When you decided to create a brand-new website for your company, you probably didn’t put much thought into the structure of your URLs. However, nowadays, if you want to run a successful website with plenty of traffic, having SEO friendly URLs is a must and certainly not something you want to redo months or years down the road.
The thing with the URLs of your pages is that they are essentially the foundation of your website, and once you decide to optimize them and turn them into SEO friendly URLs, you’re basically choosing to take proactive measures to increase your website traffic and your company’s bottom line. Sounds intriguing, but how do URLs help you achieve better traffic and propel your website to reach new heights?
For one, SEO friendly URLs perform much better in search engine results, look more trustworthy to searchers and internet users, and make it much easier for your audience to share your pages across different channels. In that context, even Google points out how important utilizing simple and SEO friendly URLs is in the company’s SEO starter guide and elaborates on the best ways to implement them into your website.
Having clean and concise URLs that have the proper structure should definitely be a part of your overall digital marketing strategy. But how do you create such URLs, and is there a blueprint you can follow or consider to come up with unique, captivating URLs?
Let’s begin with the good news here: coming up with URLs for SEO isn’t aerospace engineering. In a few words, if you were to depict your site’s page in a handful of words and substitute the spaces with hyphens, that would typically be “a job well done” for creating an SEO friendly, well-crafted URL.
Nevertheless, you would, in all likelihood, prefer not to take a stab in the dark. So below, we’ll cover everything that comes with writing the perfect SEO friendly URLs, the best ways to incorporate them into your website, and everything else you need to know about them. But first, let’s make sure we comprehend their basics.
URL Optimization Basics And Structure
Coming up with an SEO friendly URL for your page is perhaps one of the simplest SEO tasks to configure. However, from an SEO standpoint, in order to complete this necessary SEO step and ensure that your website is SEO optimized, you should first fully understand the URL basics and structure.
Let’s begin with explaining some basic terminology that will help you comprehend what you need to achieve with your URLs. The term URL is an acronym for “Uniform Resource Locator.” In more simple language, the URL specifies the web address of a given page, with each page on the Internet having a unique URL.
The uniqueness is accomplished by the website’s domain name: shortlist.io, and the set of special characters that follow the domain name: /what-is-meta-description-and-how-to-create-the-perfect-one/.
These two components together make up the unique URL for one of our pages: https://shortlist.io/what-is-meta-description-and-how-to-create-the-perfect-one/.
Put differently, each URL on the Internet contains two parts, with the first one being the primary domain name of the website, which is, of course, not configurable, and the second component being the path to find the page within the domain, which is configurable and makes URLs differ from one another. So in that regard, no two pages within the same top-level domain can ever have the same URL parameters.
So, what is an SEO friendly URL? Well, a good, SEO friendly URL precisely describes the page using relevant keywords that are easy to read for both search engines like Google and regular users. So, we can take the above example as a search engine optimization-friendly URL: https://shortlist.io/what-is-meta-description-and-how-to-create-the-perfect-one/. If we didn’t acknowledge the need to put together an SEO friendly URL for our page, the URL might have remained something like: https://www.shortlist.io/Folder/X8772123/312, which would be the perfect example of how your URLs should not look like.
As you can tell, the initial optimization step you can take to make your URLs SEO friendly is to use keywords relevant to the page’s content. Nevertheless, as you’ll see below for yourself, there’s much more than that when it comes to optimizing your URLs as much as possible.
But, before we get to the part where we explain the best practices for creating SEO friendly URLs, let’s briefly review the most important part of each URL – the URL slug.
Why Are URL Slugs Important For SEO?
In a nutshell, a URL slug is the URL section that comes after the first forward slash of the URL, right after the domain name. So, if we take the example from above, the article has a URL that looks like this:
Where the domain name is shortlist.io and the URL slug is “/what-is-meta-description-and-how-to-create-the-perfect-one/.
