URL Optimization Tips for SEO
We, at SearchEnabler, strive hard to make you understand all the factors of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) through our blog. This article will help you realize and understand the importance of URL structure of the webpage in the SEO process.
What is a URL?
Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is part of Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) that is a reference to the location of a webpage or a resource on the web. Alternatively, we call it as ‘webpage address’ or ‘website address’. URI also specifies the way to retrieve that web resource . Most of the times, the terms ‘URI’ and ‘URL’ are used alternatively.
Example of URL:
SEO Opportunities In The URL
Yes, even URL structure holds a key value in the ranking authority of a website. Many URL properties are put into measure by search engines before they deliver the search results to the end users.
URL Factors taken in consideration are:
- Structure and format of the URL
- Dynamic or Static nature of URL
- Use of Keywords and brand name in the URL
- Length of the URL
- Optimal Format of URL (SEO Friendly URLs)
The optimal format of an SEO friendly URL should:
- Begin with a domain name, and its categories must be named in such a way that they become keywords.
- Have targeted keywords embedded into the webpage.
URL Optimization Best Practices
- Mention related keywords in URL – The URL should contain related keywords. For URL SEO, the URL should have keywords that are important in that webpage. Keyword in the domain name has a fair priority but keyword stuffing in it is not a good practice.
Structure of keyword stuffed domain name:
- Use hyphens to separate the words in URL – Google advices to use hyphens to separate the keywords in the URL, instead of using other symbols such as underscores. Suppose you use ‘dslr_camera‘ in the URL, Google will not recognize them as separate words. It will appear to the bots as a single keyword, so you can rank only for that single keyword. Alternatively, if you use ‘dslr-camera‘, search engines will instantly recognize them as two separate words and you can rank three separate for keywords ‘dslr‘, ‘camera‘ as well as ‘dslr camera‘.
According to Google:
“We recommend that you use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs.“
- Avoid using long URLs – Using descriptive URLs is advisable but be mindful of the URL length. Lengthy URLs work against SEO practices. You should use 4-7 words in the webpage name so that it is descriptive, precise, as well as short. Google thinks that over lengthy URLs are usually keyword stuffed.
- Maintain a shallow URL structure – Try to maintain the webpages structures as flat as possible, which will give short URLs as well as reduces navigation problems. Long URL structure that uses many categories can cause navigation problems for users and bots. This problem results in a possibility where some of your webpages might not be crawled by the bots.
- Static URL is better than Dynamic URL – As per Google, dynamic URLs creates the problems of junk URLs, which may not be reachable by users. Many product-based and e-commerce websites use Session IDs, Timestamps, and sorting mechanisms to navigate their visitors by using dynamic URL mechanisms.
Using static URL structure is the best way to ensure good SEO opportunities, but it is sometimes unavoidable to use dynamic URLs. You can still use all those sorting and tracking features even maintaining the static type of URL by using cookies.‘Parameter Handling’ option in Google’s Webmaster Tools
If you cannot abolish the use of dynamic elements in URLs, Google has a good solution for this problem. You can manually ask Google to avoid those dynamic elements while crawling the webpages. Google’s Webmaster Tools can filter out those dynamic URLs using the ‘adjust parameter‘ option in the settings. You can add the terms, which you use for dynamic URL such as ‘SessID’ or ‘SortBy’ in it and set it to ‘Ignore‘, then Google will start ignoring those parameters while crawling.
Bing’s Webmaster Tools also provides ‘URL Normalization’ option, similar to Google. This option exists under the ‘Crawl Settings‘ tab.
- Block dynamic URLs through Robots.txt – Some of the dynamic webpages such as search results page can create huge number of dynamic webpages .You can block some dynamic pages using Robots.txt. For more information, refer to ‘Robots.txt Tutorial‘.
- URLs are case sensitive – Unlike domain names, URLs are case sensitive so you have to be very careful while internal or external link building. Always type the whole URL starting with ‘http’ and be mindful of the case sensitive nature of URLs.
Example of lengthy keyword stuffed URL:
Using these tips, you can optimize the URLs in your website which will hopefully enhance the whole SEO value. In addition, you can follow our blog for in-depth knowledge on other specific topics in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).