URL Structure: Best Practices for SEO-Friendly URLs

URL Structure: Best Practices for SEO-Friendly URLs


In this article, I will detail some of the practices that you should follow so as to create SEO-friendly URLs.

URL structures can greatly enhance your site's SEO value. For one, they allow search engines to quickly understand what a particular page on your site is about – simply by looking at its URL. If a search engine understands what a page is all about – i.e., it has a keyword-rich yet user-friendly URL – then there is a high chance that it will be indexed and included in the search engine's database for tracking and indexing purposes. This means more exposure, which again equates to higher traffic from organic search results!

In addition, well structured URLs also tend to be easier for users to "digest". URLs are often shared in emails, directories and message boards.

If you have a URL that features words that provide value to the end user, then it is more likely to be clicked on. That's why keyword-rich URLs are better for users since they will most probably click on them if they seem interesting.

URLs are also important when it comes to conversion rates. If you have SEO-friendly URLs, your visitors will find it easier to remember specific pages on your site – and this means higher chance of return visits!

That said, here are some tips and best practices to follow so as to maximize the benefits associated with having well structured and user-friendly URLs: 1) Avoid hyphens Between words If you think about it, hyphens actually make the URL more difficult to read and remember. Take for instance this example:

Many people find URLs with several hyphens to be less meaningful than those without them. So instead of using hyphens between words, try replacing them with underscores (_): http://www.example.com/home_and_garden/kitchen_design

2) Make your URLs Fluid How can you do that? Well, you can use keywords alone or in combination with numbers if necessary – but avoid using punctuation characters like commas, brackets etc., which are not search engine friendly.

So rather than having URLs that look like this: http://www.example.com/dresses-for-women-bridesmaid-dresses.html

create URLs that are more "fluid", i.e., they are keyword-rich yet user friendly: http://www.example.com/popular_bridesmaid_dresses

3) Use hyphens to separate words in long tail queries The use of hyphens between words is also important when it comes to longer tail queries because they enable Google to better understand what a page is about the moment it sees the keywords in the URL. So while you should avoid using hyphens between words, you can still use them if there are two or three keywords within a phrase, e.g.:

In the example above, when a user enters "popular wedding dresses", Google understands that it is referring to a search query with two or three keywords.

4) Use hyphens in words with numbers Some marketers prefer to use hyphens between numbers and words because they make the URL more reader-friendly. So for instance, rather than having this:

you could create a URL that is more SEO-friendly and user friendly, e.g.: http://www.example.com/popular_shape_wedding_dresses

5) Create Brandable URLs You can also avoid using hyphens by creating brandable URLs for your site – where the complete domain name is used as part of the URL. Using names instead of numbers also makes it easier for users to remember specific pages on your site, e.g.:

6) Avoid using session IDs If you want to create brandable URLs (see number 5), then you can't use session IDs because they are always changing! These types of URLs don't refer to specific URLs, but to a group of URLs that are being used to track the number of visits.

So if you have URLs with session IDs, redirect them to your non-session ID URLs so as to obtain "SEO juice".

7) Avoid WordPress URL Redirects If you run a WordPress site, then make sure you don't install any URL redirect plugins. These plugins, which are used to track specific groups of URLs, will hinder the site's performance when it comes to SEO because Google views them as "doorway pages".

8) Create Search Engine Friendly URLs that use Lowercase Characters While you should avoid using hyphens between words in your URLs, you should always use lowercase characters in your URLs because they are considered search engine friendly. So instead of having this:

create a URL that Google can easily understand and one your visitors will find informative, e.g.: http://www.example.com/popular-wedding-dresses

9) Create URLs that Use the Keywords and Language of Your Content It's important to consider your site's content when you create URLs. For instance, if a post or page is written in Spanish, then the URL shouldn't be in English because it will keep visitors from sharing or bookmarking it. So if you create an article in Spanish about "popular wedding dresses", then the URL should be something like this, e.g.:

10) Create URLs that are 100% Unique While you should create content for search engines, you shouldn't sacrifice user experience in the process, particularly when it comes to URL structure. So if you've written about popular wedding dresses and other marketers have also created similar posts on their sites, don't just copy and paste their URLs to your site. Instead, create 100% unique content for your visitors and for search engines!