The URL field in the basic tab of the page creation step (for all page templates) informs the URL:
Why are URLs important?
Google and other search engines pay close attention to the words used in the URL to understand what the page is about. Many of your page visitors will also read the URL to get an idea of what the page is about in addition to the other meta data they'll see, such as the SEO title or description. URLs should be readable, brief, and prioritize the most important words for understanding.
The part of the URL you'll write when building a new page is the very end, after the domain and any subfolders. Google looks at the very end part, called the path, as well as the entire URL to understand how the page you're creating relates to the rest of the website and its hierarchy.
Parts of a URL
Typically, when we say "URL" we're referring to the very last part of a page URL, which is known as the path. As an author, you often can't influence the other parts of the URL, because your page sits on the domain TNC owns (such as https://www.nature.org), is in a specific language (https://www.nature.org/en-us/), and sits within a specific section of the site, which is itself part of a larger site hierarchy (https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/united-states/indiana/stories-in-indiana/).
But sometimes we do mean the whole URL, everything from the https to the very last slash (and any tracking parameters you might add for promotion!). When you're considering your page's URL path, consider what words appear in the rest of the URL so that your URL path is complementary, not repetitive.
In this example, the word "Indiana" appears twice:
Therefore, you do not need to add "Indiana" again to the URL path because it's already well represented.
However, sometimes this rule doesn't make sense to follow. Take the following examples. Including the word "climate" in the URL path, even though it's already in two subfolders, makes sense and is even vital.
Choosing a URL
The URL field is in the page creation stage and is one of the first fields you'll complete. Once the page and its URL is published, only publishers and admins can change it. It's not a good idea to change URLs because doing so can take away some of the SEO value your page has built up over time, so please plan your URL path for the long term.
Some guidelines for that URL field:
- 50-Character Limit: The URL field is capped at 50 characters and generally shorter is better.
- Include only lowercase letters and numbers separated with dashes: URLs should be only lower-case letters or numbers separated by a single dash. Special characters (like punctuation and spaces) are not allowed.
- Cut Out Uninformative Words: Cut out most or all uninformative words like a, and, the, etc. These usually do not add value or understanding and can make a URL longer than it needs to be. But if your URL is otherwise short, it's OK!
- Include Search Terms & Make It Meaningful: Include words from your research that your audience will use and recognize. The URL should provide a good idea of what to expect on the page. The URL (and breadcrumb) is visible in search engine result pages and will influence whether people click on the page.
- Consider the Section Breadcrumb: In the case of events and press releases, the pages will appear in a section that doesn’t have the state name earlier in the URL path, so it makes sense to include the state name or some other indication of location (something people might search for) in the URL. For pages that will live in a state section, you don’t need to include the state name again because it is already in the URL.
- URLs should not be changed once they are published. Once a URL is published, any changes require setting up a redirect. Additionally, the longer a page is live the more authority and value it accrues, some of which is lost in a redirect. URLs should only be changed when absolutely necessary or the change will provide more value than will be lost with a redirect.