As of today, it is the dream of webmasters and web owners to have SEO-friendly URLs and permalinks on their sites. Especially, formatted for the correct search engine appearances in the meta box results. But, many of them often fail to achieve this. So, how do you even go about it?
In the past, we received a lot of questions regarding optimizing your WordPress SEO URL / permalink structure. Questions ranging from whether you should have the category in your permalink structure to the length of your slugs.
With this in mind, therefore, in this post, we’ll address some of these questions and attempt to give you a better understanding of your permalink structure.
What is the meaning of SEO-friendly URLs?
Firstly, a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is an address for all the documents and other resources on the Internet. We can easily read the URL and know what is on the website.
Secondly, it replaces the number used by a computer to talk to servers. Just like our home has an address a website on the internet also needs an address, using which one can easily find the website on search engines.
Therefore, what this means is that having the URLs as friendly as possible is always a lucrative beneficial goal for webmasters. But, lets first consider why they are the backbone of SEO.
If the URL is confusing and not clear then people will not take any interest in the website and the bounce rate will be high. The website will not even rank high in the search engine because Google also takes the URL into consideration.
In addition, getting a good URL Structure can be a bit tricky but with proper planning and precaution, it is possible. Even though there is no fixed formula to make good URL Structure, there are, however, some rules following them.
Obviously, ensuring we get most out of our URL and set our site for future SEO success.
What are the benefits of SEO-friendly URLs?
To get more organic search and improve the search ranking we do On-Page Optimization. It means to make a change on the website and thereby making it more Search Engine friendly.
In fact, this helps to improve the conversion rate and helps a business earn more profit. One of the major things to focus while doing on-page optimization is the URL structure of the website.
Well as we say the first impression is the last impression. The same goes for the website the first impression of the website is the URL.
URL structure has some benefits like:-
1. SEO-friendly URLs help in Ranking
Although URL plays a minor role in determining the rank of the page in the search engine and also the relevancy of the query.
But using a keyword in URL can also improve the page ranking. It is important to remember that while URL improves website visibility. URLs alone themselves do not have a major impact on the rank of the page.
Therefore, it will be a waste of time to create a URL simply to include keywords in them.
2. Linking is successful on SEO-friendly URLs
When a proper URL is there than it can also help to serve as a link while sharing information on various social media channels and other platforms.
We can easily copy and paste the link on various channels and can drive more traffic to the website from other channels.
3. Helps in improving general Users Experience
If the designing of URL is correct then it is beneficial for both humans and search engines. They can easily understand what the landing page of the website is all about.
As an example, a semantically accurate URL clearly shows the destination. This will provide the user to understand what is inside and the chances of a user clicking the link increases.
SEO-friendly URLs general Facts for Webmasters
In reality, Category Archives are the most important and basic Landing Pages of any given website.
Your category archives are essential for SEO. In fact, especially for eCommerce sites, they can be more important than individual pages and posts.
Those archives should be the first result in the search engines; they’re landing pages. They should therefore also provide the best user experience.
The more likely your individual pages are to expire, the more this is true. If your site is a shop and your products change, your categories are more important.
If your site is a job listing site where jobs expire, your categories are more important. Otherwise, you’d be optimizing pages that are going to be gone a few weeks/months later.
Below are more consideration factors for SEO-friendly URLs.
Domain Name Selection
Using a top-level domain name can help, it will not directly impact ranking but will improve and build trust among customers.
As a matter of fact, that implies to the top-level domains “.com” domain rather than “.biz,” “.pro,” “.tel,” etc. Although it is not realistic to be able to land your brand name with a “.com” domain (there were over 124 million “.com” domains of 2016).
Having said that, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re choosing a domain in the future. It is advisable to use subdomains for the content rather than using subfolders.
Keywords inclusion in URLs
The keyword means the term that the user uses to search for content.
Keywords on a page should be relevant to what people are searching for so they have a better chance of finding your content among the results. Including the keyword in the URL is a good idea as it will help to improve the ranking of the page.
It is one of the most prominent elements searchers consider when selecting which site to click. When there is no anchor text than the URL acts as an anchor text.
Equally important, it also helps the user understand what they are clicking on the page that is relevant to what they are searching for.
Avoid the use of Stuffed Keywords
By the same fashion, it is also important to remember to never stuff URL with too many keywords one or two keywords in URL is enough.
Also, one should not repeat the keywords unnecessarily. Repetition is pointless because Google will in no way reward you for using a keyword that appears more than once.
Also, it makes the content look spammy and reduces the creditability in the eyes of search users.
SEO-friendly URLs Length
Having a URL Structure less than 50-60 characters is a good practice and nothing to worry about but a URL with 100+ characters is not a very good idea.
Although having a long URL is not an issue with search engines and they can easily process it but it hampers users’ experience. Shorter URLs are easy to copy and paste, to share on social media, and to embed.
