Tips and TricksWeb Design

Understanding an iWeb sites’ URL and structure

Over the last few weeks I have received quite a few e-mails asking the same question; ‘when I publish my iWeb site to the Internet, why does the URL (or web address) appear so long in the browser’s address bar?’ Rather than keep typing the same answer I thought I would write a post explaining how and why this happens with your iWeb site and what, if anything you can do to avoid it.

To begin with I think it is important to remember what iWeb is designed to do. Let’s face it, we’re not going to design the next Google or Amazon with it. Apple’s site says:

Design a website to share your photos, movies, and music just by dragging and dropping. Add new dynamic widgets and publish and share with a click.

So we are not expecting miracles here. And this must apply to the URL of an iWeb site too.

When a ‘normal’ web designer builds a site he would first create a folder. Within that folder there would/should/could be several other folders named something along the lines of ‘images’, ‘scripts’ and ‘css’.

Also within that folder are all of the pages within the site (although if there are many pages these too may be put into organized folders) and one of which will nearly always be called ‘index.html’

When that web designer then publishes the site to the www the entire contents of that folder are uploaded to his/her web space so that when a user enters the URL into their web browser the first page to load up is ‘index.html’. This page is of course linked to all of the other pages within the site which all rest within the same folder (or at the same level on the server).

This means that the URL of this site would look like ‘http://www.domainname.com/index.html’ or http://www.domainname.com/about.html’.

When you build a site in iWeb however, it creates a site completely differently. Yes iWeb creates a page called index.html but only to tell the browser that is displaying your site that the first page is called ‘Welcome’ (for example) and that it exists in a folder one level down (and given the same name as your site).

This is why your iWeb sites URL will therefore look something like ‘http://www.domainname.com/foldername/welcome.html’ or ‘http://www.domainname.com/foldername/about_us.html’.

Going back to that ‘normal’ web designer. As a rule (and to make things easier for him/herself) there would only be a need for one, maybe 2 CSS style-sheets. These would be kept in the CSS folder within the main folder and each page would be linked to these CSS style-sheets from within the page’s header tags.

iWeb however creates an individual folder for each page you create and also creates a separate CSS style-sheet within that page’s folder. These page folders also contain the page’s images and any extra scripts that you may be using. This goes someway to explaining why your iWeb sites will load slower than a ‘regular’ site because in effect a browser thinks that each page is in fact a new site. In the image below, which is taken from my themesforiweb site you can see all of the individual pages and the relevant folders for each page.

So what can you do to get round this problem with the long URLs?

The honest answer is not much. You can contact your domain name provider and/or web host and ask them about domain masking. This will ensure that only your domain name shows up in a browsers address bar but that is it. No page names just the domain name no matter what page a visitor is on.

Quite frankly I would leave things as they are. Okay so it’s not the prettiest but then when was the last time you looked at a business card, advert in a newspaper or TV programme and the web address they gave you was ‘http://www.domainname.com/pagename.html’? Never right!! All you get is ‘www.domainname.com’. And this is all you have to give when you want people to visit your site.

If site visitors find something they really like on your iWeb site they will bookmark your page for later, not remember the entire URL. As long as you provide good navigation for your iWeb site so users can get around easily and don’t name your site in iWeb with a really long and meaningless name there really is no problem with the URL iWeb gives you.

In fact you can look at it as a bit of a bonus. Not only do you have your domain name to give you a boost in the SEO stakes, but you can give your site name a keyword rich title too, something ‘normal’ web designers can’t.

I would be interested to hear your take on your iWeb site’s URL. Are you happy with it? Leave a comment.

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21 Comments

  1. My way around it is to just publish to a folder and upload the contents of the sitename folder to my site server. That way it will be http://www.domain.com/pagename.html. Then I use iweb SEO to change the page titles and add tags etc.

    Of course I’m not using Mobile Me for my websites.

  2. […] Read more here: Understanding an iWeb sites URLs | All About iWeb […]

  3. I have always published to a folder then uploaded via ftp. But, here is my question:

    Why cant my home page just be “www.mydomain.com” rather than “www.mydomain.com/pagename.html”?

    From my understanding – it hurts you google PR and hurts you via SEO b/c it’s harder to get “internal” pages ranked. There has to be a way around this. Any suggestions?

  4. I use iWeb to make a fotoblog. After publishing it, I’ve made a homepage with few links (one of them goes to my fotoblog) and I’ve placed it in /Web/Sites directory so it’s available on http://www.goto206.pl without any folders. Of course this site wasn’t make with iWeb, I’ve made it in standard html with small javascript. I suppose it’s quite handy.

  5. I just do what Kerry does.

  6. Ok, so here is my question. I like the extended URL for the search engines to use, but when submitting the url to google and other engines, do you submit as;
    http://www.lowesmobile.net
    or
    http://www.lowesmobile.net/computer_repair_savannah/

    That is my main question here.

    Also I have just found your blog and I must say Koo Doos!! There are tons of helpful and great content here.

    Chris Lowe

  7. this article made a lot of sense to me so i will cut my site name down,now to find out how to do that

  8. So I get the fact that when I want to send a link to my site it will link it like this: http://thewalkforwater.com/W4W3.html and I can’t do anything about that.
    But I’m wondering one more bit about it. If I send a link out of safari or firefox it links it like that BUT–it also generates the subject line. In my case: “Walk for Water The cost to children is unacceptable. You Can Help”
    How does it choose that text and do I have any control over it??

