Why you should be using unique URLs

By: David Arkin
September 13, 2023
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When it comes to the steps media companies should take to optimize a story for SEO, creating unique URLS should be at the very top of your checklist. URLs that are short and use relevant keywords are beneficial for both your readers and help your content get ranked high by search engines.

Unique URLs are not meant to be a repeat of your headline, but rather keywords that are associated with your article that a user might search for and that Google will be able to identify when indexing your story. They can work for any story but are incredibly helpful for evergreen content and topics that a media company might have ongoing coverage for.

How do you make a URL SEO friendly?

• Customize: Making the URL specific to the content of your story makes it easier for both users and search engines to understand what your story is about.

• Length: Keep your URL short, under 50-60 characters. That includes everything in the URL including the name of your website. Having a shorter URL makes it more readable and understandable for a search engine to yield search results.

• Avoid Stop Words: Stop words (and, or, go, etc.) are ignored by search engines. In turn, they will just make the URL longer and less comprehensible. Removing these words will give your URL a cleaner look.

• Characters: Use hyphens to separate keywords or ideas to make the URL more readable. Having a unique URL does not change any of the best practices media companies have been practicing for years, like focusing on people, places and things in your headlines or adding solid meta descriptions to stories. Those best particles are are still encouraged.

What are actual examples?

Here are a few examples from small and large media companies who are using unique URLs:

New York Times example

Web headline: Hurricane Lee is now a Category 5 storm, but its eventual path in the Atlantic is unclear.

Unique URL: https://www.nytimes.com/article/hurricane-lee-forecast.html

Why this works: This is a good example on how to center a unique URL on something that someone is actually searching for that is an ongoing news topic.

Long Island Herald

Web headline: Over 160 Baldwin High School students named AP scholars Unique

URL: https://www.liherald.com/baldwin/stories/ap-scholars-baldwin,190260

Why this works: It does a nice job tying to the specific terms of the story. For the unique URL, the total number of students isn’ts as important as the school’s name and the term AP.

Albuquerque Journal

Web headline: How to plan your next biking adventure on the Tramway Bike Trail

Unique URL: https://www.abqjournal.com/things-to-do/tramway-bike-trail/article_a5bb9176-3df5-11ee-b46d-b30d13b337fa.html

Why this works: If someone is interested in going on this trail, a search term they are likely to type in is the actual trail, so having just this in the URL is a good approach.

Houston Chronicle

Web headline: Only 2 Texas schools ranked in top 100 on WSJ’s best colleges in America

Unique URL: https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/education/article/best-colleges-us-texas-18351137.php

Why this works: It’s a search that you could imagine probably has been used more than once and is really what this story is about, the best colleges in the U.S. and Texas.

More info on URLs

You can find more information about unique URLs here:

Vanity URL

Structuring URLs 

Unique URLs

We can help you with SEO strategies

We can help your news organization develop a successful SEO strategy. In fact, two of the examples above (Long Island Herald and The Albuquerque Journal) are David Arkin Consulting clients, who we have been working with to implement unique URls. Contact us at david@davidarkinconsulting.com to find out how we can help.


We’d love the chance to tell you about the work we’re doing with newspapers, TV stations, digital pure plays and magazines in digital audience and revenue, branded content and content creation. Email us at david@davidarkinconsulting.com

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