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Don’t judge a book by its cover; That’s what many businesses think about their URL structure! Of course, there’s no denying that the content of your website matters. It’s what matters the most to both humans and search engines.
However, when competing with millions of other websites to get better rankings, every little detail will count; let alone URL structure that has a huge impact on your website’s appearance. But that’s not all!
Optimized URLs are easier to find for people, the index for search engines, and to read when sharing with others. So, if you are looking for ways to stand out among your competitors, rank higher, and get the desired outcome of your efforts, we are here to help!
In the following, we’ve gathered a complete guide to what a URL is, why it matters to humans and search engines, and, last but not least, how you can create the best SEO-friendly URL structure for your site’s pages.
Let’s dive in without further ado.
What is a URL?
URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator. In simple words, it indicates the location of a resource, which is the same as your site’s address or any other address you use to browse the web.
Have you ever paid attention to links before clicking on them? They are words divided by slashes, colons, or other punctuation marks. In many cases, you can read the URL and understand what the page will indicate when you click on it. It’s an example of an SEO-friendly URL structure.
However, sometimes, when you paste a site’s URL address, you’ll face a lot of weird characters followed by questions or percentage marks. Such a URL doesn’t make any sense and occupies a lot of space. Would you click on a link that looks like this?
Or you’d rather click on this one?
That’s why the URL structure matters!
Does URL structure matter for SEO?
Let me be clear. URL is the address that leads users to your website, right? So, think of it as a home address. How would you like them to respond when you ask someone about their home address? Would you like them to tell you only the name of the city they live in or the exact direction to their house?
A bad URL will only indicate the city name and murmur an unclear home address. At the same time, an SEO-friendly URL structure will show you the exact number and street name along with the house's colour!
What does it have to do with SEO?
Well, SEO is all about making a web page more understandable for google to show to your target audience. And what does google care about the most? USER EXPERIENCE.
So, the more you work on your URL to optimize it for users, the higher google will rank your web page.
What is an SEO-friendly URL?
There’s no single rule when it comes to URL structure. Each website is different from others and has unique needs to be perfect. Therefore, the best SEO-friendly URL is structured based on the website’s purposes.
For instance, the URL must cover multiple languages and locations if you have a multi-lingual website for international users. Moreover, an educational website’s URL must differ from an online shop.
Generally, the best SEO-friendly URL structure must be:
- Easy to read
- Properly organized
- Easy to browse
What is the best URL structure for search engines and humans?
We know that an SEO-friendly URL structure is important for humans and search engines to understand the content inside each link. Now the question is:
- What factors should we consider before structuring a URL?
Here, we outline tips to help you produce a quality URL and optimize your site.
Find the perfect structure based on your needs.
As we mentioned, each website should have a unique URL structure based on its needs and purposes. But no matter the structure, the best URL is meaningful, easy to remember, and conveys the connection between different pages.
Suppose you are searching for a garlic bread recipe. Which one of these URLs demonstrates what you are looking for the best?
So, come up with one that is simple and best meets your site’s needs.
The shorter, the better
Take this scenario as an example:
You want to share a link on your social media, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., but the URL is too long. It takes a lot of characters in your post. And even if you use URL shortening services, the address won’t indicate the website’s content. As a result, many people might think it is spam and won’t click on it.
Even though keeping URLs short and sweet won’t have much impact on SEO, it will affect your site’s traffic. Based on a study of the top 100 results of 1000 keywords, the average length of a URL must be around 35-45 characters. In addition, if you find it hard to keep your URLs short, don’t use too many abbreviations as an escape. It will only cause more confusion.
Pro tip: To keep your URL short, ensure all folders and files on the server are well-organized and named properly. Moreover, hide the unnecessary www prefix.
Use keywords wisely
A survey shows that most people decide to click on a link based on the relevance of keywords in the URL to their search queries. So, choose each page’s URL wisely. Don’t just randomly use keywords in the URL to fulfil your duty—the words you choose matter to both search engines and humans.
Although Google never announced the impact of keywords used in URLs in site raking, many SEO experts believe it does make a difference. Keywords used in URL help Google crawlers figure out what the page is about and index it faster.
So, choosing related keywords will drive traffic to your website and help you rank better in search engines.
Although using keywords is essential to encourage click-throughs and create an SEO-friendly URL structure, using too many keywords will have a reverse result. Google’s recent algorithms strongly focus on keyword stuffing and will consider such websites spammy.
As a result, avoid doing so and keep an eye on the number of keywords you use in a URL. The following is a clear example of keyword stuffing in URL:
Instead, you can change the above URL into:
It’s a clear example of structuring URLs and using keywords wisely.
Use HTTPS protocol, not HTTP
HTTPS is a secure protocol that prevents hackers from infiltrating your website. It can encrypt your website’s data, making it unreadable if a potential attack happens. HTTPS protocol attracts more traffic as users trust it more than HTTP protocol. Especially if you are running an online store or website that enables transactions, considering this factor is important.
HTTPS will affect your Google ranking as it is more secure and trustable. In addition, some browsers, like Chrome, will automatically show whether a website is trustable by indicating a lock icon before a site’s URL. You can click on the icon and read more details about the connection.
Hyphens are better than underscores.
Some developers or designers use underscores for separating keywords. However, Google recommends using hyphens to make it easier for crawlers to understand the page. Hyphens make the information clearer for web crawlers to analyze and get to a result.
Don’t use prepositions in your URLs
Any extra word, including prepositions, must be eliminated from URLs. For instance, using but, and, etc., or, of, an, and so on are unnecessary in URLs. Although they don’t have much SEO-wise impact on URLs, they will make them weird, lengthy, and sometimes hard to remember.
Unless removing such words will make the URL meaningless, removing it is the best decision.
Avoid creating too many subfolders.
Burying your page in many subfolders doesn’t directly impact SEO. However, it will hurt the appearance of the URL, making it long and unclear. For instance, using too many subfolders will leave your page with a URL like this:
So, to get the best result, organize each page in related folders. Be more sensitive in choosing folder names.
Use lowercase letters
Lastly, use lowercase letters for the rest of the URL after the domain name. Because URLs are case sensitive about letters and using uppercase letters will only confuse users. For instance, (www.example.com/Blog/) will direct you to a 404 page, while (www.example.com/blog/) will lead you to the blog page of the related website.
So, in order not to lose traffic and avoid confusion, always use lowercase words. If, by mistake, use an uppercase letter in your URL, redirect it to another page.
Creating an SEO-friendly URL structure is important as both search engines, and humans care about it. Google crawlers consider the URL structure to produce a solid result. On the other hand, people read a URL’s content before deciding whether it’s trustable to click on or spam. So, keep the tips in mind in this article and structure the perfect URL for your website’s pages.
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I'm fascinated by the IT world and how the 1's and 0's work. While I venture into the world of Technology, I try to share what I know in the simplest way with you. Not a fan of coffee, a travel addict, and a self-accredited 'master chef'.