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Situation:

We have a website where a link is present with the following text:

iPads & Tablets

This link refers to the following URL:

https://www.website.com/tablet-watch

Question:

Is it acceptable if the URL seems to cover different topics as the Link name promises?

  • Please provide more context. Where is this link, why is it there. I can only guess what you mean now. – Matthijs Mali Dec 19 '18 at 9:21
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Short answer:

It does matter a bit depending on the content you offer on the page, but it might take a lot of time & research to solve it permanently. (see long answer why).

Long answer:

UX perspective

On page UX

I presume that the page you describe has evolved through the years. The link title is 'iPads & Tablets' while the link URL is tablets & watches. It should not matter that much for most users if the content on the page is only 'iPads & Tablets'. This is because you already include 'Tablet' in the URL.

However, if the content you offer on the page is 'iPads, Tablets & Watches' it will create a small problem. This is because the users assume only iPads & Tablets will be shown while they see watches as well. This is strange as I clearly clicked iPads & Tablets while the page also shows me watches. This might result in bounces or might frustrate people.

Now, another possibility is that you only offer 'Tablets & Watches' on that page and no iPads (I know an iPad is a tablet but just using this for an example). This is worse that the previews example. You clearly indicate that you will show iPads on that page but you do not offer a selection of iPads. Users looking for an iPad will get frustrated because you do not offer them the correct content.

Off page UX

What I call Off page UX is the experience that users will have when they are coming to your website from other websites, for instance Google or a link on a forum. An old link from the a forum 'best watches' to that page that still generates traffic will cause users to bounce because your page does not show any more watches.

Now, the decision to remove the watches from the page is more of a business decision / webmaster decision. I do not know what kind of traffic your website gets and how the watches sell 'business wise'. Just giving an example on somethings that can go wrong.

Search engine

I presume a large part of your visitors come from search engines like Google. The URL structure still remains important for off page UX. A study of Microsoft in 2007 found that people spend 24% of their gaze time looking at the URL. This is a fairly high number, so if people looking for 'iPads and/or Tablets' see your URL in the search rankings and the URL of your competitor that uses a correct URL you will probably loose traffic.

Side note: There are a lot of tools that can help you monitor traffic and their original location. For instance Google Analytics offers a function like this for free.

Advanced users

I dedicated a special section to advanced users, as I am one of them. I always check the URL before I click. I know of a lot of other people that do the same, for instance our developers. Users like this might find it strange that the URL you are pointing to does not match the suggested content from the link. This might result in some bounces, I could sadly not find any study regarding this and it is more of a 'gut feeling' (note that my gut feeling might be wrong, would love to see research on advanced users and links).

SEO perspective

Now because this is a UX related question I will keep this part short. SEO wise its better to have a matching URL. However, having 2 pages that show nearly the exact same content is not great. If you are interested in this you can watch some video's of Moz that will help you get started in the world of SEO.

How do you solve it?

How to solve this is a tough question that I can not give you a 100% fool proof answer to. The most used way is to use a 301 redirect to a new URL that matches your link text (so example.com/ipads-and-tablets for instance). However this in turn might hurt users looking for watches from old links.

Some fun reading you can do on the topic of links, navigation & content is:

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It is not acceptable.

If a user clicks on a link with a description (iPads and tablets) and lands on a page that does not shows the expected information (tablet and watch) you can get the users confused or worse you can make users belive your website is unreliable or even fraudolent.

Other reasons you should not: what if an user is looking for "watch"? He just will miss your link at all since he can only read "ipads and tablet".

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Since this is the UX Community, let me answer it properly:

Your users don't care. People rarely look at the url, especially at the ending trail after the root. If people would look at the url, there would be way less phishing. ;)

On a SEO aspect tho, it isn't really clever to link "iPads & Tablets" with "tablet-watch" as the search engine would expect watches, too and might display that page when people search for watches. These users would be disappointed then not finding any. But don't nail me to it, this isn't a seo community.

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    "Your users don't care.", well I care about a URL :) – Matthijs Mali Dec 19 '18 at 9:23
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    Mostly I care, but only to the extent that a link isn't going to take me to lemonparty or some other site like that – HorusKol Dec 19 '18 at 9:25
  • The fact that you are at a UX community excludes you (and me) from almost any general audience. We are mostly exceptions as we (are supposed to) know how the internet works, browsers work etc. – marvinpoo Dec 19 '18 at 9:25
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    The world contains advanced and less-advanced users. There is no need to exclude advanced users. A proper product takes both user groups into account. – Matthijs Mali Dec 19 '18 at 9:30
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    I'm only stating to include all groups. Not just the less-advanced. URL should resemble the Link. That is what is in your answer. That is why I upvoted. We're on the same track here :) – Matthijs Mali Dec 19 '18 at 9:50

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