The shorter the better. A graph that shows that google ranking declines when the length of URL increases.
Using Categories and Tags
We often encounter sites with category and tag structures that are completely unmanaged. Even large news sites can suffer from over usage of tags and categories.
Tags and categories are both examples of a taxonomy system. When used correctly, a good taxonomy system can boost your site’s SEO.
The opposite is also true: when used wrong, it’ll break things. This article dives into why those pages are so important and how to use them.
We’ll use category archives as our prime example below.
Utilizing the site Landing Pages
Yes, Of course! Landing pages are vital to SEO-friendly URLs.
To enumerate, in digital marketing, a landing page is a standalone web page, created specifically for the purposes of a marketing or advertising campaign.
Not forgetting, it’s where a visitor “lands” when they have clicked on a Google AdWords ad or similar.
Landing pages are designed with a single focused objective – known as a Call to Action (CTA).
This simplicity is what makes landing pages the best option for increasing the conversion rates of your Google AdWords campaigns and lowering your cost of acquiring a lead or sale.
To fully understand the difference between a landing page, and the other pages on your website, such as your homepage, it’s important to consider the differences between organic search traffic and paid search traffic too.
For instance, when asking the question, “What is a landing page?” you need to understand that they are designed for paid traffic like Google Adwords.
Read more here: Landing Pages and Organic vs. Paid Search Traffic
Taxonomy Archives for SEO-friendly URLs
Even though it’s clear that taxonomy archives are very important, they usually don’t get the love they deserve.
To make your category pages awesome, just add a bit of introductory content focused on the topic of that category. Add links to that introductory content pointing to the best articles or products in that category.
This will go a long way in making sure that when a user lands on such a page, he or she doesn’t bounce. A good archive page works as a hub and should make me want to read more, not less of your site.
This does mean that every category and tag page needs to have some custom-written text. That’s not hard, but it can be a lot of work. Nobody said this was going to be easy 😉
As an example, Yoast SEO plugin helps you with optimizing your category pages. For one thing, it analyzes your category page content.
Avoid Duplicate Tags and Categories
A related issue we often see, are sites that have duplicate tags and categories. When you have a category “bathing suits”, you shouldn’t have a tag “bathing suits” too. If you do, which one should Google rank first?
The same goes for single or plural; an article shouldn’t be in the categories “shirt” and “shirts”.
A post shouldn’t have the tag “WordPress plugin” and “WordPress plugins”. One of those shouldn’t exist. Pick single or plural and stick with it for all your category and tag terms.
Consider Breadcrumb Archives
Generally, your website Breadcrumbs play an important role in this type of setup. Each individual item should link back to the nearest category.
Simply put, this shows Google the structure of your site, but it also enforces the authority of the category page for the topic.
Having the URL structure reflect the category can help – if the topic of your category adds value to the product or post. But beware: don’t change your URL structure if you have an existing site.
Main Ground rules for SEO-friendly URLs
No matter what kind of website you have, there are a couple of ground rules that apply to all websites.
Below, you’ll find some of these ground rules to help better your site with SEO-friendly URLs.
Always remember, the best SEO-friendly URLs differ per type of website.
Having said that, below, pick your type of site(s) to jump to the information that best applies to you.
But, if you would like to consider our general elaborate points, follow the leads below;
URLs Keyphrase Focus
The main thing to keep in mind is that your URLs should be focused.
Strip your URLs of function words like ‘a’, ‘of’, ‘the’ etc. In 99% of the cases, these words add nothing of value to your URL.
If possible, strip your URLs of verbs as well. Words like ‘are’ or ‘have’ are not needed in your URL to make clear what the page is about.
The length of your URL isn’t really a factor in this. We do recommend to keep your URLs as short as possible.
It’s not that Google doesn’t like lengthy URLs, but shorter URLs are most probably more focused.
Keep in mind that if you use breadcrumbs on your site, as we do, these could appear instead of the full URL:
The Length of your URLs
Length isn’t that much of an issue: Google will show what they think is important for that visitor.
Keep in mind that meta titles and descriptions are cut off at 512 pixels, and so is your URL.
However, don’t use underscores, as these connect the words and make them into one. Dashes are preferred.
Need more Help in Structuring your Site URLs?
As can be seen, if you want to rank high, you need to have a site structure that makes sense to Google and users.
After all, it will teach you how to optimize every aspect of your website’s structure. Wondering if it’ll fit your needs? Get a free trial today!
All in all, I hope you have gathered enough information in regards to the topic we have discussed above. Particularly, on how to achieve the best SEO-friendly URLs on your site.
But, since, we may not have covered it all, consider sharing your thoughts, suggestions or even contributions in the comment box, or even Contact Us.
Finally, consider the following links as more useful and related to the topic above.
- What is the difference between tags and categories?
- What is a Landing Page?
- Site structure: the ultimate guide »
- Read why site structure is important
- The perfect WordPress SEO permalink structure