The Importance of Right URL Structure
Those of you who are into Onsite SEO Audit are well aware of the fact that poor URL structure can throw a spanner in on the entire optimization effort. But creating a perfect URL structure is not that hard. But surprisingly people and even sometimes marketers struggle to create a perfect URL structure for their websites. Try the following tips to create a perfect URL structure for a website –
1# File Extension
Search engines don’t give two hoots about the file extension of a URL. .html, .asp, aspx or .php, to search engines all extensions are the same. So, don’t worry about the file extension while judging the quality of the URLs. But the rule of thumb is not to use any extension at all and there is a reason behind it.
Say for example, if you website is around for a while chances are quite high that you will be making some changes in it. Probably your website would have a start from a humble blogging platform to WordPress and then to a more secured asp platform. Nowhere else the impact would be this palpable than the extension of the URL. As the URLs are technically changes their structures, you will need to do 301 redirection of all the URLs individually otherwise they will be treated as different set of URLs by search engines.
Keywords play a pivotal role in the URL structure of the website. For example, if the web page is about smartphones, the URL needs to have the keyword otherwise it would be hard for both the search engines and the users to determine the content of the URL. We should never use random numbers as against proper words/keywords as this would not serve any purpose.
Compare the above two URLs. The first one looks perfect. It gives us hint about the content of the page whereas the 2nd URL appears random and completely meaningless.
Use keywords but don’t stuff your URL with too many keywords because that would make it look absurd and also search engine might treat as spam. Keep it short, meaningful and sweet.
3# Sub Directory
To use subdirectory or not to use – that is the question that troubles us all. If your website has a lot of segments or has different products, it makes sense to create folder structure for each section. This helps us keep things in order.
In the above two example, the first one shows the location of the product in the hierarchy of the website whereas the 2nd URL does not show the existing structure of the website. However, it all up to you at the end. Choose wisely.
ThisURLStructurebetter? Okay I think I have forgotten to add space between the words and that is why it is not making any sense. The same goes true with URL. You simply can’t place words side by side but that would not make any sense. You need to use hyphen to separate words so that search engines and users both can understand. Some people even use underscore to separate words which is technically not okay as underscores are not used to separate words. However, as search engines have evolved, you would not have to worry about hyphen or underscore. You can use any of them.
5# Length Of The URL
Short URLs are always appreciated because extra long URLs always get truncated by search engines. In a perfect world, you should not be using more than 5 to 6 words in a URL. You should not use stop words like – ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘therefore’ etc or unnecessary words in the URL. 60 characters is ideal length of a URL.
6# Use Canonical
You like it or not, but sometimes it appears that the same URL is accessible via different paths. Since different URLs mean different pages to search engines, it might lead to the problem of internal duplicate content issue. So, we need to fix this issue by setting up canonical for the preferred version of URL.
In the above example, home page of a normal website can be accessed via those four different URLs. To fix this issue, we need to choose one URL as the preferred version and applying the code within the <head></head> section of all these pages –
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com/” />
So, these are some of the aspects of URL structure that we need to consider while doing On Page SEO audit for a website.