SEO-friendly URLs are URLs that work well for visitors and search engines. URLs generally describe the location of a document or page for visitors and search engines. Well-chosen URLs are vital for good SEO performance. When it comes to URLs, follow these best practices:
- Keep your URLs descriptive and readable;
- Keep your URLs short;
- Keep your URL structure consistent.
Apply the KISS principle: “Be simple, stupid.”
What is the URL?
URL means Universal Resource Locator. URLs describe the location of a document or page for visitors and search engines.
Best practices for SEO friendly URLs structure
Google writes: “The URL structure of a website should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are logically constructed in the most intelligible way for humans.”
That makes sense, but how do you do it?
We split the SEO-compatible URLs into these properties:
- descriptive and readable
Good and bad URL examples
Here is an example of a good URL:
And here is an example of an incorrect URL:
Descriptive and readable URLs
A potential visitor should have an idea of the content of a page simply by looking at the URL. They are much more likely to click on a Google search result with a descriptive and readable URL.
Include one or two important keywords in the URL. This helps search engines and visitors understand what they can expect in the URL.
Avoid irrelevant words in URLs
Avoid irrelevant words (“grammatical” words that don’t say much) in the URLs. They do not add value to URLs; they only make a URL less readable and longer.
Here is an example of a good URL:
And here is an example of an incorrect URL:
Avoid parameters in URL
Avoid the parameters in the URLs as much as possible. They do not express context for visitors or search engines and can even cause duplicate content.
Here is an example of an incorrect URL structure:
We understand that in some cases you cannot avoid using parameters in the URLs. In such cases, simply minimize them.
Separate words using hyphens
Separate the words in the URLs with dashes (-). Although search engines support underscores (_) as word separators today, the eyes of their readers prefer hyphens.
Don’t Stuff URLs full of keywords
Completing URLs full of keywords makes readability difficult and is a sure sign of over-optimization. Therefore, avoid doing this. It does not add value and can even damage your SEO performance.
Keep URLs short
Visitors and search engines prefer short URLs; So keep them short. Use as few directories as possible, and if you can only use one, do so.
But short URLs are a technique, not the goal. Your goal is readable and logical URLs.
Keep URLs consistent
You must choose a preferred way to create URLs on your site and follow it. This preferred way to structure your URLs is called the URL structure. But what preferences can you choose? To answer this question, let’s look at the anatomy of a URL.
The anatomy of a URL
Let’s analyze https://www.example.com/about/team?member=john#experience:
- Protocol: https: //
- Subdomain: www
- Domain: example.com
- Directory: about
- Page: team
- Parameters: Member = john
- Fragment: #experience
Protocol: HTTP or HTTP
Choose whether or not you want to serve your URLs through a secure connection using the HTTP protocol.
We recommend serving your URLs over HTTP. If you are still switching from HTTP to HTTP, redirect requests 301 for the HTTP URL variant to the URL HTTP variant, and vice versa.
Subdomain or no subdomain
Choose whether or not you want to use the www subdomain.
Best practice: If you choose to use www, be sure to redirect requests for URL 301 without the www subdomain to the www variant of www. And vice versa.
Domain name: The domain name consists of a name and an extension: a top-level domain (TLD).
Best practice: If you are able to choose a new domain, choose one that is short and easy to remember.
While it is important to keep URLs as short as possible, it is also a good idea to group related URLs into your site using directories. Directories can be useful for sites up to 50 pages.
Having trouble organizing your URLs using only one level of directories due to the size of your site? You can use subdirectories if this helps restore order, but keep the number of directories per URL as low as possible.
Best practice: Choose short directory names to keep your URLs as short as possible.
Here is an example of good use of the directory:
And here is an example of misuse:
The parameters in URLs are often used to pass data. As mentioned earlier, avoid using parameters in URLs as much as possible. These parameters do not provide context for visitors or Google.
URL fragments to go to a section
Fragments are used in URLs to jump to a specific section within a page.
An example URL with a snippet: https://www.example.com/about/team/#king-john
# is the fragment and king-john is the fragment identifier in this example.
URLs are case sensitive, which means that https://example.com/url-a/ and https://example.com/url-A/ are considered different URLs. Stick to URLs with lowercase characters only.
When creating links, it is easy to write typographical errors that cause both versions of the URL to be indexed. This is duplicate content and should be avoided.
When a URL with uppercase characters is requested, 301 must be redirected to the version of the URL that is in all lowercase characters, the canonical version. If this is not possible, be sure to implement a canonical URL in the canonical version.
To slash, or not to slash?
Choose whether or not to use it at the end of each URL. If you choose to use it, make sure that URLs without the / at the end are redirected 301 to the URL variant with the / at the end. And vice versa.
Should I use an extension or not?
You can choose to give the URLs an extension, such as .php, .html or .aspx. However, we recommend avoiding URL extensions, otherwise:
- It makes URLs longer.
- This creates more typographical errors when people set a URL directly in the address bar.
- This makes migration to a different platform more complex and risky because you don’t have to migrate the URLs since they don’t necessarily change.
Define information architecture.
The information architecture of a site defines, among other things, how its content is accessible to visitors. Define the relationships between pages and what URLs and directories to use. Having an information architecture is excellent because it gives everyone clarity about what URL to use and requires you to think ahead of their URLs. This is important because the URLs you choose must be prepared for the future.
Imagine putting blood, sweat, and tears and finally see your organic traffic increase … At this moment of triumph, you do not want to change directories or pages in URLs, as this requires implementing redirects to direct visitors and search engines to new ones URL So think about the future when choosing URLs.
Example: if you participate in a competition year after year and write about it every year, it makes no sense to put the year in the URL. Choose a generic URL that can be reused every year. Most likely, you will get links from other sites to this page. You want to take advantage of the authority transmitted by these links. So keep things stable!
Use URL to create links
URLs are used when creating links. For example, you can link to a page using a relative URL or an absolute URL.
Relative URL? Absolute URL? What is that?
Relative URLs are URLs that do not refer to the protocol, subdomain, and domain. For example: / about / team /
Absolute URLs are URLs that refer to the full URL, including the protocol, subdomain, and domain. For example https://www.example.com/about/team/
When linking to pages on your own site, we recommend using relative URLs for two reasons:
- When you change domain names, you don’t have to change all your links. They will continue working.
- If you are using a test environment with the same content as your production environment, relative URLs will ensure that the test environment works perfectly.
However, keep in mind that it is not recommended to use relative URLs in canonical URLs.
URLs play an important role in your SEO performance. Choose descriptive, readable and short URLs. Be consistent with the URLs of your website and you will get benefits.