URLs—be it of a website or a page—are an important part of your brand’s digital face. While creating URLs, marketers (and in some cases tech teams) sometimes end up making mistakes that may have far reaching effects. Here is a quick checklist to ensure that marketers get these things ‘right’. If you don’t get the following things right, many things are at stake. This post isn’t about ways to create URLs that work, but a checklist to avoid basic flaws.

  1. Typo-free: Simple things first. Ensure that your URLs are typo-free—unless the typo is part of the brand, of course. If you care about SEO, discoverability and search-traffic, check the spelling. ALWAYS.
  2. If you are using a shortened URL (branded or otherwise) in a non-clickable collateral—offline or online—at least ensure that it’s type-able. Here’s an example of how The Hindu goofs up, daily—so what do they expect users to do here? Type this URL on your smartphone to read more?

3. Domain name—as we know—is a key component of your brand identity. Ensure that the string is as powerful as your brand. Even if it is a campaign-specific website, avoid special characters like hyphens. If you are expecting users to type URLs with hyphens or remember such URLs, may God save you. If your campaign is called “Let’s Rock The World”, and if at all you are adamant about have a website with this phrase, make it letsrocktheworld.com and not lets-rock-the-world.com or let-us-rock-the-world.com. UX doesn’t begin after your website loads—it starts much before that.

4. Register campaign and tagline domains—look at what Nike has done. justdoit.com redirects to nike.com—easier to buy a domain and set a redirect than going to court later.

5. Keep typo-squatters at bay: Register and redirect typos around your domain name. Say googl.com redirects to Google.com—it’s possibly a common mis-typed domain when people type “google.com”. Read more on the typo-squatting industry.

6. Understand URL structures. Understand UTMs. Know about the appended parameters. For example, I just searched for Barack Obama on Linkedin, and this is the link I got when I clicked through the search. It has got a lot of details including how I discovered that URL. Strip off everything after the “?” and just share https://www.linkedin.com/in/presidentbarackobama if you are sharing BO’s LinkedIn profile with someone. The same goes for UTMs—say, you get an article on Twitter with a lot of UTMs when expanded and you are sharing the expanded URL with someone else by email. Would you share it without the UTMs? The marketer side of me asks me to share with UTMs as it helps the brand to track the metrics around the URL; the clean-URL-lover in me tells me to strip off the UTMs.

Do you keep all these points in mind while creating URLs? Are there more of such tips that you would like to add on? Let me know on Twitter or here as a comment.

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