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When it comes to SEO, there are lots of details to keep track of.
From page titles to image alt text, there are many details you need to manage. In fact, it’s easy to get overwhelmed!
That’s why in this post, we’ll be talking about the best SEO URL structure for your website.
Using a good URL structure boosts SEO. It also boosts user experience.
On top of that, I’ll show you why understanding SEO URL structures are important, how URLs affect SEO and provide examples of URLs.
Keep reading to learn more.
What is a URL?
A URL is the address of a web page, and you can also use it to identify a specific Web page or piece of content on the internet.
This is why the URL of a web page is so important it links back to a specific piece of content. This makes it easy to link to that page from any external website.
URLs are necessary in order for users and search engines to be able to find and access web pages and files.
A URL is made up of many different parts – the most important being a combination of letters and numbers. However, when you understand how a URL is structured, it becomes much easier to understand.
To understand how a URL is structured, you need to know which parts are significant and which parts aren’t.
What is URL Structure?
Although URL structure is commonly misunderstood and overcomplicated, it’s incredibly important.
Wikipedia describes it as a representation of Resource Locator (URL) used to locate an Internet resource.
It’s how browsers and search engines know how to find your website. The structure acts as a bridge between your web content and web browsers or search engines.
Bottom line: Without it, you literally could not exist in the virtual world.
Let’s break down the fundamental components of URL structure:
Uniform Resource Locator (URL): A section of the URL that identifies where the resource is accessible from, how it should be accessed, what protocol to use, and how to resolve any relative links to your site.
Absolute URL: An URL that is not dependent on where it’s located. It’s more location-independent.
Relative URL: A URL that locates a resource in relation to the URL. This is not to be confused with the ‘absolute URL’ mentioned above.
Path: A way to refer to specific resources within a site, such as /videos/.
URL Parameters: A text string that is passed to a software component or script as a variable.
They usually start with ?’ and are found at the end of URLs. Example: ?id=32&mode=play
With text strings acting as variables, URLs become a flexible link.
In general, URL structure is incredibly important. However, it seems as if people consider it unimportant more frequently than not.
It can turn site visitors into customers, but your site’s design and layout are just as important.
And when it comes to the industry, way too many businesses forget the importance of keyword usage and making it easier to read. Backlinks are overvalued.
Some claim that layout is the most critical aspect of SEO, while others believe that backlinks are most important.
In reality, there is no right or wrong answer. What we know for sure is that URL structure is required for your website
Why Does A URL Structure Important for SEO?
A URL structure is important if you want to optimize your website for search engines. A URL structure is important because it’s what search engines will use to find your website, and it’s what users will see when they link to your website.
The URL structure of your website is made up of three parts:
Name, Protocol, and Directory. The first two fields – name and protocol – will be the same for every URL on your website. The third field – directory – will be different for every URL.
The name and protocol fields are completely up to you. The name field will be the name of your website or product, and the protocol field is the protocol that your website uses to communicate over the Internet. For example, if you host your website on WordPress, your protocol will be HTTPS.
The directory field is the part of the URL that search engines and users will both see. The directory field is always separated by the slash character (/). It’s up to you what directory your website uses, but it’s recommended that you use a subdirectory structure.
A subdirectory structure means that your website will have multiple folders, each dedicated to a different element of your website. For example, your website may have one folder for your blog posts, one folder for your products, and so on.
What’s the Best URL Structure for SEO?
The URL structure for your website is a critical component of your SEO strategy – yet, it is often overlooked.
Do a quick audit of your site’s URL structure. Typically, a website will use either a www or non www URL structure.
If you only have a www version, you would need to rewrite the non www version to the www version.
Again, it’s important to remember that the URL structure can impact your SEO.
The URL structure of your website includes things like the parameters, numerical IDs, display names, and the URLs themselves. There are tons of variables that can go into how you structure your URLs for SEO, but here are some main points to keep in mind:
If possible, stay away from query strings that contain parameters. Parameters or variables are often looked at as spam, since they don’t add any value to the user experience.
As a small business, it’s often tempting to use numerical IDs in your URLs to help track or organize webpage content. However, keep these parameters to a minimum. Too many parameters can be distracting for users.
A display name should be clear and concise. The display name should only be important if it is used in the HTML structure of a webpage. The display name should be included in the H1 tag, but not used for website links.
Instead of /printables/ 150/ linkedin-article-template/, consider using printables/article-template-150/.
Avoid using titles like “Home” in the URL of the page. The name of the page on your site should be readable, and trustworthy and add visibility to the content, not display a specific type of page. Instead of /home/, consider /blog/ or /blog/post/, where “post” is a numerical ID.
If you must use a direct URL link to a page on your website, you’ll want to add content around the link itself. This can help users know what the link is about.
Helpful SEO Tips and The Best Practice for Creating a Good URL Structure
The URL structure is one of the first things marketers look at when they launch a new website.
When you are running an SEO campaign, your URL structure can affect the way you rank for certain keywords.
It’s important to choose wisely when you are thinking about the URL structure for your website.
