6 best practices for making URLs search-engine friendly
URLs are important. In the search engine optimisation world, URLs can not only contain important keywords, but they also help search engines and users quickly understand what a page is about.
By making URLs more search engine friendly, you may improve search engine visibility of your page, organic rankings, and traffic.
But how do you make your website’s URL more search engine friendly? Here are six best practices to guide you:
1. Plan ahead
Before we start, it is crucial to reiterate that URL structures should be planned carefully before you start publishing web pages.
It is because although URLs can be changed later, it is not considered a best practice. Changing URLs — depending on how it is done — may lead to broken pages, 404 errors, and a loss in SEO value, keyword rankings for web pages, and organic traffic.
Therefore, it is ideal to create a URL plan before kicking off your website.
2. Pick a single version of your domain
Your website may have an http version and an https version. Similarly, there could be a version that starts with www and another version without it.
For example, http://www.yoursite.com and https://yoursite.com.
While both these versions may look the same to you, Google will likely treat them differently. There should only be one root version of your domain.
All the other versions should be 301-redirected to that main version. For instance, the http version of your site should redirect itself to the https version. So instead of having two different versions of your web pages — because of separate domain versions — you just have one powerful version.
3. Permalink structure
When you start your website, it is highly recommended to set on a permalink structure. If you have a WordPress website, you can find multiple permalink options in WordPress Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks.
For most websites and business types, the post name structure is recommended. If you have a news website where the timing of the content is very important, you can go with the day and name or month and name options, but we suggest keeping it simple.
You can also opt for a more custom structure. However, under no circumstances should you go with plain and numeric options.
4. Stick with a URL convention
Once you have identified how you want your URLs to appear, make sure to stick with it.
Even minor things can make a huge difference. For example, trailing slashes can result in completely different versions of web pages — causing issues like duplicate content and lower organic rankings in the SERPs.
The trailing slash issue means that the following two posts might be treated as different versions by search engines:
If you run into this issue, redirect one link to the other one to avoid duplication problems.
5. Keep URLs short
We also highly recommend keeping URLs short, descriptive, and self-explanatory. And this is exactly why we suggest avoiding the day and name or month and name URL conventions earlier.
Other than keeping URLs short, you should also avoid any special characters in the URL.
Here is a very good example of how short URLs should look like:
6. Keyword optimisation
Last but not least, keyword optimisation in URLs is, of course, a crucial aspect of making them more search engine friendly.
The idea is to include at least the primary keyword in the URL. The primary keyword refers to the keyword or keyword phrase that you are trying to optimise a web page for.
We have noticed that having an exact search term in the URL can provide a competitive edge in the search engine results pages. However, keyword optimisation should not come at the cost of clarity, transparency, and accuracy.
Ideally, you should have a descriptive, high-quality web page that covers one topic in detail. That topic should have a high-volume keyword phrase that you can also use in the URL of that web page.
URLs are still an integral part of basic on-page search engine optimisation. By optimising URLs and following best SEO practices regarding URL structures, you can give your website a better chance to rank higher in the SERPs.