[wp-hackers] Some Thoughts/Enhancement Ideas In And Around The Category Side Of Things

Mike Schinkel mikeschinkel at newclarity.net
Sun Feb 14 23:23:41 UTC 2010

On Feb 14, 2010, at 5:37 PM, mark waterous wrote:
>> From: wp-hackers-bounces at lists.automattic.com [mailto:wp-hackers-
>> bounces at lists.automattic.com] On Behalf Of Mike Schinkel
>> Sent: Sunday, February 14, 2010 2:20 PM
>> To: wp-hackers at lists.automattic.com
>> Who said it's my only SEO strategy? Please don't put words in someone
>> else's mouth.
> Who's putting words in whose mouth? If you read it that way, I apologize...

Mutual misunderstanding. No biggie.

> And out of all these contexts, where does /category/ hurt you?

It increases the length of the URL without adding context value for the user.  For example, the average user will recognize #1 as meaningful at a glance but a smaller percentage will recognize #2 as meaningful with the same glance:

#1 - http://example.com/news/
#2 - http://example.com/category/news/

Plus users are less likely to shorten #2 by tinyurl.com or bit.ly et al. than #1 meaning links on twitter and elsewhere retain their "branding" and link juice, when applicable.  

It's also easier for someone to recognize #1 in search results than #2 (see below.)  

As a counter example, here are URLs where the first segments do provide useful context:


> When somebody is searching, for example, for a 'WordPress' category (url:
> http://yoursite.com/category/wordpress/, entitled: 'My Blog - Posts on
> Wordpress' ), how again is /category/ hurting you?

It increases the length of the displayed URL thus making the matched part less significant.


Removing "/category" might only improve click throughs by 10 or 20%, but there are some people I know who would kill for such an easy improvement.

There are also times that URLs are so long they are truncated in context or abbreviated, i.e. you might see the following where #1 was short enough but #2 was not:

#1 - http://example.com/news/
#2 - http://example.com/categor...

Since you mentioned SEO, there's lots of collective wisdom about keeping URLs shorter than longer, just google for "url length seo", i.e. 

-- Here is one more evidence in favor of short URL: recent research shows that short URLs within Google SERPs get clicked twice as often as long ones (from http://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-best-practices-for-url-structure/7216/)

-- The result is very conclusive. Both leading search engines rank sites having URLs between 11 and 30 characters (inclusive) much higher than any other URL length studied! (from http://www.ezau.com/latest/articles/0155.shtml)

>> A friend of mine disagreed with me about the importance of URLs as you
>> did. But he recently agreed to try well designed URLs.
> I didn't say that URL design isn't an important part of an overall strategy.
> What I said, and I quote, is: "My site URLs could be all written in a dead
> language, and it shouldn't matter to my visitors." and I am 100% right about
> that, you can't prove me wrong.

Correct, you can't prove such things as stated.

> I didn't say it wouldn't help with
> marketing, SEO or any number of other subjects, what I said is that I could
> do as mentioned, and it shouldn't matter to my visitors once they are on my
> site. They don't navigate via URL. They navigate via the user interface
> provided by the site.

Do you know that for a fact?

What you are saying is that I'll never use your site nor will anyone else who frequently navigates via URL. Do you really believe know that nobody who often prefers to navigate via URL would ever use your site?

Another reason I navigate with URLs; when I find a broken or mistyped link on a site.  Well designed URLs are also helpful when trying to understand where the current page is within a site's architecture.

Yes your site (http://mark.watero.us/) is simple so maybe it really doesn't need better URL routing (except for at http://mark.watero.us/category/ and http://mark.watero.us/tag/), it's a blog after all. But there are many other WordPress sites that are more complicated and that can make great use of better URL design. Just look at http://wordpress.org/showcase/ for many such examples.

Bottom line you might not personally think it is important but to many it is otherwise there wouldn't constantly be people coming to the list to ask it to be improved.


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