Every single element of your website can contribute to your search engine optimization. While most people focus on things like keyword density and tags, they overlook a very important element to influence their SEO: Their URLs.
Intuitively, this makes sense to most people. What’s easier to remember? www.computers.com or www.jimboscomputersanddiscountelectronics.com? The right URL is easier for your customer to use, and it gives a strong signal to Google and other search engines about the content of your site. Here are a few tips for how to create an SEO-friendly URL structure for your site:
Keywords and Length
Ideally, your URL would only be one strong keyword followed by a .com — such as cars.com or shoes.com. However, you’d likely sooner find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow than you would to find an available one-word URL that isn’t a brand name. You should make your URL as short as you can, and you should use one or two keywords in that URL. This should be the rule for your primary domain name, as well as the URLs for all your pages.
Therefore, you need to be careful when writing your page and post headlines. You can change the URL to be more SEO-friendly, but it’s a good idea to choose a headline and a URL that are similar. The rules for one work well for the other.
Ending your URL with bass-guitars-chords.com may make good sense for your SEO, but it doesn’t really do much for your readers. Your URLs should also be readable and not just a collection of keywords. More readable URLs will make it easier for users to remember them, which will increase visits. The more readable URLs will also improve the user experience, which will improve your SEO.
Most content management systems automatically create a URL from a page or post that consists of the headline, a date, and possibly navigational information. That’s a lot to pack into a URL.
Instead, you should set your system to create canonical URLs, which include only the headline or a specific URL that you set. Canonical URLs can also combine similar URLs to one page. For example, it can combine product pages for the same product that is listed in different colors. Make sure you set your URLs to be canonical to clean up your URL language and to improve your site’s SEO.
Web addresses that begin with https instead of http are more secure. Https stands for “hyper text transfer protocol secure,” and it indicates that the information being sent between your browser and the website is encrypted and secure.
Because Google values the user experience, it is now weighting sites that start with https more favorably. One easy way you can improve your SEO is to get a domain that starts with https and ensure that all your pages are included under it.
When creating new pages, you have two options: Subdomains or subfolders. A subdomain is represented by a URL that looks something like this: products.store.com. Meanwhile, a subfolder is represented by a URL that looks something like this: store.com/products.
The difference may seem negligible to you, but it is of great importance to your search ranking. Google has indicated a preference for subfolders as they prioritize the top level domain name. You don’t split the authority of the site.
The further your site visitors go down the rabbit hole, the more folders are likely to appear in your URL. The folders essentially show how your visitors are navigating the site. Therefore, the URL might show something like: store.com/products/electronics/computers/newapple.html. The more folders that are included in the URL, the more confusing it will be for Google to index the page and determine its exact topic. There are too many signals in that one URL.
Try to narrow down the number of folders used, and ensure that they each have descriptive names that do a good job showing Google and the user the topic for each page. Performing this job will require that you clean up your site navigation, which should be a priority anyway.
There are a few other things you can do to improve your URL structure, even if they don’t directly influence your search rankings, such as sticking to .com domains and using regional domains to create separation. You may not get a defined rankings increase, but you will convey a sense of authority around your brand, which can earn the trust of more customers (and thereby help your rankings). Your URLs may seem like they are nothing more than functional, but they can actually play a role in defining the value of your site and helping it rank in search. Follow these tips to start getting more hits to your website and start reaching your goals.