URL Best Practice .

URLBestPractice_Dec17

Something that is commonly overlooked when it comes to SEO and good website practice is URLs and ensuring that they are structured correctly. The following points are a few of what I believe to be the most important to consider when creating new pages and blogs for your website.

Keep it short

It’s easy to get carried away when structuring your URLs but it’s important to keep them short, sweet and direct. The shorter your URL, the more likely it is to show up on search results and therefore searchers are more likely to click through to it.

Use HTTPS

Using HTTPS means that your website data is encrypted and this means that your website is protected from cyber crime, it also has the added benefit of being preferred by Google. Having a HTTPS URLs will assure visitors that your website is secure, especially if you’re an ecommerce site.

Use keywords but don’t overdo it

Whilst using keywords is a good way to appear in search rankings as they clearly indicate what the user can expect to find on the page, overdoing it can have a negative effect. Long-gone are the days in which search engines rewarded keyword repetition, now websites are penalised for this. Make your content and links relevant and engaging.

Avoid spaces

Spaces can be used to separate words in your URL but they are often awkwardly replaced by which, whilst recognised by search engines, is unappealing to users. Hyphens and underscores are preferred word separators as they help break up the URL and are equally recognised by search engines.

Match URLs to titles

The most straightforward way to name your URLs is in accordance with the titles of your pages and blogs. For instance, if you’re writing a blog on ‘the importance of using keywords’ your URL would ideally read: yourdomain/the-importance-of-using-keywords.

Avoid multiple redirections

If one URL redirects to another that’s fine, however if a chain persists when URL A links to URL B and then URL B to URL C and so on this can have a negative impact on your search rankings as platforms such as Google will deem the final URL as less important. Instead simply link URL A to C to avoid confusion.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
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Naomi Harper
Head of Marketing & Communications
Naomi is the agency's Head of Marketing & Communications with a strong background in Public Relations, events, Marketing and Brand campaigns.

Naomi joined Sagittarius in January 2021 to deliver exceptional external brand experiences, engaging internal communications and to assist with the driving of sales and the developing of relationships with key strategic suppliers.
 

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Naomi Harper

05 Dec 2017 - 5 minute read
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