As with all aspects of SEO, optimizing your URL’s for the search engines is one which is always up for much discussion. With all the conflicting information, it can be hard to decide what is right, and what is wrong. How long should the URL be? Should the URL include the category? Should you mention the keyword?
In this article, we will take a look at our views on making your URL’s as SEO friendly as possible, and why we think that these tips are crucial if you want the best option for your links. To begin with, it is worth noting that every website will require a different level of optimization to make it’s URL’s SEO friendly, and if you continue reading, we will take a look at some of the differences between each website type. With the visitor in mind, continue reading, and we will lay out a few important ground rules that will solidify your success in the search engines.
Although we mentioned before, that each website is different, and the requirements will differ from website to website, there are a few ground rules which apply to all types of websites:
- Avoid using underscores in your URL’s. While it may be tempting for some, using underscores rather than dashes will connect all of the words, and make them read as one, which is far from beneficial to your SEO.
- To maximise the efficiency of your URL’s, and in order to prevent them being too long, it’s important to exclude words such as ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘of’ etc. If possible, it will also make sense to keep out verbs, such as ‘have’ and ‘are’. These words add no value to the URL, and they ultimately make your link long, and full of fluff.
- To build on to the previous point, it’s also recommended that you keep your URL’s as short, and as precise as possible. Google doesn’t like long URL’s, so getting rid of any unnecessary words will help keep you in their good books. Not to mention, shorter URL’s are typically more focused, and allow you to expose visitors to more of the keywords they are actively searching for.
- It is worth keeping in mind that meta titles, meta descriptions, and the URL are all cut off at 512 pixels, so keeping everything short and precise allows Google to show the visitor exactly what they want to see.
If so, then sticking with these ground rules is absolutely crucial. If you want your visitor to find out who you are, where you are, or how they can contact you, then keeping your URL’s as short as possible will help make their search that little bit easier. A couple of examples of a short URL would be:
In order to maximise the user experience, and to get the most out of your SEO efforts, we recommend sticking to one of these two URL structures:
Deciding whether or not to include the category name is completely personal, but as a rule of thumb, if including the category name will somehow make your visitors experience easier, then by all means, include it. Letting your user know exactly where they are on your website can make a huge difference to their shopping experience. A couple of examples are:
It’s important to keep in mind that some content management systems such as Magneto, will create more than one URL structure. If you know which one you want to show in the search engines, then simply use rel=”canonical” to point them towards the one you choose.
There are a few ways to structure your URL’s when working with a blog, or a news website. Each one is vastly different to the other, so let’s take a look at each one of them in depth:
- Post Title Only -
http://yourwebsite.com/post-title/If the coherence on your website is strong overall, then we recommend sticking with just the post title, if you want to maximise your SEO benefits. Your websites coherence will tell Google what the main topic is, so there is no need to add that in the URL.
- Category + Post Title -
http://yourwebsite.com/category-name/post-title/Similar to the explanation for a web store, if your blog or news website provides content on different topics, then it could be beneficial to include the category name in the URL, to make it clear what that particular page is about.
- Date + Post Title -
http://yourwebsite.com/mm/dd/yyyy/post-title/](http://yourwebsite.com/mm/dd/yyyy/post-title/If your content is date specific, or if you publish daily news, then you should consider adding the date to the URL. This will make it clear how new each piece of content is, and if it is still relevant to the reader. This option can look messy, so only include the date if it’s absolutely necessary.
- Google News 3 Digit ID -
http://yourwebsite.com/post-title/three-digit-ID/If your website is responsible for posting world news, then it will probably make it's way onto Google News, and according to their technical guidelines, you can add at least 3 unique digits to the end of your URL, to ensure that they only scrape the most recent, relevant articles. However, this only applies to websites which post world news, so if you own a general news website, or a blog, then you can ignore this one.