ABC’s of SEO – U = How to create SEO friendly URL structures
URLs are the building blocks of SEO and by ensuring you get this right, you’re on your way to SEO success.
I’m sure many of you have found that as you look within search engine rankings, sites which possess a hierarchical model including optimal keyword usage within page names tend to come out on top.
Your address is one of the key elements that you can optimise to help your SEO activities. You want to include your most important keyword for your business here, which is obviously easier if you’re starting from scratch. If that is the case, then by simply performing some keyword research you can target your URL name around your findings. On a side note you want to stick with .com and .org sites as they offer better authority (if you’re feeling insecure about competitors stealing other domains, by all means feel free to buy .net etc.)
This is something that Google have paid a lot of attention to, preferring a site architecture which pursues the route of methodical category listings. The main idea here is to clearly guide the user through the journey of the site.
Here’s an example –
Even though it’s important to clearly divide the categories in hierarchical model, do remember to stay within 3 folders of the main site root. By doing this you are clearly showing search engines what you believe to be the most important categories on your site as well as being able to strategically place importance on the keywords you’re focusing on. One last point is to refrain from keyword stuffing, as placing too many keywords won’t help yourself or the search engines.
Here’s an area which we see a lot of mistakes and errors made by site owners forgetting the foundations of the page.
Analyse your keyword research and centre your page name on the top keywords and if you are dealing more so with products then consider a specific term plus the product name.
We do also receive questions as to whether hyphens and underscores in URLs are read by Google. The answer is yes, however we do prefer using hyphens for readability and please remember that leaving spaces, or even none at all will cause great confusion to deciphering the meaning of your page/ category.
The best thing here to opt for is to not have file extensions as there is no SEO value in having them. If your site is going to be around for a long time then you will probably end up changing between different languages causing you to place redirects affecting your link equity.
Another point here is that if you are using file extensions, be consistent with your usage by placing it or not on all of your URLs. Finally, make sure you use regular extensions such as .html and .php rather than .dll or .exe as they can be ignored by search engine crawlers.
If you plan to insert numbers into your pages then please do note that if the sequence of numbers you intend to use looks like a date, search engines might interpret it as such therefore causing confusion to its actual freshness. Our advice would be to avoid this type of situation if at all possible.
As you are well aware, URLs can be constructed using upper-case, lower-case or even a mixture of both. Our advice is to keep things simple by using only lower-case typing as any capitals make things unnecessarily complicated and you run the risk of losing visitors to your site.
URL length is another element to consider, where we truly believe less is more. 5 words is your target limit and if you can get it lower, even better! Remember to avoid using stop words or abbreviations as these will hinder your SEO efforts. It’s important to point out that Google can handle long URLs however from experience it’s better to keep it below 60 characters.
When your site has been around for a while you’ll probably need or want to make changes to it. One safety net when you do this is to place a 301 redirect from the old page to the new one.
In short, the idea is all about delivering a clear pathway through your site, one that makes sense with relevant targeted keywords which in the end will provide benefits to your SEO efforts.