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I was having discussion with a co-worker for a project regarding URLs. My question is does the average user care how the URLs are formatted? Whether it's descriptive or relevant to the content they are looking for.

I do realize that a more descriptive URL is better for SEO but I'm wondering about an average user perspective.

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closed as not constructive by danlefree Feb 14 '13 at 1:07

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Extensive exposure to users shows us that most don't know what an address bar is and click whatever is blue or has an underline. –  Timo Huovinen Apr 4 at 21:04
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You kinda know your own answer on this but here my opinion.

[+] Some people like to see the URL name before clicking. (especially on forums)

[-] Some people don't know or care about the URL name before clicking.

[+] Google puts some weight into SEO friendly URLS

It's better to have SEO Urls and here is why!

So you have 2 Positives and 1 Negative making SEO Friendly URLS a wise choice.

Another way of looking at it could be by using SEO Friendly URLS you are:

  1. Your keeping the small number of people happy that like SEO friend URLS before clicking.
  2. You are helping Google establish more about your page easier as well as giving some SEO weight.
  3. The people who don't know about SEO friendly URLS or don't care remain unaffected.
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That depends on the context.

Many users search for what they need and never pay attention to the url. That is especially the case on mobile devices where the urls are usually hidden.

Users pay a lot more attention to urls in forums when urls are pasted in and displayed as the text that users click on. In that case a descriptive url really helps let the user know what to expect.

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If this "average user" ever needs to copy and paste the URL into another context, for example Twitter, Facebook, an email or text message, then it's always best if your URLs are short, concise, and informative.

It's usually a bad idea to include any needless technical information in your URLs like .php or .aspx or even .html simply because at some point in the future if you switch platforms you'll need to create a mountain of aliases for the old URLs which are still used. This kind of information isn't useful to the user, so whenever possible, eliminate it. Besides, it looks like amateur hour.

Which of these two URLs looks more friendly and inviting to an "average user" that doesn't know who or what you are, but might be interested in clicking?

Is it this one?

http://example.com/stories/celebrity-gossip/201302-hudson

Or this one?

http://web1.srv.example.com/cgi-bin/svengine.cgi?category=celebrity-gossip&date=201302&tagline=hudson&format=html

The longer it is, the more intimidating it will seem.

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