What does URL mean?
Uniform Resource Locator
Okay, in plain English, what does URL mean?
What is a URL?
URL is just a fancy, though abbreviated way, of saying "website address".
Typically speaking, when someone asks for a "website" they'll just give you the domain name, eg: www.amazon.com
If someone is asking for (or giving) a URL, they're wanting the full address, so for instance "What's the URL for that book by Pepe the Prawn?", "It is http://www.amazon.com/Its-Hard-Out-Here-Shrimp/dp/B0023RSZNW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274221813&sr=8-1"
How do you pronounce URL?
It is spelled out: U... R... L.
It's not pronounced "Earl".
URL Naming Protocols
This can get really detailed and even debatable when it comes to your own websites and blogs, so for the purposes of this hub we'll just be looking at how to select URLs for your hubs. What's best, what'll work, and what's the tidiest way of doing it.
Underscore versus Hyphen versus No Space At All
There seems to be a bit of confusion as to the most effective URL naming protocol and to make matters a little more complicated, I strongly believe that the hub claiming system that is in place is making things a little... messy.
Lets look first at the most common methods of URL structure. Here we three contenders:
Let me first say, I personally don't believe that any have a clear advantage, in terms of SEO, over any other. Yes, there are arguments for and against each, but search engines can figure each and every one of those out. Combine any of those with a corresponding or even a slightly different title, and the results should be the same. In fact, you could have hubpages.com/hub/page-one-of-fifty and as long as your title is top notch, you shouldn't be greatly disadvantaged. At least when it comes to search engine indexing.
If you do a search on Google to find out which is the best, you may find some will say that search engines recognise the hyphen as a space, but not so much for the underscore. But Wikipedia have always used underscores. And last time I checked Wikipedia pretty much dominated the SERPS.
For me it comes down to personal taste. I like it short and sweet. I'll explain why in a minute. So if I'm going to have one word, it's of course going to lack hyphens or underscores. If it's going to have two words... I'm a little torn. runthemtogether? Or divide-them-apart?
If it's three or more words, I opt for hyphens. Because I'm thinking visually, it's easier for a person to understand the sentence when there's an obvious 'space' between each word.
Okay, back to why short and sweet?
I have a hub titled "Cool Fonts - Where to Download & How to Install".
Now I could have claimed the URL hubpages.com/hub/cool-fonts-where-to-download-and-how-to-install
But I didn't.
I went with hubpages.com/hub/fonts
The reason I did it that way is that via word of mouth "hubpages dot com slash hub slash fonts is a lot easier for a person to say to another person "here's a cool place to find free fonts!"
Occasionally on the radio you'll hear a host mention a website or even a whole URL. I think it has happened at least once with a hub if I recall correctly. Not mine, but someone else.
Can you imagine the radio host saying "hubpages dot com slash hub slash cool hyphen fonts hyphen where hyphen to hyphen download hyphen and hyphen how hyphen to hyphen install"?
What a mouthful!
If a person is emailed hubpages.com/hub/cool-fonts-where-to-download-and-how-to-install it explains the content a lot better than hubpages.com/hub/fonts and it's far more readable than hubpages.com/hub/coolfontswheretodownloadandhowtoinstall but I am prone to having fantasies that people will mention my hub in conversation. Well I do. As I am probably the designated geek for a radius of 100kms where I live people do ask me about computer viruses and fonts and other computer related stuff, so I tell them go check out "hubpages.com/hub/fonts"! (and just quietly, I don't even mention I wrote the hub on it).
I don't stick to one hard and fast way of doing things. It depends on whether or not I can get the short and sweet URL or if it's appropriate. hubpages.com/hub/antivirus wasn't available so I went with hubpages.com/hub/free-antivirus-software a bit more of a mouthful to mention, but I've emailed that quite a few times after people have asked if I know of any free anti-virus protection. I'll get their email address and when I get home I'll send it off. With a bit of luck it could also spread via word of mouse... that the person forwards the email to their friends.
I much prefer lowercase for the entire URL. That's my personal preference.
If using capitals you should be aware that when some people repeat an email or a webpage they'll repeat it verbatim. That is to say that they also tell them which words to capitalize. Even though it doesn't effect email addresses or most webpages.
For instance, a person says to another that their email address is MyName@hotmail.com and an email to firstname.lastname@example.org will work, but they'll specifically spell out the whole email WITH the capitals: "capital m, y, capital n, a, m, e" instead of "myname".
Some systems of old needed the right, specific string of characters for the mail to get through, but 99% of the time nowadays it doesn't matter. And when I tell people "email@example.com" will work I've been told "no, it has to be this way!".
The same applies to webpages. And seeing that hubpages doesn't NEED a person to get those capitals right for the webpage to resolve properly, avoid confusion by not having it in there in the first place.
So instead of spelling out "hubpages dot com slash hub slash free dash antivirus dash software dash" (which is mouthful, but still straight forward) they'd be saying "hubpages dot com slash hub slash Free with a capital F dash Antivirus with a capital A dash Software with a capital S"
It of course doesn't matter to HubPages but for some sites it does so some people are in the habit of being sure they're 100% correct in repeating a URL.
I've seen (and heard) it happen over the phone and also in offices from one cubicle to another.
The Title is more important than the URL
Search engines regularly crawl and index, and even rank highly, forum threads. Even now most forum software will have the URL as a number, eg: http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/37414
When troubleshooting computer problems, I find some of the best advice, and coincidentally the highest ranked pages, can be forum threads.
Make sure your title is relevant and descriptive. Remember, the title shows up predominantly in search results pages. Choose popular keywords. It doesn't have to be hugely popular, but pick a phrase that people are actually searching for.
But still, have it in the URL for the sake of the humans who might be copying, pasting and sending it to friends via email or spelling it out to them over the phone.
So while I believe strongly that the title is more important than the URL, don't waste the opportunity to get the best URL you can.
Keep it meaningful, as a matter of habit. Keep it lean, if you want. But certainly keep it clean. When I tell or email a person a hub (whether it be mine or someone elses) I don't want any mistakes. I want the person to get to the hub with a minimum of fuss. So put some thought into it early, because it's the first thing you've got to do when you're building a hub.