Okay, but why is the slug so crucial for SEO purposes? As you can notice from the example above, an SEO slug can be a powerful tool for keyword SEO. So, if a user were to search something for “what is meta description and how can I write the perfect one,” the keywords in the friendly URL structure of your content help signal to search engines that your content should be included on the search engine result pages. In addition, a good SEO slug can improve user experience if it clearly states what the page is all about and helps the search engines crawl bots to understand better how to get to your page and confirm its content.
As you can see, URL slugs are also a crucial SEO ranking factor, as including SEO keywords in your URL slugs can help you rank better on Google and other relevant search engines for your target keywords. According to their guidelines, Google, for example, uses the URL as a factor when ranking your page, so if the slug includes your primary keywords, Google will be more likely to rank it better.
Best Practices For Creating SEO Friendly URLs
When discussing the best practices for coming up with SEO friendly URLs for your website’s pages, let’s first and foremost keep in mind that there are no exact rules for the best URL and SEO slug structure.
Nonetheless, while URLs for pages can vary and differ depending on the website’s function and purpose, there are some general concepts that our in-house SEO specialists use to create the ideal SEO friendly URLs for our clients.
Make Your URLs Match Your Content
Just by taking a quick look at your URL, the user should feel genuinely comfortable and be able to make an accurate guess of what they could prospectively find if they proceed and opt to visit your page.
To make that happen, you must ensure that your SEO friendly URL matches the page’s content. The best way to achieve that is to include a term or accurate phrase related to the content on that page.
Make Sure That You Include Target Keywords In Your URLs
Furthermore, it’s definitely a good idea to ensure that each page of your website is optimized with at least one researched keyword, which should subsequently be included in your SEO slug.
In that regard, it’s also worth noting that it’s essential that the most important keyword should be placed at the start of your URL. This is due to the fact that most search engine crawlers don’t grant as much significance to words that are placed toward the end of a given URL.
Use Hyphens To Break Up The Words
Utilizing hyphens (-) to break up the words in URLs is an essential practice for both search engine ranking optimization and user readability and usability. In fact, Google suggests utilizing hyphens instead of underscores in URL slugs because hyphens are separators while underscores are usually utilized to connect words together. If we put it into perspective:
- An SEO friendly URL would look like: https://shortlist.io/what-is-meta-description-and-how-to-create-the-perfect-one
- An unoptimized URL would look like: https://shortlist.io/what_is_meta_description_and_how_to_create_the_perfect_one
Use Only Lowercase Letters
Likewise, you should also use only lowercase letters for your SEO friendly URLs. As search engines can easily decipher lowercase and uppercase letters, using capital letters can lead to duplicate content issues when it comes to URLs and unwanted loss of website rank. For that reason, avoid using uppercase letters for your URLs at all costs.
Keep Your URLs Short And Sweet
The next thing you need to know about creating the best URLs for your pages is that it’s important to keep URLs as short as possible, as most SEO friendly URLs contain no more than 8-9 words.
Put differently, keep your URLs as short as possible, and try to squeeze your target keywords near the front.
Avoid Including Dates In Your URLs
In case you want a landing page, blog post content page, or product page to rank in search engines in the short term, then, sure, go ahead and include a date in your URL slugs. However, if you intend your content to remain relevant for extended periods, including dates in your URLs can hinder your ranking efforts.
The bottom line is that numbers are extraneous; they extend the URLs unnecessarily and certainly don’t help a search engine or user understand the page.
The Bottom Line
By working on your URLs and making them SEO friendly, you not only tell searchers and users what your website content is all about, but you’re also notifying search engines like Google and Yahoo how valuable, and relevant your content is.
The sooner your wrap your thoughts around the fact that SEO friendly URLs are a type of technical SEO factor that’s just as important to optimize as the rest of your content, the better job you’ll do when it comes to your on-page optimization process.
However, if you’re unsure where to go from here or want a specialized SEO marketing agency to do the heavy lifting for your website, feel free to schedule a call with one of our SEO experts for advice and other consultation.