Optimizing URL for SEO: A Guide to the Basics
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A URL–it’s intrinsically tied to the Internet and thus unavoidable – but what is it really? URL, or uniform resource locator, holds the unique webpage location and is presented in a human-readable fashion. URLs replace IP addresses and describe the basics of a webpage to visitors and search engines. Although URL structure may appear like an inconsequential part of your website, it can greatly benefit your SEO (search engine optimization) and thus increase your traffic and page rank. A URL acts as a fundamental building block of SEO because it helps users navigate to and around your site more easily and draws traffic organically. Even though URLs will not make or break your SEO efforts, it is a great long-term strategy that can put you ahead of competitors if done correctly.
We have outlined some basic tips for optimizing your URLs in line with SEO strategies. These are not hard and fast rules, but guidelines to follow based on the URLs of the top ranked pages of SERPs (search engine results pages).
Keep it Simple!
- Readability over everything when it comes to URLs. The clarity of your URL is crucial to whether or not users will click on your website. If the URL is easy to read, the engagement rate from search-engine users will greatly increase because users like knowing exactly what they are going to get when they click on a page. Readability improves your website’s targeted traffic, as the URL conveys information to the user
- Avoid URLs that are too dynamic. They will confuse users and be misinterpreted as spam. Do this by removing extraneous characters. A fifth of a percent (0.194%) of high-ranking URLs contain extraneous characters.
- It is important to include keywords in your URL, but only if it makes sense. Again, readability over everything else. The keyword inclusion should look natural,
- Do not keyword-stuff or repeat! Repetition of keywords in URLs not only looks like spam to users, but it negatively affects your ranking in SERPs.
Vanity Pays Off
- When it comes to URLs, shorter is usually better than longer. Although length does not affect SERPs, a shorter URL makes the user experience easier. Users prefer short URLs because they are easier to remember and copy and paste.
- If you are thinking in terms of social media, shorter definitely pays off when it comes to Twitter. The character limitations of a tweet affect how your website/page may be shared on various social media platforms.
- The stats on URL length tell the full story: the URLs of articles on Google’s #1 ranked page have an average of 37 characters and shortened URLs experience an average of 25% more clicks than longer links.
- Confused about whether or not to add stop words? Don’t worry too much; they are only to be included if it will directly impact the readability because they do not add real value in and of themselves. There is no disadvantage, but removing them achieves the larger goal of simplicity within the URL structure.
- Remove all capital letters from your URL. URLs are case sensitive, meaning an identically worded URL will be distinctly different depending on whether or not the words are capitalized.
- Capitals confuse users and search engines alike on which site is “correct” or better. It is safer to stay entirely lowercase.
Hyphens over Underscores
- Avoid underscores when separating distinct words in your URL. Google and other search engines read underscores as a single word as opposed to hyphens, which are read as spaces.
Implementing these tips and techniques when creating your URLs is vital in optimizing your SEO strategy. Get ahead of your competitors with these low effort, high reward strategies!