Let’s go through some of the important things you need to consider:
Keep your URLs short.
Remember that Google and other search engines won’t show more than about 70 characters in your Google search results. Keywords in URLs or in the domain name are an important part of determining the rankings of your business.
Ideally, you want a URL that’s easy to type and easy to remember. Long and hard-to-remember URLs may dissuade your users from visiting your website.
Choose a clean structure.
When users visit your website, you want the experience to be simple and easy.
Keep your URLs clean, use lowercase letters and numbers, and avoid punctuation or special characters. This will help users navigate your website better.
Also, when users consult Google, you want them to be able to tell what you do with the URL.
Choose carefully where you place your keywords.
When you are writing your blog posts, it’s important to remember where you place your keywords.
Try to place the keyword in the first few words of the URL. Also, make sure that you don’t place too many keywords in your URL.
Avoid mixing your keywords in URL with numbers, and try to avoid capitalizing the first letter in your company name.
Use hyphens instead of underscores to separate words.
Use hyphens instead of underscores to separate words from your URL. For example, use “mydomain.com-products.com” instead of “mydomain.com_products.com.” This will make your URLs easier to read and remember. Additionally, it will help prevent your site from being confused with other URLs that may have the same name.
Keep it organized.
When users are reading your website, you want them to be able to easily find the information they are looking for.
Keeping an organized URL structure will help your users navigate through your website and navigate to the information they need.
Use Keyword as a part of the page URL.
When you want to promote or sell a product or service, it’s important to use the right keywords in the URL. The best way to do this is to use the keyword as a part of the page URL. This way, you can ensure that your website is indexing well for the keyword and that people are able to find it easily.
Make sure your URL is relevant to the website page title and the meta description.
When you create a website, you need to make sure that your URL is relevant to the page title and meta description. Your URL is the address that people type into their browsers to reach your website.
The page title is the title of the page that appears in the browser title bar. It should be descriptive and make your page stand out from the other pages on the website. The meta description is a short, non-visible description of your website that appears below the search engine results. It’s important that your meta description be Specific, Concise, and Optimized for SEO.
Avoid using too many redirects.
Instead of redirecting URLs, try using 301 redirects. 301 redirects tell the browser to permanently redirect a URL to a new URL without reloading the page. This will keep your website running faster and ensure that users are always directed to the correct page.
Talk to your SEO team.
Since the structure and design of a website affect how it ranks in Google, it’s important that you have an expert look at your URL structure before you publish your website.
They will make sure that your URL structure makes sense and is optimized for search engine optimization.
Difference Between Static URLs vs Dynamic URLs
You know those links you see in your emails: http://www.google.com?…
Those are known as query strings.
They are a way to add parameters to the URL, and they help control parts of your website.
But what happens when Google identifies these as duplicate content?
The short answer: You lose ranking in the search results.
Longer answer: Google looks at dynamically-generated pages as duplicate content, which means they are problematic because Google gets confused when it comes to those URLs.
See a result for a query, then see the same content again in a dynamically-generated URL – this confuses Google, which can result in a lower search rank.
This is why we recommend you choose static URLs over dynamic URLs.
If your site offers informational and relevant content, then you will want to choose static URLs over dynamic URLs.
Google tries to allow users to understand what they are about to find before clicking on the link.
Subdomains vs Subfolders URL Structure
In a multisite WordPress network, you can choose to either create a subdomain or subfolder for a new site.
When you create a subdomain, it creates a new domain that is not linked to the original domain and it covers multiple websites.
When you choose to create a subfolder, it creates a new site on the same domain and it uses subfolders to organize its site content.
In this way, it is easier to migrate your sites to new top-level domains, as well as share site content with other sites in your WordPress network.
The decision between subdomain vs subfolders is really up to the specific nature of your WordPress site, as it comes down to your website content, audience and goals.
To help you make a decision, here are some potential pros and cons for each one:
Click Depth vs URL Structure
We received a lot of questions from our readers about page clicks and SEO links.
One big question about SEO links is whether click depth or URL structure matters more.
As you can guess, the answer is it depends, because in some cases, neither does.
For instance, if you’re linking to internal pages, neither the URL structure nor the click depth matters at all.
However, when it comes to external links, your link-building strategy will depend on whether you care more about click depth or URL structure.
A silo structure of click depth refers to the depth of links that linkers place in their content.
When creating content, you generally write about its immediate topics. So, if that content gets linked to, those links make a sharp jump upward.
The more vertical the silo is, the more shallow the click depth is.
If you have deep internal links (one page links to another), then the links in your content will be shallow. If you have your link structure deeply organized, the clicks will be deeper.
Now, this is unlikely to change because these pages will not change. On the flip side, if your website continues to grow, your links should be assuming a higher click depth.
A silo structure of URL structure refers to the level of depth the site owner organizes the link structure.
This is theoretically the strongest SEO structure you can implement.
Let’s say you are writing an article for an article directory. It’s fine to link to other resources in your article’s footer.
