Clear URLs can help both people and search engines better understand what the webpage will be about. But what makes a URL clear? And what is the best URL structure for SEO? Here, I present 10 tips you can follow to create user- and search-engine-friendly URLs.
First, it is worth pointing out that the URL does not always appear in search engine results. Google typically displays what resembles more of a breadcrumb than a URL.
Although this can change, Google search results typically display the domain name and then alter the file path to resemble a breadcrumb. This makes it easier to identify where the link lives in the hierarchy of the site. The full URL is not displayed but it still directly affects what is shown in the search results and can benefit from using an optimized URL structure.
How to Structure URLs for SEO
Make Them Easily Human Readable
Make sure your URLs are easy to read. They should include plain English words with no codes or IDs. This makes it easier to remember the URLs and recognize whether the page you landed on has relevant content for your query.
Include the Keyword
Ideally, whenever you write a new article, you will have performed keyword research and have a specific keyword in mind. Include that keyword in the URL. It is best to put the keyword as close to the beginning of the URL as possible.
Keep the URL Relevant to the Page
Make sure your URL is relevant to the page title and subject. Normally, this happens naturally, especially when you add the keyword to the URL. Still, confirm that the URL is relevant to the page and matches the content covered on the page.
Write in Lowercase
To standardize your URLs and prevent linking errors, ensure that all your URLs use all lowercase letters. This consistency in lowercase will make it easier for you and anyone to add links. Even if the same URL with uppercase letters redirects to the lowercase version, it can cause issues on digital analytics platforms. It is best to use all lowercase letters to avoid any potential problems.
Use Hyphens to Separate Words
Using hyphens to separate the words in your URL will make it easier to read. This way, both the user and the search engine can better understand the different words in the URL and gain a clearer insight into what the page is about.
Avoid using underscores. They cannot be read when the URL is underlined, making the hyperlink harder to read.
Future-proof Your URLs
URLs are not something you want to change regularly. Once they start ranking well, changing the URL can cause a temporary drop in traffic, even if you add a redirect from the old one to the new one. While the redirect helps alleviate any long-term traffic drop, it is best to avoid any decrease in traffic.
To future-proof your URLs, do not include the year or date. They make URLs longer. Leave them off, and your URL can be more concise and reliable long term.
Avoid Dynamic Parameters
Avoid including dynamic parameters in your URLs. They make the URL awkward and unreadable. Moreover, if a different version of the URL gets indexed other than your primary version, it can cause duplicate content issues.
Try to limit your folders in the URL to a maximum of one or two. The folders are the directories on your site where the file for the page lives. So, on ClearPath Online, most pages live in the
/resources folder. Some pages live deeper in the
/resources/seo folders. The deeper the page, the harder it is for search engines to understand its relevance and importance.
Keep URLs Organized
Keep your URLs organized and use a consistent naming convention. Before you start creating URLs, try to have an overall idea of what folders/directories will be used and how you will style your URLs (such as all lowercase with hyphens).
Shorter is Better
Remember, the shorter and more concise you can keep your URL, the better. It makes it easier to type and remember and unlikely to be truncated when people share it via Twitter and text message.
The best rule of thumb is to keep URLs concise and clear to make it easier for everyone.
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