This is part of a series of posts for various quick and easy SEO tips. So far we have covered title tags and meta descriptions, today we are going to cover URL structure. If you look at the top of your browser you will see a URL such as http://www.thefutureorganization.com or http://www.google.com. The URL is the particular address of the site you are visiting. The URL structure of your site is very important for search engine visibility. I’m not going to talk about sub-directories or folders (these are topics that my team of technical SEO consultants will covering on the blog once the new site is up and running), I am just going to look at the basic URL structure. The goal behind this post is to show you the difference between a bad URL and a clean URL. Again I am going to make my small disclaimer by saying that this whole site is going through a redesign so several of my SEO elements are not optimized (just in case you wanted to let me know). Let’s get into it.
There is a lot to cover here and it can get pretty technical so I will try to keep it quick and easy as the title suggests. The URL structure, along with your title tags and meta descriptions (and other SEO elements) should all work together to help you with search engine visibility and rankings. Just like your title tags and meta descriptions your URLs are also all going to be unique. Let’s take a few examples of bad URLs and good/clean ones.
The URL above is what I would classify as a bad URL, why? Well, let’s think back to our title tags and meta descriptions, remember how we always try to use specific targeted keywords. The main problem with this URL is all of those characters at the end, the “?ID=1435667….” search engines cannot interpert such characters for relevancy therefore it is advised to use relevant keywords in your URL that search engines can actually crawl and understand. Let’s take a look at a good/clean URL to see what I mean.
This URL is taken from a page from the site of the SEO team that I run, notice the difference? This URL is clean and targets specific keywords that are also being targeted on the page (title tag/description/etc.) There are no weird characters in the URL and thus it is easily crawled and interpreted for relevancy.
Things to keep in mind when creating URLS
- Try to use keywords in URL, if the particular page is about “discount del laptops” then try to create a URL that looks like “http://www.jacobsstore.com/discount-dell-laptops” as opposed to one that looks like “http://www.jacobsstore.com/topic7/id=%732?” See the difference?
- Try to use dashes instead of underscores in your URL structure. Although Google claims that they have started treating dashes and underscores identically, our tests reveal that this is not the case in all situations.
- Try to keep your URLs short and descriptive. You can use a few words but don’t try to fit a thesis into your URL. Also, the shorter they are the easier they are to remember, there are a few other factors at play here, but these will be covered on the SEO blog (as mentioned above)
- Make sure the keywords in the URL are targeting the same words that your other SEO elements are targetting. What I mean is that if your title tag, description, etc mention “discount dell laptops” but your URL has the keywords “christmas-cookies” then something isn’t right.
- stick with lowercase letters, URLs can take both so stick with the default lowercase
Having a poor URL structure can result in:
- internal competing pages
- lack of indexation by search engines (meaning your pages basically don’t exist)
- inability of users to remember the URL
- targeting/ranking of irrelevant keywords
There are a few other things but I’m keeping this very simple. Again, the whole point of this post is to show you the difference between a poor URL and a good/clean one. You should now be able to tell the difference between the two and have an idea of corrective measures you can take to clean up or create new URLs.
Does this make sense? Do you have any questions?
Thanks for reading!