Check whether the format of URLs in a website is appropriate

Screenshot of Sitebeam's URL format test

Why is it important?

In particular, good URLs are easier to email, memorise, advertise and guess.

Shorter, clean URLs also tend to score higher in search engines than dirty URLs.

Good URLs:

www.example.com 
www.example.com/news

Bad URLs:

www.example.com/?p=home 
www.example.com/1/2/content.jsp?cid=23uolk23nl

How is it measured?

Sitebeam tests URLs for a number of key criteria:

  • Is the URL ‘dirty’? Dirty URLs include a question mark, typically followed by a series of parameters. They are sometimes required, but should be the exception, not the norm.
  • How long is the URL? Longer URLs score lower. URLs score perfectly if they are 30 characters or less; this is not expected of all URLs, only the most important ones.
  • Is a file extension used? URLs with a file extension are harder to type, remember, describe (e.g. “index.apsx”) and more readily expose the underlying technology behind the site, which may need to change in future.
  • Does the URL contain special characters? For example, the backslash, pipe or tilde. These are infrequently recognised or understood by users, many will not know how to describe them or type them.
  • Contains upper-case characters. Requiring a specific case in a URL  makes it more complicated and more likely to be incorrectly entered.
  • Contains an underscore. Hyphens should be used in preference of underscores. Hyphens are more easily described and can be read when underlined, as many links are.
  • Complexity. Various measures determine whether a URL is sufficiently complex to be hard or impossible for a human to exchange. For example, a URL might contain a 128 character string of random characters.

Each URL is scored based on these criteria on a scale from 0 to 10.

The final overall score is calculated from an average of the individual scores assigned to each page, weighted by their respective importance.