A website or blog is comprised of so many different elements. When it comes to optimizing a site for search engines (as well as people), it’s important to pay careful attention to each of those elements. While doing on-page SEO, you need to optimize the headings, subheadings, the content body, the Meta data, images etc.
But do you also pay careful attention to the SEO of your site’s URLs?
Well, there are many who ignore it. While searching on the web, I come across many websites that have complicated URLs (which include %,?, page IDs etc). This is something that’s equally hated by search engines and users.
[URL stands for ‘Uniform Resource Locator’]
When I Set Up My WordPress Blog
When I started my WordPress blog, I found the page URLs to be complicated by default. But I made no mistake in choosing a permalinks structure that was liked by search engines as well as users. As you go to ‘Settings’ and then click ‘Permalinks’, you’ll see a page which shows different settings for page URLs.
Here’s a quick look –
Default – http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=123
Day and name – http://www.yourdomain.com/2012/10/17/sample-post/
Month and name – http://www.yourdomain.com/2012/10/sample-post/
Post name – http://www.yourdomain.com/sample-post/
Apart from these, there’s one more option – custom structure. I chose to set up a custom structure for the web page URLs of my blog. So, I filled out the field with this – /%category%/%postname%. This is something that most of the bloggers will simply miss out while setting up a WordPress blog.
If you are really serious about making your site URLs search friendly, you should never make such mistakes. It’s not just a blog. Even if a website that you are building, you need to ensure that URLs have a structure which is easily understandable by users and search engines. Setting up search-friendly URLs can give you a major boost in organic search engine rankings.
Say ‘No’ to Dynamic URLs
Dynamic URLs are a complete no-no when you want to improve the search rankings of your website. A dynamic URL (which is automatically created) includes parameters that are of little or no use.
Here are a few examples of dynamic URLs –
Though search engines like Google have become capable enough to read dynamic URLs, having such structure doesn’t improve your site’s SEO. Dynamic URLs don’t usually rank higher because they lack keywords and are less user-friendly. Too many parameters also make these URLs look long.
Characteristics of Great URLs
Today, search engines like Google pay close attention to the structure of URLs of a site. The structure carries significance because it tells the search engines what a particular page is about and where it is located in terms of information architecture. By making your URLs search engine friendly, therefore, you can also improve the internal architecture of your website or blog as well.
When it comes to creating great URLs, you should focus on making them –
Descriptive - When a URL is descriptive, it allows search engines to figure out what the page is about without scratching their heads. URLs that accurately reflect the pages’ content are also among the most shared and emailed. While creating the URL structure of your website, make sure you make them describe the content they represent really well.
Short - Length of a URL also makes a big difference. Shorter URLs (no more than 5 words) are liked by search engines like Google. No matter how many words the title of a page contains, you should always limit the length of the URL by including only those words that carry the maximum relevance.
Hyphenated - When a site URL contains more than one word, you should separate them by using hyphens rather than underscores. Hyphenated URLs carry more weight as far as search engine optimization is concerned.
Keywords-Rich - If you want the pages of your site to rank higher in search engines, you should never ignore the significance of including keywords in the URLs. It’s advisable to focus on long-tail keywords when you have a new website or blog. In any case, you should not overdo it as it will be seen as keyword spamming.
Don’t Forget This Rule: ‘One Page, One URL’
When you want to make the URL structure of your site search engine friendly, you should always remember this rule – one page, one URL. If the same page has multiple URLs, it leads to duplicate content issues. At a time when Google continues to roll out search algorithmic updates one after another, you should never make such mistakes. If you have similar content on several pages of your website, you can make use of the ‘rel=canonical’ tag and 301 redirection to avoid search penalty.
If you want your site URLs to receive more social sharing (which is vital for improving SEO) and maximum number of click-throughs, you should always go for a structure that’s short and descriptive. Don’t change your mind if you come across URLs that look ugly and yet they rank at the top of search results. Though ugly looking URLs may sometimes rank higher, they don’t get too many shares or clicks.
What does the URL structure of your website look like? Feel free to comment.