SEO

URLs for better SEO

Alex Zagoumenov

Alex Zagoumenov

URL construction is one of the most frequent things being overlooked in the website design process. Way too often I see URLs that are long, not descriptive and confusing to both people and search engines. Here’s an example of one that can be improved: domain.com/articles.html?category=2&orderby=1. This article is about way to build proper URLs and, as a result, improve your relationship with search engines like Google.

As an outcome of this article I want you to look up your URLs and talk to your developer (or let me know if you want me to look into it) so that the situation can be improved. Here’s a few things that you should look for in a well developed URL structure that is geared to improve your website’s SEO.

 

Keep URLs short

Having short and concise URLs is good for users and search engines. SEOmoz tool recommends against having URLs longer than 100 characters. The reason for that, my take, is that longer URLs may slow down indexing and impede Google’s understanding of your page. Here’s an example of a short URL:

URL SEO best practices, short snippet

You can also consider keeping articles and short transitions out of your URLs. For example, “a”, “the”, “an”, “to” don’t really add meaning but can consume valuable URL space. Adam Whippy has developed an SEO-friendly URL tool that removes these parts of speech from your URLs automatically. Other platforms such as Joomla, I’m sure, can be geared towards this functionality too.

Keep URLs descriptive

Along with being short, make sure both a search engine and a human can understand what the page is about. Some examples of descriptive URLs include:

URL SEO best practices, descriptive snippet

Keep ULRs logical

Confusing URLs such as domain.com/products/876/category/1/jeans/8765/… can be confusing to search engines. Ensure that your URLs are 2-3 levels deep at the most. For example, domain.com/products-category/product-details/ is a good example of a logical URL construct because it goes from generic to specific and it doesn’t go more than 2 directories deep. Here’s a good example where the author has broad category as /articles/ and the post URL as a more specific content:

One of the reasons for “2-3 directories deep” suggestion is that deeper directories take longer to index by search engines. In many cases these days I’m seeing my colleagues are rewriting their URLs to have the page as the first level page. For example, looking at the image above, a new (rewritten) URL may look like www.stonetemple.com/top-10-bad-SEO-ideas.shtml. This may allow for quicker indexing of new articles, but may take away from the website logic.

Keep some keywords in your URLs

 

The reason I put “some” in the section title is that you don’t want to stuff your URLs with keywords. It’s not logical, nor search engine friendly. However, a single mention of a key phrase is all you need to make your URLs optimized for better rankings. For example, my working URL for this article, as I’m writing it, is http://www.zagoumenov.com/seo/urls-for-better-seo/.

That should be it in an nutshell. Let me know if things need to be clarified or if you want me to look into fixing your URL structure for better SEO results for your website. Also, feel free to share your experience and notes as it relates to SEO-friendly URLs in the comments below.