SEO-friendly URLs are ones that have been optimised for both users and search engines. They can lead to higher rankings, more clicks and simpler website navigation.
In this guide, we take a close look at how you create them.
The SEO-URL Formula
Here’s a quick overview of how to optimise your URLs for SEO purposes:
- Include your keyword
- Keep it short and simple
- Use hyphens
- Describe the page
- Consider navigation
- Keep it lowercase
- Avoid dynamic URLs
- Use HTTPS
- Don’t copy the page title
- Leave out dates
Why are They Important?
Before we delve into more detail, what makes optimising URLs essential? Why do we care?
Answer: they’re important for rankings. Similar to your meta title, for example, URLs give search engines an idea of what a particular page is about. These need to be unique for each piece of content in order for it to be crawled and indexed.
Also, from a user perspective, URLs are key. They allow them to find a page, determining its subfolder/ position on the website, as well as inform them what the content is about.
With all this considered, it’s evident URLs need to be accurate, clear and clickable. There are many factors that make this happen, so let’s take a look at some ‘rules’ that should be followed.
Use a Keyword
First things first – make sure your target keyword is included, determined through keyword research. This gives a clear signal to search engines about what you want to rank for. This not only benefits Google, but also visitors trying to find their way around your site.
While having a keyword in your URL doesn’t mean you’ll rank for it, it can definitely help. But, remember, it’s not the be all and end all.
Tip: put the most important words first. When crawling a page, spiders will place more weight on these. Plus, they’re more likely to be visible in the search results, which can boost click-through-rate.
Don’t keyword stuff or repeat words in your URL – this will do more harm than good. Also, don’t include a keyword just for the sake of trying to rank for it, make sure they’re useful.
Keep It Short
Keeping things short, sharp and to the point is key. Overly complicated, wordy URLs have no place on your website.
Here are some of the benefits of simple URL structures:
- Easier to read
- Easier to type
- More value to each word given by spiders
- Long URLs confuse search engines (and users)
- Allows the topic of a page to be easily figured out
- Helps search engines crawl your site as a whole
- Better chance of ranking higher
Break words up using hyphens, as this allows search engines and users to understand what a particular page is about more easily.
Always go for hyphens rather than underscores to ensure words are seen as separate.
Describe Page Content
One SEO hack that’s often overlooked: URLs are important when it comes to CTR.
If users can’t get an understanding of what your page is about, it’s less likely they’ll click. URL structures have a role to play in making a page seem enticing.
The goal is to make sure someone can figure out the content of your page simply by the URL. So, make sure you keep it accurate and relevant.
Consider Navigational Elements
Don’t just look at the URL for what it is on its own, consider your website as a whole. How does it fit in?
Ideally, allow users to find a page in as a few clicks as possible, keeping site structure flat. You should also go for subfolders rather than subdomains, as these are better for SEO purposes (e.g. trust building, internal linking).
URLs should help organise your website and categorise content. Keep this in mind with every page.
While this isn’t the most important factor by any means, it’s recommended to keep all words lowercase. This reduces the risk of duplicate URLs. Some search engines will see uppercase and lowercase as different words, so it’s best to play it safe.
Go Static Not Dynamic
Avoid all symbols such as ‘? ! &’ etc. These can complicate things and make URLs harder to read.
It should go without saying, but always make sure you’re using HTTPS. This ensures your website is secure and is a must when it comes to rankings.
Don’t Just Use the Page Title
Don’t assume that just because something makes a great title, it makes a great URL.
Too often, marketers simply copy the title exactly and use it for the URL slug. These are long and overly wordy, containing words such as ‘the’ that you can simply do without.
Leave Out Dates
Always leave dates out of the URL.
- Keeps them short
- Allows you to update content more easily
- Ensures they stay relevant