What is the best URL structure for SEO?
Many of your target audiences will come to your website by clicking on a link so you may wonder if it really matters what is in the actual URL of a specific page.
You may be surprised to know that when it comes to on-site SEO – what your URL look like is actually really important.
What is URL Structure?
Your website URL works as your address on the web. It is the most direct way for someone to visit a page on your website. If you are not familiar with the term, the URL is the thing that starts with either www or https-which is the new standard
You may want to sit down and figure out a standard structure for your website URLs especially in the early stages of starting a website.
Every URL will always start with the root domain for your website like www.yourwebsitename.com or www.yourwebsitename.co.uk so what you want to define is what follows for individual pages.
Your URL structure will directly relate to your larger site architecture. You URL will be a reference point for what is on the specific page as well as helping the website user be directed on the larger website.
For example, the URL for a post on your blog should look something like this: www.yourwebsitename.com/blog/nameofyourblogpost
At any point any user who reached the post through an outside link would quickly be able to see that they are on a blog as well some basic information about the specific blog post on the page.
In fact Google themselves state that:
SEO friendly URLs are optimised URLs that are designed to meet the needs of users and searchers and they tend to be short and keyword rich.
Your SEO friendly URL structure is important for a few key reasons.
First for Google to consistently deliver relevant results to searchers it has to know what each page in its index is about. The URL is one of the most important parts of the page Google looks at to determine what a page is about.
Next an intuitive URL structure makes your site easier to navigate for users. If someone browsing a retail website for clothes finds themselves on the page www.clothesretailer.com/womens/dresses/nameofspecificdress – they know the page belongs in the two categories that precede the final part of the html: women’s clothes and dresses.
Savvy web users also know they can delete the last couple of parts of the URL (dresses/nameofspecificdress) to get back to the larger selection of women’s clothes.
And lastly the same thing that makes a good URL structure intuitive for users is good for search engines too. The search engine crawler can more easily make the relevant connections between different pages on your website.
It can see that a particular item belongs in the same category as other dresses (even if dress is not in the product name) which belong in the larger category of women’s clothes on the site.
This information helps the crawler better understand what different sections of the website are about and how they relate to each other.
Having those extra categories precede the specific keyword or product name in your URL adds in some extra relevant keywords without creating a URL that is spammy.
That gives Google just a little bit more information to make sure it understands what is on the page and knows what keywords the page should show up in searches.
The URL is a pretty basic part of an on-site optimisation and one that it is important to get right.
Here are a few good ways to make sure you create and use your URLs wisely.
A surprising number of websites will still use automatically generated URLs that look like a string of gibberish.
That is skipping a big SEO opportunity whilst creating a more confusing experience for your users.
The first and most important thing you need to do for your website’s URLs is to simply commit to customising each one based on what is on the web page.
As previously mention above this relates to your website’s overall organisation and is an important rule to follow.
Determine what categories and subcategories you will be using and how are you going to portray them in the URLs of web pages that belong in each category.
Do not complicate things here as too many categories will bog down your URLs and make them confusing rather than helpful: www.clothesretailer.com/womens/dresses/nameofspecificdress is an intuitive URL structure
Whilst www.clothesretailer.com/womens/dresses/short-sleeves/purple/floral/knee-length/nameofspecificdress is taking things too far and confusing.
Stick to the main categories that are important for making your website more intuitive in its organisation and be as consistent as possible in the URL structure you use across the site.
Good URLs are short and to the point. Make sure you are not filling yours with any unnecessary words, characters and keyword avoid stuffing. Having the same keyword in your URL more than once would not do you any good.
Most of your target audience will be using links or bookmarking to access specific pages of your website rather than going directly to the URL. You want it to be plausible that someone could remember a specific URL if they wanted to.
Your URLs should be short and sweet. Long URLs confuse Google and other search engines. On top of that short URLs do not just help that individual page rank better. Using short URLs across your entire site can help Google find and crawl all of your pages.
That is probably why our ranking factors study found a strong correlation between short URLs and higher Google rankings:
For every page on your website you should have a primary target keyword that you want to rank for in the search engines.
This should be something that specifically describes what is on the web page and also being a common term used by target audience looking for what is on the page.
Ensure your primary keyword is part of the page’s URL. It may work to simply use the keyword as the part of the URL specific to your page e.g. www.yourwebsitename.com/relevant-category/primary-keyword.
If the web page is for an article or blog post, the main words in the article’s headline can usually be pulled out to make a strong headline that includes the primary keyword and clearly describes what is on the page.
Example a post called 10 Tips to Find the Perfect Summer Dress that has the target keyword summer dress could become the URL – www.clothesretailer.com/blog/find-perfect-summer-dress
You must not include spaces in a URL. SEO best practice is to use hyphens to separate words.
Example – https://emc20.com/blog/seo-site-audit – simple for search engines to read and understand
This will signal to Google where the breaks between words are and make it easier for your target audience to understand the URL than if the words all ran together.
Example – https://emc20.com/blog/seositeaudit – is harder for search engines to read and understand
6. Stick with Lowercase
Most modern servers treat capital and lowercase letters in URLs the same but some do not.
Example some servers will treat these URLs as different.
So to be on the safe side always use lowercase for all of the letters in your URLs.
7. Remove stop words.
You want URLs to be short and simple, which means you never need things like pronouns and articles.
So when translating a page title into a URL structure remove any common stop words in the title like a, the, and, or, but, an, of, etc.
8. Avoid Using Dates
Going back in time in the days when CMS’s like WordPress automatically included dates in URLs. This is less common in 2019 but you still see a lot of people using dates in their URLs and it is a VERY bad idea.
There are two reasons for this:
First the dates make your URLs longer. Example this URL contains a 4-word keyword and the date:
Second the dates make it harder to update your content. Say you have a blog post – Best- SEO-2019 – this is okay for 2019 but when it comes to 2020 – this is going to be confusing for the URL and search engines to figure out the post in 2020 and going forward.
A better way to do this is to remove the year altogether in your URL – to read as Best-SEO.
9. Use canonical tags where needed.
This part is a little more technical but important. So if you have the same web page that is tied to more than one URL for any reason then you are diluting its SEO value.
You do not want Google registering different versions of the same page on your website as distinct pages.
The most common case of this is when you have more than one web page: – http://yourwebsite.com or www.yourwebsite.com and if you have a secure version of a page at https://yourwebsite.com along with the two versions mentioned above.
Whatever the reason you want each URL for the same page to be consolidated in the eyes of Google so that a link back to one of them counts for all versions.
You can communicate that to Google by using the canonical tag on every variation of the page that clarifies which URL should be considered the main URL to represent all versions.
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Wrapping Up - SEO Friendly URL Structure
Once you have a standard URL structure in place, you need some time to plan your main defined structure and picking the right URL for each web page for your site.
Make sure you customise your URLs for the best results to ensure target audience can find you every time. It is an easy way to improve your SEO and create a better user experience.
You can contact our skilled SEO professionals at Best-Digital Marketing. We know how to implement all the necessary SEO strategies and more to enable you to start ranking on Google.
It will save you lots of time and work and will also net better results. Contact us now to learn how Best- Digital Marketing specialist with creative knowledge and experience can help your business improve your Meta description for SEO.
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