URL Structure: Subtle Yet Essential

URL Structure: Subtle Yet Essential


At first glance, URLs might seem like a trivial aspect of content and websites. But they actually contain important information about your website and its content that can affect your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) as well as its user experience (UX).

In this blog post, we’ll go over the structure of a URL and how it impacts SEO. In future articles, I’ll dig into some more advanced aspects of using URLs for technical SEO.

Beyond Search Engine Optimization: Using Site Structure to Improve User Experience  by John Doherty

URL Basics for Technical SEO  by John Doherty

I'll use this article as an example throughout the post, so let's take a look at Article Background's URL: https://www.caringinfo.org/stories/interesting-url-structure

https://www.caringinfo.org is the root domain, which is the highest level of a website’s URL that can be reached by clicking links on the homepage or by typing http://www in the browser address bar and pressing [enter]. 

In this case, from a search engine optimization point of view, I would recommend adding more links to your content so people will have more opportunities to find it via Google searches and share it with their friends on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. To do this, add links back to your content from other pages on your site so you get more internal links . An internal link is a hyperlink that points to another page on the same site, while an external link is one that points to content on another website.

From a user experience standpoint, you’ll want to make it easy for readers to share your content with others by including social media sharing buttons below your post so people can easily tweet, like, and pin your article. This way they can help promote your content without doing any extra work.

So before writing your next article or blog post, ask yourself what keywords are important for SEO purposes and how can I improve conversions? Keywords are just one part of the equation; knowing what goals you want to accomplish on each piece of content will help you decide how best to structure URLs for technical SEO and user experience.

In the next article, I'll go over some of those more technical aspects of URLs and how they can help you optimize a webpage for a specific purpose.

Let me know in the comments what other topics you'd like to see covered here on Technical SEO. We may even cover them in future posts! And make sure to sign up for my newsletter to get the latest updates from the Moz Blog delivered straight to your inbox.

If you want to learn more about technical SEO, check out my ebook on Technical SEO for Startups  or drop me an email at john@doherty.io. I'm here to help!

About the author: John Doherty is an internationally recognized thought leader in online marketing and has spent more than 14 years helping companies improve their web strategies. He's the author of three books— The Art of SEO, The Art of Social Media Marketing, and Technical SEO for Startups —and holds a degree from Harvard University. His blog is considered one of the industry's most authoritative sources on search marketing, social media, and startups.

URL Structure: I know you're probably thinking, "Don't we already have a blog post about this?" We do ! But I'd like to dive into some of the aspects that we didn't get into as much as we should've (yes, there were things we skimmed over). What happens when your website structure gets too complicated? Can you imagine what would happen if an online store had multiple pages with TONS of products listed? It'd be impossible for customers to find what they need! The same thing goes for URL structure -- having too many parameters or sub-directories can confuse search engine crawlers to the point where they'll ignore your content.

URL parameters, which are often called query strings, are usually separated by '?'s and indicate data that needs to be passed along when a webpage is loaded in the browser. Technical SEOs tend to use URLs with multiple parameters because it's much easier than constantly adding/removing them as you move things around on your site (for example, changing product names). But there are some problems with using all those complicated strings. For one, quality scores suffer . Google uses complex algorithms to determine how well (or not) pages will rank for specific searches. Notice that the wrong link is appearing as a top result for "technical seo" in the image above? That could happen if Google doesn't understand your site structure and sees all those parameters as one big mess. And every time you update a product name or move a page around, you have to remember to change all of those parameters accordingly -- otherwise your customers will be sent to a 404 error screen. As Matt Cutts from Google put it , 'You're not going to rank well with these kinds of tricks.'