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How does the URL structure affect SEO?

9 minutes of reading
How does the URL structure affect SEO?
Category SEO

What if you give your home address to someone, and they can’t make sense of it? They wouldn’t be able to reach your place even until eternity! Similarly, how can you expect search engines and users to access your website with that sloppy and chaotic URL, which is the address to find your website and web pages?

While accomplishing SEO optimization of a page or site, website owners tend to focus ridiculously on the content, backlinking, image optimization, mobile-friendliness, etc. However, URL structure never gains that prominence in the SEO checklist, which is not good at all to overlook. This may factor in dropping your ranks in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). While SEO-friendly URLs facilitate in improving site rankings, thereby driving more quality traffic to the page.


How does URL impact the SEO of the site?

Although there is still no unanimous say on whether the rankings are affected by URL structure. However, one needs to grasp that improper URL structure is detrimental to the SERP ranks of a page, as it makes it difficult for users and search engines to understand what your site is all about.

Users ask, “Does URL name affect SEO?” Well, it does! But how? Read on to know!

A URL that features a proper structure with pertinent keywords enjoys more favor amongst the users as well as search engines. A decently structured URL allows more ease to the readers, who can then decide if the page is relevant to answer their query or not. This way, a site promises a great user experience and gets more clickthrough rates which further play a role in ranking the site in search results. However, this isn’t applicable for mobile users who cannot notice the URL in SERPs.

A chic-looking URL that contains keywords in balanced proportion offers more context and information to search engines to figure out what your site is all about than a messy one. Furthermore, if anyone wants to link your content to theirs, a proper and friendly URL will cheer them up, increasing backlinks for your site and, thus, its authority. This directly impacts the SEO of your site since the more outbound links your site enjoys, the higher your site’s traffic goes.

You have got the answer to does URL impacts SEO. Now, recognizing the importance of creating clean URLs is not enough, and you need to put the knowledge into action. And for that, you need some actionable and effective practices to make the most of it. Here, we have laid down URL best practices you need to follow.

What are URL structure best practices?

Are long URLs bad for SEO?”, “What should I do to create the aptest URL structure?”. Now we hear you ask as you have learned the significance of the said in enhancing site rankings, boosting the SEO, and so forth. Here are the best practices you can follow to forge effective URLs that garner quality traffic to your web pages:

  • Keep short, clean & precise URLs: The length of a good URL typically goes about 35 to 45 characters; however, if it is 80 characters or more, then you need to attend to the matter and rewrite it. Avoid using excess abbreviations and special characters as it may fudge the meaning of the URL. Furthermore, having lengthy URLs tremendously impacts the social sharing of a page, which can bring the traffic down. Make the URLs clean and short to facilitate search engines and the users.
  • The URL should be legible: Everyone online knows Google’s fondness for its users. The platform awards sites that produce the most relevant results and are user-friendly to its users. And a scrambled URL is no treatment for search engine visitors. Therefore, as part of URL best practice, you should make URLs readable so that search engines and users can comprehend without stuttering. Apart from being legible, make it attractive as well so visitors can’t resist clicking it.
  • Put keywords in the URL: A keyword-focused and readable URL collects more clicks and traffic by perking up the CTR and raising the rankings. When creating a URL, make sure you put in the most profitable keywords in a balanced way. Remember not to overdo keyword addition into the address, or it will become spammy and is not encouraged by Google and other search engines.
  • Only hyphens & no underscores: Google never counts underscores as a placeholder for space in the URL; rather, it favors hyphens for the role. To separate the words in URL, add hyphens between them, which renders it easier for search engine spiders to crawl your site and thus, produce better search results for the users. The less gibberish your URL is, the higher are the chances of rank improvement in the SERPs.
  • Remove stop words: These are redundant words in a sentence that adds nothing to its sense, such as the, for, if, or, a, an, etc. Avoid using these fluff words when creating URLs, which do nothing but increase the URL length.
  • Use lowercase letters only: Using uppercase letters in certain instances can cause problems with duplicate pages. Such as, dearlife.com/Blog and dearlife.com/ blog will be considered two separate URLs, and it can take up issues of duplicate content. Therefore, always prefer using lowercase letters in the URL structure.
  • Forget URL parameters: If possible, do not employ URL parameters, as they can trigger glitches with duplicate content and tracking. In case you need to use them, do it sparingly.
  • Use canonical URLs: Google relies on canonical URLs when it comes to asking the site which of the duplicate pages it should access when indexing and showing results to the user. A page can be specified as canonical by fixing the rel parameter to ‘canonical’ in the HTTP header or in the <link> tag, utilizing a 301 redirect, or specifying the matter in a sitemap.
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What does a good URL look like?

