An SEO friendly URL will be beneficial for all of your website visitors, including search engines such as Google.
This article will help you understand the correct way of implementing URLs on your domain. It will help your website gain better search visibility because it has followed best practices.
What is a URL?
URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator; it is the address for any given page on the world wide web (WWW). It is similar to the postage address you use to send mail.
The URL for a webpage will always start with your website's root domain (e.g., www.example.com). Without changing your domain, this part of the URL is not able to be replaced.
Having a unique URL for each page of a website helps visitors to find what they are after. For example, imagine your local library combined every book into one; it would be challenging to find what you were after.
Importance of URL Structure
A search engine's goal is always to deliver the best answer to a user's query. To do this, they need to know what information is available on every page. Search engines use many signals to help determine a page's topic, and the webpages URL is one of them.
As a website owner, one of your primary goals is to get visitors to your website, keep them there, and have them come back for more. If your site is challenging to navigate, it will create a negative user experience. As a result, it will reduce the likelihood of return visits. The most important thing is to try to keep things simple and imagine visiting your website for the first time.
Here is a bad example:
There is no way for anyone to know what the primary topic of the page is. Here is the same page made 'SEO friendly':
As you can see, it is now much easier to determine what the page topic is, and therefore, you will know what to expect before visiting the page.
Implementing the following tips will help to ensure all of your URLs will be SEO friendly. However, if you require assistance, it may be helpful to speak with a company that specializes in SEO.
Edit Your URL
By default, many websites will automatically create a URL whenever you create a new page. Therefore, you should always review auto-generated URLs.
Tip for WP websites: Once you have logged into the admin section of your website, go to: Settings > Permalinks > Common Settings and select 'Post name'; Don't forget to update the page to save the settings. This will help you to implement the best practices automatically.
Create a 301
If you have already published a page and Google has indexed it, you will need to implement a 301 if you decide to change it. A 301 is an HTTPS status code that will automatically redirect a user to the new page name. If you don't do this, visitors will get a 'Page Not Found' error page (also known as a 404).
To check if Google has indexed a page, you need to copy the page URL and paste it into Google search and add "site:" to the beginning and select search. For example:
Ensure that you don't add any space between the 'site:' and the URL. If the page has been indexed in Google, you will see it in the first result, and if not, it will be blank.
Clear & Concise
It is crucial to keep the URL as simple and easy to remember as possible. Every word should have a purpose, and if it adds no value, it should be removed.
However, don't make the mistake of over-optimizing a page by making the URL open to ambiguity. For example:
The URL above has been overoptimized because it does not clearly identify the topic of the page. It could be discussing a list of ranking factors used by judges at a rabbit show! The following example is clear and concise but still conveys the pages primary topic:
Separate Words Using Hyphens
As it is not possible to use blank spaces between words, you will need to use a separator. Google has stated that it is best practice to use hyphens to help separate words in a URL. Underscores are viewed as a full-stop by search engines and should be avoided.
Exclude Stop Words & Special Characters
Be sure to remove any words which won't add any value to a URL. Words such as 'a', 'the', 'and', 'or', 'but', 'an', 'of' etc. are all considered stop words. They add to the length of the URL and make it more difficult to understand.
Special characters such as $ and % should also be avoided at because they will make the URL more confusing and add no value to the user.
You should only ever use lower case in a URL as it is standard best practice. Even if you are using a city name in your URL, you should always use lower case.
Every web page can have four variations:
Canonicalizing all of your URL's will tell search engines which variant they should index. If you don't do this, search engines may get confused, and if they index multiple options, your website may have duplicate content issues.
Tip for WP Users: All themes should canonicalize your URLs automatically. To select your preferred version, go to Settings > General > WordPress Address (URL) > add your preferred version here.
Exclude Unnecessary Extensions
Having a URL ending with extensions such as .html or .php appears unprofessional and should be avoided. It will also make it harder for visitors to remember a page name.
Organic Search Results Improvements
Search engines display the URL of a page in the search results, and having a clean URL will help to improve the click-through rate (CTR) of your web pages.
A clean URL will help to improve your website's user experience, which will help to build your website's online following. It also helps improve your search visibility because search engines are more likely to display pages with clean URLs.