Use of full and short URLs

URLs must be naturally user and SEO friendly and follow a consistent and predictable format. Follow these guidelines to correctly use full and short URLs.

What a URL is

Each time you go to a website on the internet, you access a URL.

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. The structure of a URL is generally composed of these parts:

  • the protocol – https://
  • the subdomain – myaccount.
  • the root domain –
  • and the path or slug – /article/2353/book-a-civil-partnership

URLs must be structured and named in a consistent and logical manner to:

  • help users recognise similar types of pages and navigate easily
  • help search engines understand and index web pages.

Full URLs

A full URL is the full address of a resource on the web, such as a web page, document, or video.

This is a full URL:

Short URLs

A short URL is a web address that is shorter than the full web address. It often uses just one word or phrase, usually key words that describe the content of that web page. They are also known as ‘friendly URLs’ and can be useful for marketing or promotional activities.

The short URL for is

If you enter a short URL into the address bar of your web browser, it will redirect you to the full URL page or web resource it is used for.

URL best practice

URLs on all council websites should:

  • be clear, unambiguous, concise, and easy to read, type and share
  • be based on user need rather than the name of a policy, scheme or departmental service, which might change, for example use /request-help-for-an-adult instead of /adult-services-referral-team-ASeRT
  • use lower case words, not upper cases or capitals – our main Content Management System (CMS) sets the URL of a page based on its page title and upper cases and capitals from the page title are kept in the URL
  • use hyphens to separate words so they are easy to read such as – hyphens are automatically added by our main CMS
  • not use underscores, spaces, or any other characters to separate words
  • not use abbreviations or acronyms, unless very well-known such as HMRC
  • avoid superfluous words like a, an, to, the, but, or, for example use /community-meals or /apply-for-community-meals rather than /a-guide-to-apply-for-the-community-meals-service – our main CMS will include superfluous words in the URL if they are in the title of the web page
  • avoid unsafe characters including spaces and “ < > # % { } | \ ^ ~ [ ] `
  • use the verb stem, where possible, for example /report instead of /reporting
  • not end with a slash, for example rather than – our main CMS automatically removes the slash at the end of a URL
  • be in the English language if the content of the page is in English or Gaelic language if the content of the page is in Gaelic.

Best practice for short URLs

Short URLs should follow the general best practice and:

  • be unique rather than generic
  • be related to the title of the page and use words that people can comprehend
  • aim for 100 characters or 5 words maximum
  • use hyphens to break up text and increase readability if the short URL is being used in written form, for example /community-food-fund instead of /communityfoodfund
  • avoid using hyphens if the short URL is being read aloud as this can be harder to understand
  • make sense forever or for the time you need it, for example you may need to include a year (/community-renewal-fund-2021-22)
  • be easy to retire when required
  • must not be publicised or included in materials until you have requested it.

We can create versions of the short URL with and without hyphens if they will be both read aloud and added into written forms.

When to use a full URL

You must use a full URL for:

  • hyperlinks and call-to-actions on web pages
  • hyperlinks and call-to-actions in emails
  • text posts/comments on social media for general council services
  • responses to customer queries
  • call-to-actions on Google, YouTube, and social media ads
  • letters and other printed documents in some specific cases.

In emails and on web pages, it is best to use a descriptive hyperlink with the full URL behind it. This will let users know where they will go if they click or tap on the hyperlink. If they use a mouse, they will be able to hover over the hyperlink to see the full URL. Also, using a descriptive hyperlink is also a recommended best practice for accessibility to provide people who use screen readers with clear and complete information.

Example: You can make an appointment online to register the birth.

Ask users to use the internal search

Instead of using a descriptive hyperlink, you could ask users to search for a specific word or phrase with the internal search on If you chose this option, make sure the right web page(s) come up high in the internal search results to set our users up for success.

When to use a short URL

You shouldn’t use a short URL just because you prefer how it looks or sounds. They should not be a substitute for an unhelpful or misleading full URL. It is important to make the full URL as accurate and helpful as possible.

For example, clearly indicates what the page is about, so a short URL may not be necessary at all unless it is used to:

  • share or promote guidance and services offline, for example in letters or on posters
  • promote topics, schemes or campaigns, for example in TV, radio, social media and in print.

You could use a short URL in the following formats:

  • text posts/comments on social media for campaigns that also require offline promotion
  • pictures and videos posted on social media
  • picture banners and footers in emails
  • digital signage, for example on bus stops
  • TV and radio
  • newspapers
  • text messages
  • printed documents, leaflets, brochures, and posters
  • letters in some specific cases.

Short URLs cannot be used to directly promote any content or service that is not from Renfrewshire Council. A URL must not be used to redirect a user to a URL.

How to request a short URL

Short URLs for are approved, created, and reviewed by the Digital Experience team. Do not create your own short URLs using an external URL shortener such as or

To request a short URL, make an admin request and include:

  • the reason you need a short URL and what the main message will be in your marketing and communications
  • the content or page the short URL will link to
  • how your short URL will be used in marketing and communications including the channels and formats you will be using
  • how long you need the short URL for.

Once you have submitted your request, someone from the Digital Experience team will work with you to decide if you need a short URL and what it can be. If you want to make suggestions for short URLs, make sure they need to meet the URL best practice highlighted on this page.

When your short URL goes live

We will create the short URL once the page it is pointing to goes live.

Because short URLs can only point to live content, do not publicise the short URLs until both the content and the short URL are live. If you do it before they are live, you will send users to a ‘This page cannot be found’ error page.

How to maintain your short URLs

Keep a note of your short URLs and where they are being used. If you don’t need them anymore, let us know by submitting an admin request.

Please note that short URLs are regularly reviewed by the Digital Experience team and may be deleted if they are not being used.

How to promote and communicate a sub-domain URL

If you need to promote a transactional service on MyAccount, you must promote the start page on

Example: you would promote and this page would include a link to

If you need to promote a site or service that has a sub-domain, request a short URL that will re-direct to the sub-domain in the user’s browser.

Example: redirects to