Match URLs to titles most of the time (when it makes sense # matchurl

Match URLs to titles most of the time (when it makes sense # matchurl

06.Oct.2021

When I started writing on this blog, the first thing I read was "Match your URL to your page title."

This is what that would look like:

Not matching URLS to pages.  

As a corollary, you should also match the keywords in your URL to those in your page title. This is called search engine optimization (SEO). It helps people find your site when searching for topics related to it. For example, if you have a post about 'My Favorite 7 Bottles of Islay Whisky' and use randswhisky.com/favorite-7-islay-whiskies as the URL, Google might show it as one of the top results for someone who searched 'Islay whisky'.

Not matching keywords to subjects.

 

Here is a more realistic example:

randswhisky.com/blog/favorite-7-bottles-islay-whisky from the article on Wikipedia about Islay whisky

In both cases, Google might show your post as one of the top results for someone who searched 'favorite 7 bottles' or 'Islay whisky'. In other words, there are some good SEO reasons for following that advice. If you want to learn more about search engine optimization and how Google Search works, check out these links:

 

However, I've noticed that there can sometimes be downsides to following this advice exactly too closely, especially if the structure of your URL is different than the structure of your page title or headline (if you write one) or that might work better for search engine optimization (SEO). This is part of my reasoning for changing some URLs here on this blog:

 

1) To protect the innocent: Sometimes a page title or headline has a lot in it that you don't want to put in a URL, because it could give people extra information about who you are or what your site is about. For example, I mentioned Islay whisky above. That's one of my favorite whiskies and I might write an article where I talk about 7 bottles under $100 that I think are really good. When someone reads only the title without clicking through to the post, they should have no idea whether I'm talking about scotch, bourbon, rye, Canadian whisky... They shouldn't even know if it's a blend or a single malt unless they click through and read the whole thing. This can be used to your advantage (the title is much more interesting than the URL), but you need to be careful. Matching URLs exactly can make it too obvious what's in your post without people clicking through, especially if you want to use the same domain name for other topics related to this one.

2) Different pieces have different audiences: When I wrote about Islay whisky above, my audience was likely other whisky lovers who are interested in really good value bottles that don't break the bank. However, sometimes I write an article where half of my audience is likely to be curious Buddhas and Dogen fans who are fascinated by anything Dogen has said on any subject at all... which would include why green tea tastes bitter or how he taught his students to make a hand gesture for 'do, re, mi'. I don't want someone who has the book "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" in mind when they see my domain name or post title to mistake that article about Dogen and music from an entirely different context.

3) Use your imagination: Because words can have multiple meanings, there are rarely perfect one-to-one matches between URLs and titles or headings. If you can match a URL with a reasonable heading in a way that makes sense given the content of your blog... go for it.

 

Here is an example of what I mean by this: suppose you have a piece with the headline 'How to Build Your Own Geodesic Dome' and you use the URL randswhisky.com/geodesic-dome-instructions. That's a silly URL for this type of article, but it would work fine if you want to give people who are searching for geodesic dome plans some extra info about what they might find on your site.

 

Note: I've also seen other examples where someone has copied an entire Wikipedia page into their blog post as if it were theirs, even though it should be in the public domain. That doesn't make either (especially since Wikipedia is a great place to get content like this and they would probably be happy if you used theirs).

 

4) Make sure the whole thing works in shorter forms: If your URL is really long, it might not work when shortened. For example, suppose I wanted to write an article with this headline: 'Molinari San Marco - An Armagnac for People Who Don't Like Armagnac'

I might choose this link name for my blog post: randswhisky.com/molinarisanmarco-armaganc-for-people-who-dont-like-armagnac

The problem with using that name for the URL is that most URL shorteners will lose some of the information and you'll end up at randswhisky.com/molinarisanmarco-armaganc-forpeoplewhodontlikearmagnac

which is not as helpful to someone who doesn't realize the context.

 

Note: I've also seen other examples where someone has copied an entire Wikipedia page into their blog post as if it were theirs, even though it should be in the public domain. That doesn't make either (especially since Wikipedia is a great place to get content like this and they would probably be happy if you used theirs).

 

5) If possible, use your own URL for posts that are unambiguously tied to one topic or site: As my title says.. sometimes URLs just have too much information..

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