What if someone from Google called you today and told you that your site would benefit from an SEO-friendly URL structure? I'm sure that would grab your attention.
Of course, you no longer need an SEO problem that you need to worry about. Especially if your website contains hundreds of URLs.
Here is Google word about the importance of search engine URLs (yes, they are not just addresses for web destinations, they say a lot more about search engines).
How important is the URL structure for SEO?
As with any other ranking factor, the URL structure does not change your SEO results on its own.
That means it has its place in your holistic SEO strategy. If you attach proper importance to the URL structure, your site will fare better than equally good competitors who are too lazy to work on the URL structure.
This article unpacks everything you need to optimize the URL structure of your website so that you can send the right signals to Google.
URL structure and user experience
A well thought-out and optimized URL provides the end user with a better search experience and enables search engine bots to understand the relevance and context of the website.
Here's an example of a URL that tells you (and the search engine) what you can expect on the website. Also note the close match between the title of the page and the URL.
Such semantically correct URLs enhance the user experience by either informing or reinforcing a promise in terms of the "experience" that the reader expects when clicking the page link.
Note: Google is increasingly replacing URLs in search results with breadcrumb ads. This indicates how the search engine believes the "URL area" is contributing to the web user's search experience.
This also gives the user a bird's-eye view of the navigation structure of the website.
The net result is a superlative user experience. Google wants you to help.
Keyword optimization for URLs
A snap, you would think. Do some Google searches and see how messy URLs that appear to be unrelated to their content can be viewed.
Do not make that mistake.
Matt Cutts has noticed Learn about the relevance of keywords in a URL and how the Google search algorithm helps map the information about the title.
Here is an example url structure.
The correct question should then be: how long should the "pages" part of the URL be?
Let's answer it in three ways.
# 1. The google answer
4-5 words long. If your keyword is 3 words long, you can also limit the URL page length to 3 words (since this is an exact match).
Here again the advice of Matt Cutts on this topic.
# 2. The quicksearch study
And it looks like all the "good guys" are following this, as confirmed Quicksprout Research.
The observation is that top rankers average between 35 and 40 characters for their URLs.
That does not mean that longer URLs are a bad thing. It's just that the algorithm ignores most of the trailing words. If your keywords are planted in the second half, the bot can ignore this. And that may not be good for your SEO.
# 3. The backlinko study
In the research that was done to understand ranking factors, Backlinko found a clear correlation between short URLs and high ranks.
Word separator for a URL
Hyphens? Underscores? Premises? Any other character? Is that important?
Yes this is important. And fortunately there are no assumptions here Google itself recommends that you use hyphens to separate words.
And it's easy to understand why. Spaces waste useful characters and underscores are not as intuitive as a hyphen. Ultimately, it comes down to what makes the most sense, and Google thinks it's hyphens. So you should too.
Data in a URL
Do not add it.
Why? You ask?
Well, there are two reasons.
- If you add a date, for example the 18.9.2013 in the URL, this is 9 characters (almost 25% of the total if we use the ideal number of characters from 35 to 40 characters). Why should you miss the opportunity to tell the reader and the search engines what the page is about and waste them on numbers?
- Refreshing the website will no longer look the same. Content updates are an important SEO strategy, especially if you already have some high-level superstar sites.
Now imagine the look a web finder gets when the URL is something like "www.examplewebsite.com/category/1-1-2017/marketing-trends" while actually using the trends for 2019 and 2020 have updated!
The navigation structure of the website
The navigation structure of the website is closely linked to the URL structure. And I also mentioned how Google replaces URLs with breadcrumbs.
Take this example.
Think about how Google can use the URL to display the "Blog" and "Social Media" navigation paths next to the page title.
For a web user who is interested in social media marketing in general, it means that this blog contains much more content on social media, not just on "growth marketing via giveaways."
Quantification is difficult, but this has a positive effect on organic transport. And all of this is related to the basic principle of making searches highly relevant and contextual.
The golden rule is nothing dynamic.
You have more to lose than to win. Here is how;
- They make the URL longer than it should be. Consider something like:
- Google may incorrectly believe you are copying the content when indexing different versions of the same URL.
- In general, dynamic URLs are confusing and lazy for a web user.
Here is a snap. However, it is so important that I can not resist emphasizing it.
That it's a ranking signal, like confirmed by GoogleReason enough for you to update your website to HTTPS (which of course also affects the URLs).
While revising the URL structure of your website may not be very stimulating, you must first acknowledge that this is important.
In the long run, it will be easier if you adopt these guidelines for all your new web pages.
Also, schedule a timeline to optimize your site's URL structure and prioritize pages that may be outperforming due to their better URL structure.
Guest author: Vishal Vivek is co-founder and CEO of a well-known company SEO Company, Digital Marketing, Web Design and Social Media Marketing Company, SEO Corporation. Vishal is a sleepless workaholic who spends nights in the office and spends risky vacations in the Himalayas. If he does not read corporate typefaces or organized crime novels, he usually finds random stray animals stroking them.
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