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, which implies that it informs you about a certain content’s address available on the web. A URL typically has four parts: protocol, domain name, subdirectories, and particular page name.

Now you know the best strategies to create URL structure and why it is important for SEO. It’s the moment to see what a good URL actually looks like. An appropriate URL is clean, short, and sweet and is about 35-45 characters in length. And it should be scribed in lowercase letters only to avoid duplication problems, must have hyphens instead of underscores, and must be keyword rich (not spammy).

With all these attributes in mind, a good URL would appear as follows, while we have added a bad URL example to clarify things further.

SEO-friendly URL example: letterbox.com/english-post-for-children

Bad URL structure example: http://www.sample.com/space%20here.html

With these examples, your concept of good and bad URLs should get clear. You can work on producing fruitful URLs for your content instead of relying on jumbled, automatically generated ones.

Common mistakes to avoid when creating URLs

Mistakes are an inevitable part of doing something. However, you must try your best to avoid making blunders that can lead you into a fiasco — for instance, forging grim URLs that ultimately land one in a trap of infinite 301 redirects.

Now that you know how important is URL for SEO, do long URLs affect SEO, do vanity URLs impact SEO, and other related common queries, it is time to get to some work? But, to succeed in the game, while knowing the best practices of making URLs, you should be conscious of the mistakes that people typically make. It will ensure that you do not commit any foul-up that could prove detrimental to your website.

So, here goes a helpful list of common URL mistakes and how to avoid them:

  • Using stop words: Stop words are the words that do not communicate any sense within a sentence, such as ‘a, of, for, the,’ etc. These words add to the length of the URL; thus, it is recommended to avoid them in the URL structure.
  • Dynamic URLs & Parameters: Often, certain CMS (content management systems) such as Joomla or WordPress tend to cull the page title of the content and use it as a URL. So, if you plan to change the title of your page in the future, the URL will automatically change without 301 redirects. Therefore, always prefer to create static URLs.
  • Underscores: Earlier underscores were typically a part of URLs, as they are used as a proxy for spaces in file names. However, the case isn’t so anymore, and hyphens are the suggested options.
  • Special characters: Using special characters except for hyphens or alphanumeric symbols makes a bad URL. Thus, avoid using them.
  • No 301 redirects: In case you alter the URL structure, without proper implementation of 301 redirects, your site is going to suffer. Therefore, attend to this while changing the URL structure; else, it can catalyze a drop in the site’s rankings.
  • Keyword errors: When you have a tonne of profitable keywords for your content, it is enticing to change the URL with many of them. However, it does no good except making it spammy, which, when noticed by Google, will chide your rankings, thus bringing them down. On the flip side, if the keywords are totally absent from the address, the readability of the URL is directly influenced, which can put off the visitors. Therefore, it is crucial to strike the right balance when putting keywords in the URL.

Although there is a substantial body of conflict around the importance of clean and consistent URLs for SEO, keeping neat URLs is a hallmark of credible businesses. It does impact the success and ranking of a site in some way or the other. So, do endeavor to spare some minutes to create custom SEO-friendly URLs to gain the favor of search engines and users. The technique definitely pays off in the long run!

iCEA Group

As a leading international digital marketing agency established in 2007, we have consistently set the standards for traffic acquisition and conversion. We proudly host Poland's largest technical department, staffed with highly skilled SEO, SEM, and UX specialists with years of experience. Our offer knows no borders! As evidenced by our successful campaigns in not only the Polish market but also in India and the United States. Driven by our dedication and expertise, we empower our clients to achieve online success.

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