March 31, 2021

The Basics Of URLs: Why You Need To Make Them SEO-Friendly

You probably do not spend too much time thinking about your URL, much like other "small" parts of your page like the header tags and alt text. However, it does not mean these are less important. Here are reasons why you should have an SEO-friendly URL and best practices in optimization.


First Things First: What Is A URL?

'URL' is the acronym for Uniform Resource Locator, which, simply speaking, is a page's web address. All pages on the internet have a URL, and the basic structure starts with the website's domain name followed by characters that pinpoint the page's exact location. 

For example, the U.S. government's official website is https://www.usa.gov/. To access the page on the country's national data and statistics, you go to https://www.usa.gov/statistics. The domain is "usa.gov," and the path is "/statistics." To have an SEO-friendly URL, you need to use keywords that both users and search engines can easily read—the U.S. government's URLs are a great example of that. If your URL reads something like "https://website.com/folder/rjxtqxvl5/14," that is not SEO-friendly at all.


Why URLs Are Important To SEO

A URL that users can read easily improves their experience and allows them to navigate your website better. The URL shows up in search results, so users who have little to no context about your brand will find SEO-friendly URLs helpful. Consequently, you could have higher click-through rates. Also, the URL is an SEO ranking factor. Although it is a minor one, it is still essential.


How Do You Optimize Your URLs For SEO?

It is crucial to plan every aspect of your website if you want to lay the groundwork for efficient optimization. Getting a good domain name will help your SEO efforts. Short, catchy domains are the best—the readers will remember your domain easily if you use only two to three words. Also, choose a .com, .net, or .org domain whenever you can, especially if you're targeting audiences outside your state or country. For local businesses, it is advantageous to register in your country's domain. A plumber in London, for example, would benefit from a .co.uk domain.

Using suitable internet security protocols also matters. Installing a TLS or transport layer security allows you to encrypt your network. All web designers and programmers use security measures like these today. Any information you send through a TLS-encrypted network protects the confidentiality of the communication and the parties involved.

Websites that start with "https" have this type of protocol. Users trust websites with this encryption level because it gives them peace of mind that the website owner cares about their security online. Also, TLS encryption gives your site a ranking boost.


How To Use Keywords in URLs

URLs should include the company or organization's target keywords. For example, a company with the URL "https://www.ontariorealtor.ca" might have blog posts on home improvement, with titles like "How To Budget For A Whole-House Remodel" or "13 Things To Consider When Remodeling Your Kitchen." The URL of these posts cannot include all of the words in the blog title. Instead, it will look something like this:


https://www.ontariorealtor.ca/blog/house-remodel-budget

https://www.ontariorealtor.ca/blog/kitchen-remodel-guide


Note that the paths do not have more than three words, and they use keywords present in the titles of the blog posts like "kitchen remodel." URLs typically have one keyword, and stuffing will negatively affect your rankings, as is what happens when you stuff keywords into title and header tags or paragraphs. Following this logic, avoid writing URLs like "https://www.ontariorealtor.ca/house-remodel/house-remodel-budget." 


Other Things To Remember About URLs

URLs should be in lowercase. Most content management systems will allow uppercase letters in the URLs, but note that Google interprets capital letters as different from their lowercase counterparts. As a result, "https://www.ontariorealtor.ca/blog/house-remodel" will read as an independent page from "https://www.ontariorealtor.ca/Blog/House-Remodel." Keep your URLs in lowercase, so you don't accidentally cause issues regarding duplicate content.

Another thing to watch out for is the URL of images on your site. If you upload an image with a space in the name, for example, the space will become "%20." An image you titled "remodeling in kitchen," for example, will show up as "remodeling%20in%20%kitchen.jpg," which doesn't look very nice to readers.


Finally, keep your folder structure to two levels at most. The folders are the slashes that separate different pages in a URL. 


For example, a URL directly linked to the domain would be "https://www.ontariorealtor.ca/house-remodel." 


Meanwhile, a URL one level down is "https://www.ontariorealtor.ca/blog/house-remodel." 


A URL two levels down is "https://www.ontariorealtor.ca/blog/guide/house-remodel."


Your folder structure should be simple. If your folders are too deep, you might lose browsers. Some people might get impatient when they need to click through several pages to get the information they want.


Conclusion

The URL of a page is one of its linchpins. People don't often think about this string of words and symbols, but it is vital in keeping your website organized. When you're planning out your URLs, ensure that you keep them short and straightforward.

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