However, if you have specific anchor text in mind and link to a specific anchor text within the article, “Your local SEO service will be important to your local business’s success,” we are talking about using anchor text to manipulate your link juice flow the way an SEO would want to.
Trailing Slash vs No Trailing Slash URL Structure
Trailing slash vs. no trailing slash (URL). The debate between these two has raged on since 2005.
Google twice confirmed it over three years ago. In 2016, Matt Cutts confirmed it again.
However, that didn’t stop SEOs from continuing to discuss, debate, and argue over which was the right choice.
When Google officially announced this in 2016, it led to quite an interesting discussion around this (and many others).
Google’s stance is that the / is more beneficial in keywords and queries. Specifically, when relevant keywords are included in the URL, it helps Google better understand what the content is about and improves the organic search results.
However, there are exceptions. For instance, if your site is in the form of a 10-year-old domain name, the slash-less version is more common.
And, of course, when your site is an exact match domain (EMD), or a brand, you can usually get away with it.
If you have a choice, my recommendation would be to go with what is more natural for your brand.
And one final data point, when reviewing multiple URL versions, in most cases, Google will prefer a URL with the slash.
Relative URLs vs Absolute URLs URL Structure
For years, SEOs had two choices for building URLs.
Absolute URLs: URLs that are structured in a way that contains both a file’s absolute path and a file’s name. The example below is for an image file named ‘image.png’ stored in an ‘images’ subdirectory of the root domain ‘example.com’: http://example.com/images/image.png
Relative URLs: URLs that do not contain the complete file or directory path within their URL. Google has proven time and time again that external links that appear to have a URL structure similar to http://example.com/images/image.png will appear to users as http://example.com/image.png.
When Googlebot crawls your site, however, it ignores any file or directory paths that appear within the URL. Google knows where the files came from due to your web server’s configuration, and it doesn’t need to crawl and index them through your website.
So, instead of having your filenames ‘of’ your site in URLs, Google preferred the ‘relative’ URLs.
The absolute URL structure hasn’t been officially deprecated by Google, and many experts still believe it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.
You should, therefore, start factoring the relative URL structure into your internal document URLs. Backlinks and user targeting are among the reasons to do so.
URL Structure Mistakes That You Need to Avoid
If you don’t have a website that is optimized for Google, you might be wondering how to tackle various aspects of SEO.
One key area of focus is URLs.
Most marketers know that the URLs on their websites can impact rankings and visibility in search results. To understand why this is important, you need to understand the anatomy of a basic URL structure.
Before we move on, it’s important that you understand how crawlers work. Crawling is the process of discovering pages on a website so that search engines like Google and Bing can process them.
When Google’s crawlers find your website, they basically pick off a page at a time. As they do this, they keep track of the URL (or web address) of the page.
Google’s crawlers do this by parsing the given URL in a certain way to identify what type of content it is. Once crawlers identify the type of content, they make a ranking decision based on the URL.
This might seem straightforward, but it’s actually much more complicated than that.
In the URL structure above, the main site URL is www.example.com. It includes two folder structures (pages) within it.
The first folder structure contains six subfolders and the second contains five subfolders.
Those subdirectories contain dozens of pages.
Google is the main search engine used in the U.S. The crawlers that Google uses to process URLs work in a number of different ways.
Since Google’s main crawlers analyze URLs, it’s important to identify some of the common URL structure mistakes that Google might overlook.
Here are some other tips to avoid URL structure mistakes:
Use no more than 20 characters: The URL of your site should be short and clear. The number of characters used should ideally be no more than 20.
Avoid typos: Don’t use typos in your website’s web address. These can make your website seem unprofessional, and they may not go unnoticed by search engines, which may see typos as a misuse of keywords.
Use descriptive keywords: The URL of your site should include descriptive keywords, such as the name of the website or the name of your website’s product.
We hope this post has helped you understand the basics of SEO URL structure and how to create the best SEO-friendly URLs. If you have any questions about how to create SEO URLs or want to learn more about SEO, let us know in the comments!
What are the 3 most important parts of URL?
A domain name is the second part of a URL and identifies a specific website. For example, Google’s domain name is google.com. A path is the third part of a URL and specifies which page on a website you want to visit. For instance, if you wanted to visit Google’s home page, the path would be /index.html.
What makes a URL unique?
A URL is a unique address. It is the permanent identity of the Web site. An URL can contain an alphabetic, numeric, or symbolic string, or a combination of letters, numbers, or symbols. The string must start with an alphabetic or numeric character. The two keywords HTTP and HTTPS after the string identify the type of connection required to access the Web site. The string always ends with a period (.).
Is URL and link the same?
No, the URL and link are not the same. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, and it is used to help search engines understand and locate a specific web page on the internet. A link is a clickable text that, when clicked, takes you directly to the page you desire to visit. A web address may be in the format of a www.example.com/ something (for example, www.example.com/aboutus). If you click on the hyperlink, you are taken directly to that specific page. For example, to go to Google’s home page, type www.google.com in a browser.