Before you go any further, it’s important that you have a grasp of what SEO is.
You should be familiar with how to properly target keywords with URLs and the importance of using relevant words in your blog post titles, meta descriptions, and content.
Even if you’re not an SEO practitioner, you can still use some of these techniques below here to build a better URL structure for your blog and increase site ranking.
What is URL Structure?
URL stands for Universal Resource Locator. It’s the address of a website. Every URL can be broken down into 3 parts:
a protocol (e.g. http://, https://)
a domain name (e.g. www.example.com)
and a path (e.g.: /products/slc/)
For example, this is what the end of a standard blog post URL looks like: https://www.justrank.my/properly-optimized-url/
The blog post title is the same as the directory name.
I use a Top Level Domain (TLD) .my on my website, which is justrank.my, because we are focusing on the local SEO in Malaysia.
But you can use any TLD such as .com, .org, .net.
Just make sure to take into account your target audience and choose a TLD that suits your purposes.
Typically, the protocol, domain name, and path will align with your target keywords or your content.
What I mean is that if you want to rank for the keyword “SEO services, then your blog post or page URL should be something like this:
This is a good and properly optimized url because it makes sure your readers are clicking on URLs that directly reflect what they’re looking for which is a service here.
Does URL Structure Matter to SEO?
I think it’s safe to say that URL matters.
The more relevant and keyword-rich your URL is, the better your chances of ranking for your chosen keyword.
It will also help you rank higher in organic search with non-branded keywords than a non-optimized URL structure.
From this report, if we scope down the ranking factors that are affected by URL as below:
- URL length is listed on #54 over 200
- URL path is listed on #55
- Keyword in URL is on #58
- URL string is listed on #59
Over 200 ranking factors, most of these URL-related structures are being listed in the 50ish range. It does make a big significant ranking influence and matter to SEO.
Please be noted that the report is by no means representing Google’s actual ranking factors. These are conducted purely based on their own assumptions and research.
7 Hacks to Help You Craft the Perfect URL Properly
I’m going to show you how to properly optimize the URL structure to gain some SEO advantages.
These hacks are a combination of some I have found while researching on the subject, some that I have been using and it’s working from my own experience, and some that just make sense to me.
I will also explain why I think every one of these hacks is useful for SEO gain from your url structure.
So first up, let’s go over what makes up a good URL structure and how to use it to drive more traffic.
#1. Humans read words, not strings of numbers.
I’m telling you, it’s a big sin having an ugly URL structure for your website.
Avoid the dynamic URLs structure.
When I say ugly, I mean a string of numbers as the directory or path section of your URL.
It’s just so frustrating having to type in a numerical sequence to get to some content.
Keep your URL simple and meaningful so people can remember them and share them easily online.
#2. Insert keywords into your URL whenever possible.
The search engine works on keywords.
So, try to map your keywords into your URL structure to make it more discoverable and relevant as well.
When you use the proper keyword in the directory or path section of your URL, it will definitely help you rank higher and get more traffic.
The reason for this is that it may provide a subject-based signal to what a page is about.
With that saying, insert only appropriate keywords into the URL where it deems make sense.
Do not stuff keywords into every single element.
Just keep it simple and use the keywords as a classification for your content or post.
Stuffing keywords was never a good practice nor advice.
#3. Avoid stop words.
Stop words are words that are so common in language and communications, they’re not necessary to provide context or meaning for a sentence.
They don’t provide any more information about the sentence itself.
Words like “a”, “the”, “or”, “but” are some in the list.
You get the idea.
These are the filler words that bring no meaning to your URL structure.
These are not content that needs perfect grammar.
As long as the URL structure is readable and people understand them in one look, it’s all fine and great for me.
#4. Use Hyphens for spacing in between words.
Here’s an example.
With this URL structure, you can see the hyphens separating the words.
This is a nice little trick to make your URL structure easier and readable for searchers.
How about I use underscore and the URL looks like this:
Well, it all goes back to how these crawlers or Google bots read it.
It may seem readable to humans but the bots will perceive it as “isthismorereadable” which utterly makes no sense at all.
This hack is recommended by Google itself too.
#5. Use only lowercase.
First off, the domain part is not case-sensitive.
Literally, it doesn’t matter if you upper case or lower case your domain part.
But, this does not apply to the path of your URL.
It gets a bit technical from here.
Windows type of server environment works regardless of upper or lowercase for your URL path.
The difficult part is the Linux environment where it works only with a lowercase.
An uppercase path for a Linux server will return an error code causing the searcher unable to view your webpage.
To reduce those errors and mistakes, always use lowercase for your URL structure.
#6. Shorter is better.
A decent URL structure should have no more than 45-50 characters.
The shorter the better.
Technically, you can have 2000 characters of URL for a modern browser and they would have no problem rendering it.
But if you can have it shorter while expressing the intention in your URL, it would be the perfect combination.
We all know Matt Cutts had left Google for some time now.
But he did recommend somewhere between 3 to 5 words in your URL path would make the balance in this interview.
I would probably take the advice here.
Now, it does not mean we must rewrite all our URLs out of a sudden.
If most of your URL lengths are less than 100 characters (better if it was less than 70), I would presume we are in good hands.
I might only consider rewriting and redirect URLs that are over 100 characters in length to optimized and gain some value here.
#7. Match the URL to your page title or intention.
This is an obvious one.
It’s all about intention and entity matching.
Search engines are way more advanced than they are 10 years back.
They analyze your content, understand what the page is talking and it’s not just about keyword matching.
URL would be the first entry point for them to analyze.
It only makes sense if the keyword selection in your URL matches what your page is talking about.
Try to be precise and avoid messy URLs.
A page title represents the topic or intention as a whole and URLs should match the page title as closely as they can.
It’s like summarize everything in 3 to 5 words and use it as your URL path structure.
I hope these tips will help with your journey of optimizing your website and gaining rankings!
I am hoping that you get some ideas on how to craft out your perfect optimized URL by now.
Having a perfect URL structure is still not enough for you to rank at #1 on Google.
But it’s one of the stepping stones along with other on-site SEO factors such as schema markup, internal linking, content optimization, etc.
Let’s recap on how to properly optimized URL:
- Keep it simple, and short
- Use the correct keywords when possible
- While it’s for the search engine, it should be readable for human as well.
Bonus: If you are writing in a foreign language, try to use that particular language in your URL path for SEO gain too.
With all these tips combined, try to implement some of these tips into your next post or web page URL.
Take the https://www.justrank.my/seo-services/ as the properly optimized URL example.
A https://www.justrank.my/seo-服务/ would be a better placement for your Chinese version or https://www.justrank.my/dienstleistungen-seo/ in Germans.
With that, we hope you grasp some ideas on how to properly optimize your next blog URL.
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