SEO and the URL: What You Need to Know

The URL (uniform resource locator) is actually rather important to SEO. Here is what you need to know when it comes to SEO and the URL.

Most people only consider the content when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). However, there is a lot more to it than that. In fact, the URL (uniform resource locator) is actually rather important to SEO. Here is what you need to know when it comes to SEO and the URL:

1. Keep Things Simple and Easily Readable.

One of the most important pieces of advice that Google gives you is to keep the URL's structure as simple as possible. You need to ensure that humans can read it and that it is logical. So, you don't want it to be a bunch of alpha-numeric non-sense that no one can understand if it is copied and pasted to a friend. Instead, you want it to be short and sweet, memorable and obvious of what the content is about.

2. Opt for Hyphens When Breaking Up Words.

The URL needs to be easily readable, right? To promote readability, you need to use hyphens (-) in your URL rather than underscores (_), as they're easier to read. See for yourself:

Read-this-sentence-and-see-for-yourself.

Read_this_sentence_and_see_for_yourself.

Wasn't the first one a little bit easier to read? This is why Google says to use hyphens in URLs, and no one wants to disobey Google!

3. Keep URLs in Lower Case.

It is important that you keep your website URLs all in lower case letters. This is because it is possible that upper case can take you to a completely different website, especially on Linux servers. Therefore, it is better to be safe than sorry!

4. URLs and Stop Words.

At one time, it was recommended that everyone avoided the use of stop words in URLs. Stop words are words like the, a, an, etc. However, this is no longer the case. As long as the URL makes sense to anyone and everyone, you can use whatever words you would like.

5. It's Okay if Your Headline and URL Don't Match Perfectly.

Some people tend to think that their headlines and URL need to match up exactly. However, it's actually better if they don't. This helps to make the text more varied and concise. Sometimes, it is better if your headline is more complex and your URL is a bit simpler.

6. Get Your Keywords Close to the Front of Your URL.

One of the best practices for SEO and URLs is to get your content's keywords as close to the front of your page's URL as possible. The key is to avoid keyword stuffing and to ensure that your URL is still completely readable. Don't forego the quality of the URL to get the keyword near the front.

7. Make Sure You're Using One Domain or At Least a Subdomain.

Your website is going to perform better in search engine rankings if it is on a single domain or if it is on a subdomain. In fact, there has been research that suggests moving content to a subfolder from a subdomain can provide a boost in website traffic.

8. Minimize the Number of Folders (Slashes) You Have.

Also, it is important that you limit the slashes that you have in your URL. While they won't exactly hurt your overall performance, they show web users that there is a lot going on with your website and content. This can also make it more difficult to index your content.

9. The Verb Stem Should Be Used with URLs.

When it comes to URLs, the verb stem should always be utilized. For example, you should utilize the term "run" instead of "running".

10. Avoid Multiple URLs with Similar or Identical Content.

When you have URLs that have multiple parameters (like in #1 addressed in this article), it can create issues for Googlebots by resulting in the creation of multiple URLs that have similar, and sometimes even identical, content. Google has previously provided a list of how this issue can be created, including:

  • Sorting parameters
  • Problematic URL parameters (like session IDs)
  • Dynamic document generation
  • Dynamic calendar generation
  • Additive filtering of item sets

Luckily, it is possible to fix these URL issues and Google tells you how:

  • Use cookies and avoid session IDs in your URLs.
  • Check for broken relative links.
  • Shorten URLs by eliminating parameters that are unnecessary.
  • Utilize a file named robots.txt to directly block the access of Googlebots to specific URLs.

For infinite calendars, use a nofollow attribute to links for future dynamic calendar generated pages.

For more guidance on how to ensure your URLs are SEO ready, touch base with us at WebDetail and we'll make sure that you are on the right page.

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