What’s a URL?

Do you know what a URL is and what to do with it?  It sounds like a stupid question, of course you know what a URL is, everybody does! But you’d be wrong.  Having observed countless users interacting with websites, it is striking how many people enter the URL into their search engine.  My hypothesis is that the URL bar in the browser is something technical and best left alone.  But don’t just take my anecdotal evidence for it, look at the top 500 search engine keywords– in the top 20, four are URLs that could have been typed into the browser address.  Look at the keywords in your web analytics, almost certainly (if yours is a B2C proposition), your URL will come in the top ten keywords for your homepage.

Lesson number one: people are not as tech savy that you think they are.  If they don’t know how to use URLs, what other assumptions are you making about your customers in the product you are developing?

Lesson number two: your URL is not as important as your ability to be found in the search engines.  It is refreshing to see an increasing number of companies not giving any URL in their print or TV advertising, rather “search for us on google using <insert term>”.  But before you go off engaging SEO snakeoil merchants, the basics of optimising your website for search engines (SEO) are hardly rocket science (especially if you are an already trusted brand), and Google let’s you in on a lot of their secrets which is 80% of what any SEO company will tell you.  Only google give it to you for free.


  1. Sarah Taraporewalla · Wednesday, 18 March, 2009

    Another reason for typing in a url in the search box, and not the address bar directly is that typos are more favourablly treated in a search result, than in the annoying dns error page

  2. Julien Payne · Thursday, 19 March, 2009

    Yes but the logic of the blog is sound. Many companies are spending thousands on web designers who can’t even get the basics right. SEO is key to all businesses, a mistake I am beginning to regret now myself!

    I have always entered the URL direct into the Address Bar as I thought that it was quicker. However, some might say it is anal.

    Work smart not hard versus geekish behaviour?! I’ll take the former any day!

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