    Thanks!

  9. Recently I had to leave my work because of a bad back and have been playing with some ideas and iweb. I created http://www.offersmonthly.com (hosted on a server not mobileme) advertising offers, i thought the blog page would be a good page to work with. My problem is that the RSS subscribe doesnt work and would like a search box. Could you help me please?

  10. I’ve been working on this site and have tried the same technique as Kerry and Rob, that is uploading the folder contents rather than the folder itself. BUT it doesn’t work for me!!
    When I publish to folder on iWeb, I get an Index.html file and a folder containing the contents of my site. I’ve tried uploading the contents and the index.html file and it doesn’t work either..
    I’m really confused, I would be happy with a URL like http://www.domainname.com/Pagename but I cant escape the long URL http://www.domainname.com/sitename/pagename.

    In case its any help, Im hosted with Godaddy and using cyberduck FTP.

    HELP ME PLEASE!!!

  11. HOLY $%^@!!!

    It worked!!!!! Kerry – I kept screwing around with the index file and nothing was working. I was just about resigned to the fact that I’d have to have http://www.poslifeline.com/poslifeline.com/welcome forever when I made one last attempt at it. And lo and behold it worked. Awesome!!!!!

    Thank you. I too am using iWeb SEO Tool. What do I need to do on that end?

    Thanks!
    Jason
    http://www.POSLifeline.com

  12. thanks for your article
    I am having a problem with duplicating previous pages. When I do, the URL is always the title from the previous page and then 2

    example: http://www.projectk.ca/Project_K/HOME/Entries/2010/2/16_Fruit_Crostata_2.html

    when the post was called something entirely different. I usually change the title right away, before i save anything and they still aren’t the new title…
    Any idea of what is going wrong, or what i am doing wrong?
    thanks!
    Karina

  13. I have been doing that same thing as Kerry for a while and it works for me http://www.westernsips.com but my question is does it affect the css for the site or the searchability with google.

  14. Hi all! I have heard many people complain about the long URLs as well. I wouldn’t suggest using domain masking because then search engines cannot locate the other pages on your site – that is, they will only see the masked domain. Also, if a user wants to bookmark a particular page on your site, they will only be able to bookmark the masked domain again.

    Like Tim mentioned, the long URL is not such a big deal. There is a way to at least shorten the URL, by getting rid of the Site Name like Kerry said earlier.

    I have created a video tutorial for how to do this (using iWeb SEO Tool or Cyberduck.) I recommend giving it a watch to learn how to get rid of the Site Name in the URL and to really get a good grasp on the URL structure of iWeb sites.

    http://apptorial.com/avoiding-long-urls-in-iweb-what-is-domain-masking/

  15. The only way around it that I have found is to go through another application called Transmit which lets you directly access what’s on your server. You can then see that your files are stored under your sitename. You can take all the files out and put it just on the regular website, however, you have to do this each time you publish your site, because iWeb will continue to publish to http://www.domainname.com/sitename, so if its just one page you are updating its not terrible but it does get annoying after a while.

  16. I am creating a website using iWeb and i want the URL to look like: http://www.technewsweekly.com but it looks like web.me.com/mymobilemename and i don’t want that. Is their a way to change that. Please get back to me.

  17. I was able to get my home (or welcome) page to read as above. But I often need to send links to my various blog pages and had to “right click” then “open frame in new tab” in order to get the actual full URL so that I could send someone a link. That worked great until today.

    For some reason, the URLs on the other pages on my site all now start with the web.me prefix and when I try to send the URL as a link, no one can open it. It redirects you to a page that says Mobile Me can’t find the page.

    So how do you send a link to individual pages within your site created on iweb? Any thoughts???

    Thanks!

  18. When you create your site in iWeb, give your first page the name ‘index’. Publish to a folder and upload only this folder to your server. Then your site name will be
    http://www.sitename.com, that’s all.

  19. Some extra information to my comment above: I mean “the content of this folder” directly to your server.

  20. I’ll have to try the publish to a folder trick to shorten my url. iweb is easy to use, but some of the functionality is problematic. I also find that some sites have problems crawling my blog, probably because of the url structure.

  21. Hi all,

    I’m having the same problem (obviously) and I have watched the iWeb SEO tool video over and over but it all sounds Greek to me.

    I am in the process of doing a website for my photography business and I really don’t want to 1) pay a company to set up and maintain a website, and 2) spend ages learning how to be a website builder. iWeb is a fantastic piece of software and makes a really nice simple website. Apple must realise that there are a whole bunch of people like me that have their own businesses and want to use iWeb to do a quick, easy to maintain website.

    Mine is at http://www.steveburrowsimages.com and too keep getting really long URL’s. I want to get it shorter and Rage’s iWeb SEO tool seems to insist that this can be shortened with no adverse affects (ie SEO, not working with other browsers etc).

    I have done what was instructed but I can’t see any changes. Do I have to wait a couple of hours for the web host to catch up? I remember doing something a while back and was told that I had to wait for it to get on to the web.

    I’d be interested in your comments.

    Steve

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