URLs and Their Impact on SEO

urls in SEO

Your URL is the first thing the search engines andyour visitors see — and in this case, first impressions count.

URLs are the building blocks of a website’s hierarchy; they direct users to their desired destination and pass equity through your domain. Even though URLs aren’t the holy grail of SEO efforts, they’re worth getting right.

In this blog post we’ll discuss how you can create SEO-friendly URLs to gain an edge over competitors in search rankings.

But first, let’s go over the basics:

What is a URL?

Short for uniform resource locator, URL is a piece of readable text that specifies the address of a resource (typically a web page) on the internet. It also specifies how that resource will be retrieved, AKA the “protocol,” like HTTP, HTTPS, etc.

Anatomy of a URL

Protocol: As mentioned earlier, protocol indicates the method in which the browsers communicate with the servers to retrieve a resource. The protocol also sets the rules regarding error handling, syntax, and security.

Domain name: Also referred to as host name, domain name is a human-readable name specifying the location where a resource is located.

Top-level domain: There are thousands of TLDs you can choose from like .com, .gov, .edu. Think of TLDs as the categorization of websites.

The rest is the path of the URL, which can include a specific sub-folder structure of where the resource is located.

Why are URLs Important for SEO?

Let’s look at some ways in which URLs have an impact on SEO:

Easier to Crawl

Google’s Content Guidelines instructs webmasters to create descriptive filenames and categories to keep their website better organized. In other words, create a simple and organized URL structure. Doing so will lead to better crawling by search engines.

The more optimized your web pages are for search engines, the easier it will be for them to find and rank your pages in search results organically.

Keyword Relevance

Incorporating keywords in your URL can also act as a ranking factor, improving your site’s overall search visibility.

While it’s worth thinking about, don’t create unnecessary URLs to simply include a keyword in them.

Links and Social Sharing

Well-written URLs serve as anchor texts when copied and pasted as links on social media networks, forums, and blogs. Human-readable, clean URLs with hyphens will give a clear depiction of the content and drive more clicks.

SEO-Friendly URLs Best Practices

Here’s what you can do to create SEO-friendly URLs:

Keep it Short Yet Definitive

A good rule of thumb is to keep your URL as short as possible, in a way that it does not lose its general meaning. Remember, Google will truncate your URL in search rankings after 512 pixels.

It’s recommended that the URL must be shorter than 2,083 characters to correctly render in all browsers.

Some people use URL shortening services like Bit.ly or TinyURL to shrink down lengthy characters, but in reality, most people are hesitant to click these links because they look spammy.

HTTPS is Ideal

Google confirmed HTTPS as a ranking signal in 2014, which means that not switching to HTTPS can affect your website credibility and search engine rankings.

Plus, Google reported that it will add a “Not Secure” warning in the address bar for sites that still run on HTTP.

Since Google’s aim is to provide a secure user experience, make sure you have switched your site to HTTPS.

Make it Readable

Simply put, the easier your URL is for humans to read and understand, the better it is for search engines. After all, accessibility is a significant part of SEO.

The idea isn’t that every part of the URL must be perfect and clean, but it should at least be understandable enough for those seeking your content.

Avoid Unnecessary Words

In order for your URL to be understandable, you don’t need to use every single conjunction and preposition.

So, words like “the” and “and” can be stripped out.

Lowercase Letters

Use lowercase letters because in some cases uppercase letters can cause issues with duplication of pages.

Use Hyphens

To improve readability, use hyphens to separate the words. URLs shouldn’t contain spaces, underscores or any special characters to separate words.

Make Use of Keywords

A huge part of click-through is based on the relevance of keywords present in the URL.

Benefits of keywords in URLs are two-fold: When users hover over a URL, keywords in URL help indicate whether or not they’re getting what they want and expect.

  1. URLs that are copied and pasted are served as anchor texts—and URLs that display keywords instantly become click-worthy.
  2. URLs that are copied and pasted are served as anchor texts—and URLs that display keywords instantly become click-worthy.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Google associates keyword-dense domain names with low-quality sites, so make sure to use keywords naturally.

Stuffing keywords makes domain names unreadable and affects the click-through rate.

Canonicalize Multiple URLs

When you have two URLs that serve similar content, add a conical tag to tell Google which one is your preferred version, and thus, should be indexed.

By using canonical URLs, you can have multiple versions of the same content on your site, without it harming your rankings.

Conclusion

Your potential visitors care more about URL structure that Google does. SEO-friendly URLs bring you one step closer to an improved user experience, which is why they should be a part of your SEO strategy.

Optimize URLs with a Powerful SEO Site Audit Tool Today

RankGenie is an all-encompassing website audit tool that allows you to evaluate all your on-page SEO elements, such as URL structure, backlink profile, meta descriptions, sitemaps, and so on.

The RankGenie bots crawl your web page and analyze your existing URL based on its uniqueness, length, keywords, and a number of other factors that may be impacting your page ranking.

It also gives you recommendations on how you can optimize future URLs or change the ones that receive little to no traffic. Sign up for a free trial of our online SEO rank checker tool today! We recommend our $25 monthly subscription to get started.

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