Tying in to our pages about blogs and landing pages, as well as a good habit for all the pages on your website, URL structure is a small but important part of SEO. Quick refresher: URLs are what appears in the bar at the top of your browser and tell the computer what page to visit (i.e. https://www.punchmark.com). They’re often commonly called web addresses. URL structure is the way you build your URLs. You can optimize your URLs to improve SEO using keywords and a bit of finesse.
URL Structure for SEO
Like most every other component of SEO, the basis of a good URL starts with keywords. Your URL can tell visitors what you page is about if they see it on a SERP or copy-paste the naked URL into Facebook, Twitter, or the body of an email. Consider these two examples:
One clearly gives you an example of where you’re headed and what to expect. Without even going to the website, you can infer (correctly) that the top URL will bring you to an article on the website’s blog about types of engagement rings. The second URL doesn’t give you any indication of here you’re going, and it even looks a bit spammy.
Let’s break down the components of a URL:
HTTP/HTTPS: Every URL starts with a hypertext transfer protocol. (The S stands for secure, which you’ll want if making any e-commerce purchases or sharing information.) Every URL starts with this, and you can’t get rid of it.
WWW: In 1990 when the internet was fresh, adding “www” before your website was helpful to distinguish it as a piece of internet real estate. Now, it’s fairly redundant. You can choose to use it or not, as browsing windows will automatically redirect to the proper site regardless.
Domain name: Your domain name is the first part of your URL (in our case, it’s https://punchmark.com). Once you’ve established a domain name, it’s the first thing that tells search engines what your site is about. Typing “punchmark” into the search engine immediately pulls up our site on the first SERP.
Folders: Folders separate your content into sections. The deeper you go into a website, the more folders you’ll go into. myjewelrystore.com/services/ring-repair/request-quote has three folders: services, ring repair, and finally the request a quote page. These are where the keywords live, as well as the only part of your URL you have control over.
URL Best Practices
When building your site structure and creating URLs, less is more. Here are some guidelines to help you structure your URLs in a way that helps search engines and human readers:
Shorter is better. A shorter, more concise URL doesn’t give you a ton of room for keywords, but it helps you to hone in on the few you really want to hit and clearly tell your audience exactly what the page is about.
Use keywords in URLs. The reason is twofold: one, it helps search engines. Two, when your naked URL is copy-pasted, the URL itself becomes the anchor text. Both of these things help search engines and human readers.
Use dashes or underscores to separate words. Instead of smooshing three words into one, likethisexample, use dashes
_to separate words, like-this-example, or_this_example. Both are clean and readable. Other characters can cause encoding issues. Only use alphanumeric characters in your URLs (a-z, 1-9)!!!
Avoid capital letters in URLs. In certain cases, using capital letters can cause confusion on some types of operating systems. It’s best to avoid capital letters in general.
The page title should (usually) match the URL. You want your URL to reflect clearly what the page is about, and therefore matching the URL to the H1 is a good move in most cases.
Stop words aren’t necessary. Including a, of, the, an, and other stop words in your URLs won’t hurt them, but it isn’t necessary. Remember that shorter is better for clear readibility!
Avoid keyword stuffing. Instead of putting every keyword possible into your URL, focus on the one you really want the page to be about. Keyword stuffing will do more harm than good in the long run.
URL Structure in Practice
Here is an example of URL structure in action.
The Golden Karat is still focusing on improving their sales for gold rings. They notice that while the main pages of their website have good, clear URLs, they haven’t been intentional in naming their blog posts and landing pages that feed into their product pages. After updating the URLs to better reflect the page titles, The Golden Karat notices that their updated posts are getting a few more shares on social media because the naked URLs better display what the blog posts and landing pages are about.
URL structure isn’t going to drastically increase your SEO overnight, but it is one of those little things that’s easy enough to implement if you understand the basics. Over time it can make a difference in your site credibility and contribute to your ranking for target keywords.
After reading this section, you should understand the following:
What is a URL? How is a URL different from a domain?
What part of your URL can you use keywords in?
Name 3-4 tips for creating good URLs.
URL Action Items
To improve your SEO using URL structure, follow one or more of these steps:
Use a short, specific, and meaningful URL in your next blog or article post.
Go to Sitemanager > Content > Pages and skim through the list of URLs. Does each one clearly convey what the page is about?