Optimizing URLs for Search Engine Optimization

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8 Best Practices to Create an SEO-Friendly URL

There are a plethora of topics covered under the umbrella term “SEO”. One of the topics that can often go overlooked is building a quality URL. A high-quality URL is arguably one of the most important ranking factors in SEO.

For most, a website’s URL link is just a unique address that shows the location of your website. For SEO specialists and digital marketers, however, it can mean much, much more.

A site’s URL can contain a lot of valuable information, not just for web users, but for search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

If you are in the digital marketing/SEO realm, everything is in the details; you cannot cut corners or leave any stones unturned if your goal is to optimize your own website or your clients.

If one of your goals is to get you or your clients ranking and increase visibility, here are some of the important keystones to building a quality URL link:

Optimizing URLs for Search Engine Optimization 3
URL Structure for SEO Infographic

1. Readability

There’s a high chance that while you were browsing a website, you ran into a URL that was filled with characters, and not words following the domain name. For example, “www.horribleURLexample.com/URL#@/23654/example/$”.

Look like something you’ve seen?

At a glance, there’s no trying to understand that URL. If you have a difficult time comprehending and trusting where exactly this URL will take you, and what will be on the webpage. Those unattractive characters following the domain name tell a user nothing about the content and topics that the site contains.

If this is the case for you, chances are that search engines won’t comprehend what’s on the page either. Ultimately, this may result in search engines assigning you a lower ranking, or even worse still, no ranking at all.

2. Avoid Using Underscores

This is an important one because Google has explicitly confirmed this to be true. Google does not like underscores.

Technically, Google treats underscores as a word joiner, meaning that words that you separate with an underscore will be treated as one long term, not separate terms like you probably intended them to be.

For example, “Google_dislikes_underscores” will be interpreted by Google as “Googledislikesunderscores”; not very appealing at all.

Instead, try to use hyphens as word separators like such, “Google-dislikes-underscores”. Google will then treat each of these terms as individuals from the following terms.

3. Include Target Keywords

After you or your business has performed keyword research, including the specific keywords that you are targeting within the URL will certainly help you rank.

Let’s say you’re a web store that sells office supplies such as corporate office chairs.

A URL link such as, “www.officesupplies.com/corporate-office-chairs/” is a clear indicator to search engines that the URL will direct the search engines and users to a product page containing corporate office chairs.

Always remember, the role of search engines is to provide users with accurate, reliable, and valuable information. Search engine algorithms put themselves in the perspective of their users. If search engines are confused by a URL structure, they’ll assume that users will be confused as well. Have fun trying to rank.

4. Add Favicons

Favicons are small icons next to the URL link in the address bar of the web browser. Many underestimate the value of adding favicons, but they can provide a lot of value to front-end users.

Optimizing URLs for Search Engine Optimization 4

By adding favicons, not only does it aesthetically look more appealing, but it adds branding and recognition.

Favicons also help users associate the image with your company in their bookmarks tab.

Tip: bookmarking a website can actually help its rankings also

5. Use Less Path/Page Folders

Search engines will consider the terms in the root folder as the priority or most valuable information.

A URL with too many paths can confuse the search engine, often times. Considering this, you must be very strategic in what you place in the root folder of the URL.

To illustrate, consider this link: “www.officesupplies.com/office/office-supplies/chairs/office-chairs/”.

This isn’t the worst URL link in the world, but there is definitely room for improvement!

A better URL link will look like this: “www.officesupplies.com/office-chairs”. This example will show more authority than the former.

6. Avoid Using Hashes In URLs

The use of hashes (#) is used by some URLs to point the browser to the certain fragment or portion of your site. It’s used by website owner’s to conveniently direct front-end users to a part of their site that they believe will provide value to them.

However, Google has recommended against using hashes in URL links as they can cause errors and malfunctions on the site. Many times the hashes will not correctly direct the user to the intended portion of the web page. This can ultimately lead to poor user experiences.

Depending on some websites, the content on the page may not be displayed correctly if the hash and fragment identifier are missing in the URL.

As a general rule of thumb, play it safe – hire an expert. This will ensure that your site runs smoothly and displays content correctly across all platforms.

7. URL Length

Last on our list of tips is the length of your URL link.

There are a few exceptions, however, in most cases, the shorter URL will tend to rank higher than URL’s that are longer.

Google’s data has shown that URL’s longer than 60 characters tend to rank lower whereas the top ranking URL’s tend to be within 50-60 characters. Try to use 3-5 words to get your webpage’s message across. Shorter URL’s simply look cleaner and it’s less of an eye strain to your users.

A great example? Look in your browser and see how we only used two words in this blog posts’ URL.

If you think that some of your URL’s exceed 60 characters, go through your links and remove any characters that are unnecessary. Focus on keeping only the characters you need to show users and search engines what that particular webpage contains.

8. Encryption

No if, ands or buts. Your website URL must be encrypted with https:// in order to adhere to SEO best-practices.

If you follow these 8 tips to constructing a quality SEO-friendly URL, you should significantly increase your chances of ranking on search engines, leading to more exposure and new users/sessions.

Want us to build your website URL structure for SEO-best practices? Get in touch with us today.

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