. A clean URL does not have a parameter string attached to it.
Who to blame?
It is of no surprise that website owners are hardly aware of these technical aspects. Therefore, for them, it is difficult to review the site from SEO-friendly point of view and usability aspects. Developers once done with a website project never turn up to make further changes on the site, and that too for free. Thus, the problem continues without even being known to anyone. Ultimately the website ends up with poor ranking in Google, high bounce rate, less Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and a recurring loss of traffic.
This is common to many website owners who don’t hire a web developer with sound knowledge in technical SEO.
Therefore, effectively there is no one you can blame.
Why bother about clean URLs?
The reasons are simple.
- a. Search engines prefer clean URLs
Web page URLs that match search queries (keywords)are displayed in bold texts. These bold texts get more number of clicks as the URL texts match searcher’s interest. They find them relevant to their actual queries and show confidenceon the page content and the information displayed on it.This relationship between search query and group of On-page factors ( page URLs, page titles, header tags and page content) is called Information scent.
Web page addresses(URL texts) that are readable, understandable and are close to search queries tend to appear on high SERPs.
- b. Clean URLs increase virality of a web page
URLs thatcan be easily read and remembered have higher acceptability and virality. People should be able to speak your URLs wherever possible. If your customers can recallyour product/service page URL by their name you sure will have better brand retention and higher conversions.
Simplicity is the best:
When it comes to sharing web pages on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or social bookmarking websites, cleanURLs have an advantage over complex URLs. People want these to be shorter, simpler, meaningful and pleasing to eyes.
Imagine, would you be interested to share a complex page URL like this (http://www.example.com/productgroup?language=e&id=5&sh_id=10&menu=resale) on Facebook and wait for some unsolicited comments from your friends and followers? You will never do this.
How to get clean URLs
If you useWordPress as a CMS (the most convenient Content Management System) you can set clean URLs by configuring Permalinkssettings. Choose ‘Custom Structure’ fromthe list of options; type “/%postname%/and save changes to set clean URLs.
If you use plain HTML, make sure you write texts manually for each of the static URLs
Joomla users can use plugins to set clean URLs. There are many available in the market. Choose the one with better customer support and compatibility.
Drupal users can follow the instructions for setting up clean URLs. These are available at http://drupal.org/node/15365. Clean URLs need to be fixed from Admin section of your Drupal site.
However, many find difficulty while setting clean URLs fordynamic pages. Most of the ecommerce sites or product based sites have dynamic page URLs with product ID and different numeric values. In such cases, developers can create a category wise hierarchy and set products by name, ID or relevant texts. Shorter and unique the page URLs you create, higher and quicker they rank in SERPs.
Steps website owners can follow:
If you own a website you have three options during its development phase:
Either, you study a lot on On–page SEO factors and gather enough knowledge that will help you review/test the website.
Or, consult a web developer who also does SEO audit and implementation.
Or, hire a specialist SEO consultant who can do a better and detailed On-page analysis and suggest perfect URL structure. This is particularly important in the case of multilingual or international SEO.
Remember, it is difficult to apply clean URL structure on an old site than a new one since you have to redirect (301)all the old URLs to new set of URLs.This is neither an easy job, nor a long term solution. Moreover, switching URLs now and then is not a good sign.It is ideal that you set it correct in the initial development phase and not after it.