URL structure for SEO: The ultimate guide
We all want our website to rank in the SERPs (search engine results pages).If you’ve not taken care and attention over the way your URLs are, then you may be putting your website at a huge disadvantage.
This page is design to help you design the best url structure for your web pages using best practice techniques to give you strong, keyword rich, descriptive URLs.
The truth is your url structure matters, there are certain SEO best practices that are used to help construct the perfect URL
Having clean URL structure gives your website:
- More attractive when link building
- Separate pages with clearly defined target keyword for each page
- Avoid the same content showing up in the search engines
- Make internal linking easier
What does URL stand for?
URL means uniform resource locator (you can see why it’s shortened) and it’s the specific web address of a website.
SEO and search-oriented design are crucial to ranking higher in the SERP (search engine result pages) and how it improves user experience through better site structure and clearer URLs.
SEO tip: Use your main keyword in the URL and page title
Why does the URL structure matter? (hint, it’s a ranking factor)
Simply put, the structure of the URL is a ranking factor. We’ve got multiple URLs on our website and the way yours are structured could be the difference between being invisible and SEO success.
Having a strong, clearly defined, clean URL is certainly a ranking factor, shorter URLs are more like to be ranked than longer ones.
It’s also important that you don’t use any stop words too as this can affect your ranking for the keyword you’re going for.
Get an overview of your URL heirarchy and make search engines love your website
There’s SEO tools that you can use to get a quick overview of your website or any competitors website.
Understanding keyword research and its importance. How you can gather relevant keywords that will help improve your online presence for both humans and bots (bots), as well as create content around those words
Make a website search engine friendly with these 7 tips
SEO friendly URLs that improve the changes of your web pages showing up in the search results
- The shorter the better
- Do your keyword research
- Don’t have too many levels i.e /clothing/tops/jumpers/hoodies
- Just use one keyword, keyword stuffing isn’t advised
- don’t use capitals, this can lead to duplicate content issues
- Be careful using numbers in the root domain
- Ignore stop words, they dilute the power of the exact match keywords
- Be wary of dynamic URLs and exclude dynamic parameters
- Make sure the URL is descriptive of the page
- Be wary of the hierarchy
- Avoid using URL parameters
- URLs can be used as anchor text
- User experience
Keyword research for strong urls
If you just put any word in to the URL is might harm your rankings in the search engine. For example, if we had a page on SEO and the URL is klubclicks.com/seo/ then that’s not really offering too much value as to rank for the keyword SEO on it’s own would be incredibly difficult for a website like ours (perhaps in a few years time 😀 )
Clean URLs = better user experience
If your URL isn’t clear, this could impact the amount of people clicking on it and the people who do click might not have been expecting that page meaning they bounce (leave the web page) after just a couple of seconds.
The URL can serve as anchor text
If your links are being shared around, this likely means that it will be copy and pasted which mean the URL is unformatted, lets say on social media.
The anchor text could just be showing as jumbled up letters if it’s just a random URL.
The length of the URL has an impact on seo rankings.
Shorter URLs perform better in the search rankings.
Longer URLs are seen as complicated URLs to google and they can also be used as anchor text when they are being copy and pasted on multiple online platforms
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Stuffing keywords in the URL can actually harm your search engine rankings. You can target keywords on your page but when it comes to the URL structure too many keywords will hurt you.
Always avoid putting multiple keywords in the URL, ideally place a few other keywords in H2 and H3 headings to help the search engines show you in the search result for that specific keyword.
Never use capital letters in the URL
Using URL parameters like all capitals or some capitals this can lead to huge issues. The web page could be indexed twice by google (because they see it as two URLs which could lead to issues with duplicate content.
We know when we’re searching for things, we notice the URL. There’s just something about landing on a page with a crazy long URL that doesn’t reflect the page you’re on at all.
You want to continuously improve user experience. One element of that is the URL; you can make your website URLs friendly to the user and Google.
Think about it when using a domain with a number in
When the root domain has a number in it this can be confusing to the user. If they are searching for your domain then it could be 50/50 as to whether they choose the version with the number or of it spelt out.
Becareful when using hierarchical urls
You might want to segment your website but if there’s too many categories and levels, site depth could have a negative impact on your SEO compared to website’s who have less levels.
What is a good URL? This question gets asked very often by many people who work with websites.
Finding your URL structure sweet spot
Did you know that adding a keyword to the URL can positively affect your SEO strategy?
Which of these two web addresses do you think will look better to google?
The top URL structure is clearly better.
How should you structure blog category URLs for SEO?
When you’re making a blog, you want to make sure that you have a clean URL structure for each blog post you have. This makes it easier for the search engines to index your website and get your post indexed for keywords
For smaller sites, say around 150 pages or less, you can get away with just having yourwebsite.com and the blog URLs as something like yourwebsite.com/any-blog-post-title/ but if your website is massive which especially means having thousands of URLs then you’ll need to put a bit of thought
In conclusion, if you follow these steps you will have a good url structure with shorter urls that the search engines love. The URL structure for SEO should be carefully considered but you don’t need to obsess over it. Even if you get it wrong you can use 301 redirects to points the URL to a different web page with a more appropriate URL, SEO is all about trial and error.
There will be instances when you might have similar content on different pages and in some cases fully duplicate content. The important thing to do here is to add something called a canonical url. What this does is tells the search engines that this page is similar to another page and that they should rank consider that page when ranking for those specific keywords.
Should i create one huge page or multiple smaller ones?
This is an interesting question as the answer isn’t a one size fits all. The best thing to do first would be check to see what’s currently ranking. If those pages are content heavy then that’s a fairly good indicator that the pages the search engines are looking at are the ones who cover the topic in depth.
This makes sense for you to do the same but you should evaluate the keyword difficulty for each keyword you’re going after. If they are more competitive, let’s say they have an ahrefs keyword difficulty score of 50, then it might be better to do long form content but also to make pages on the separate topic using internal linking to connect the pages together.
Know which version of domain your main site is
When you set up a website there’s a few different variations that you can use.
It’s imperative that these URLs all point to the same one. We’d recommend choosing https://mydomain.com because it’s the easiest, very few people are still typing the www version. It’s simple to redirect, you don’t want the search engines indexing your pages multiple times and having the same content on multiple URLs
http vs https
Every website URL used to be on http but now https (the secure version) has come a long which indicates your website is more secure. However, this isn’t always the case but it’s best practice to use https now as it’s considered as a ranking factor.
In conclusion, it’s not too difficult to get the best URL structure it just takes a bit of keyword research and a clear plan. If you’re a huge website then the url won’t necessarily harm performance as they are so powerful, but for smaller websites it’s vital that your URLs are strong, clear and concise to help your overall SEO strategy get the best results.