How to create the perfect SEO-friendly URL

It’s 2020.

Do URLs (links) still matter for SEO?

Yes, they do.

They are still one of the major ranking signals for Google.

It helps in increasing page/domain authority.

In this post, I’ll explain all the factors that you need to take into account.

To create the best SEO-friendly URL.

Let’s begin!

Quick definition:

What is a URL?

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator.

Simply put, a URL specifies the “web address” of a  page.

Example:

URL example

For the above page on Facebook group badges, the URL is highlighted.

Note:

Every web page on the internet will have a URL.

Why are URLs important for SEO?

A URL is the first thing that a search engine bot (like Googlebot) crawls or reads.

So it represents what the page is all about.

Apart from being a ranking factor, it also improves user experience.

If in the SERP you see 2 results,

One with proper plain meaningful text in the URL

And the other,

With gibberish.

Which one would you prefer?

The former, right?

Example of a SEO-friendly URL:

SEO friendly url

Example of a non-SEO-friendly URL:

non SEO friendly url

I’ll explain all these and more in the below URL optimization techniques.

A URL is a trailer (like a movie trailer) to a page.

So you have to make sure that it relates to the page content.

As closely as possible.

And how do you do that?

How do you create the perfect SEO-friendly URL?

Below is the list of best practices:

1. Use keywords in the URL

You will have a bunch of keywords that you want your page to rank for.

Choose the one that best describes the page.

Use that.

Why?

When you add a keyword in the URL, it will tell Google what that page is all about.

And will constitute a SEO-friendly URL.

Take the below examples from Digidomain pages

duckduckgo url
new search console
keyword match type

You see that respective keyword(s) are added to all these pages.

When Google crawls these pages, the URL will give a pretty good idea about those page contents.

2. Keep a simple URL structure

A simple URL will always be an SEO-friendly URL.

What do I mean by that?

a. Do not include special characters.

Like !@#$%^& among others.

You can add numbers if they tend to be static conceptually.

Like the below

2019 updates

In the above page, I have collated all the highlights from this year.

And obviously those will not change.

Hence the year in the URL is fine.

I would do the same for 2020 as well.

Caution: Using an entire date is not a good sign.

Like:www.site.com/google-new-updates/21/10/19

This format tends to confuse search engines.

And they would not grasp the URL as strongly as they should.

b. Do not club words

Let’s say you want to add URL and SEO in the link.

Scenario 1: www.site.com/url-seo

Scenario 2: www.site.com/urlseo

Which URL do you think is preferred?

Check this: Google understands words & related acronyms.

But it will not split collated words to extract a meaning.

So, Google will grasp URL-SEO as two words separately.

Which makes sense.

But URLSEO is just random alphabets jammed together for Google.

Hence it would constitute as gibberish.

So the first Scenario is better right?

Always, avoid word collation.

c. Separate words with a hyphen

So if you should not collate words, what is the best way to differentiate them?

Best practice: Use Hyphen

Hyphen is usually the best and globally accepted character for an SEO-friendly URL.

Bad example:

non hyphenated url

Take any page from Digidomain.

hypenated url example 1
hypenated url example 2

All words are separated by a hyphen.

And thereby are easy to understand.

And if the page content is closely related to the properly-defined words in the URL, it will be easy for Google to grasp the entire page content.

3. Use short URL

It is proved that pages with shorter URLs are ranking better.

Longer URLs would take a longer time to be crawled.

And it does seem unnecessary especially if you can represent the same URL with fewer words.

Google can now easily figure out the topic of that page.

Good Example:

short url example

Bad Example:

long url example

Shorter URLs will not be truncated in the search results (I’ve explained this later).

Which will help in improving organic CTR.

Keyword effectiveness in a URL decreases as the URL length increase

4. Use lowercase

To be on the safer side use words in lowercase.

Good example:

lower case url

Bad example:

upper case url

Finally, the entire URL should be meaningful.

So that, both you and Google can understand it just by reading.

5. Stick to the display character limit

Now, the overall character limit of a URL is 2083 characters.

Wow, that’s long!

Yes, but it does not mean that you should extend it up to that.

Do a Google search for any keywords,

I’ll search for “Digital Marketing”

I get:

url character limit

Searching for “buy shoes online”

url character limit 2

In all these results, check for the character limit of the URL.

Exclude the ones that are truncated.

Among the ones that are not, check the maximum character limit.

You should try to create URLs within this limit.

A non-truncated URL will always have a better probability of higher CTR.

Another key point of an SEO-friendly URL.

6. Avoid adding dynamic content

By this I mean specifically dates.

Say, you have an article on an upcoming iPhone11.

You create a URL as follows:

www.site.com/new-iphone11/12/09/2019

Well, this is relevant to that page.

But now if you want to update that page, say, after a year.

With brand new information on that iPhone.

You can add content to it, no doubt.

But wait.

What about the URL?

It still states the earlier 2019 date.

So you either keep the same URL

Or

Create a new URL with a new date and redirect this page to that.

You see the intricacies involved if dates are added to the URL?

Instead, what you can do is keep the URL like

www.site.com/iphone11-updates

Now this page could have info on new iphone11 features, iphone11 news etc.

And you can keep updating the page and make it more relevant.

This way, you avoid

-creating new unnecessary URLs

-issuing 301 redirects, again unnecessary one

I used the date as an example as that is the most widely used dynamic parameter in a URL.

But you get the picture right?

Check out the below Digidomain links

new search console

Here I can add any update in the Search console without changing the link.

Hell, in the future even if, for some reason, Google shuts it down, I can add that too.

duckduckgo url

This is about 11 features.

I can change it to other topics like,

Duckduck Vs other search engines

The rise of Duckduckgo etc

Another one:

blogs to follow

Ive added 33 blogs yes.

But URL only states Blogs to follow.

So I can decrease or increase the number of blogs and the URL will still be relevant.

7. Add navigation

Ok, you have a new iPhone product page.

Apple iPhones is under Apple page.

Apple page is under Mobile page.

Mobile page is under the domain.

So how would the product link appear?

Will it be

www.site.com/new-apple-iphone

or

www.site.com/mobiles/apple/new-iPhone

Best practice: The second option with site navigation.

But avoid many folders in the navigation.

Ideally, not more than two.

Having navigation helps users and search engines recognize the exact location on the site.

Which is good provided there are not many sub-folders.

Example: Myntra

The product page URL (say for a sport shoe page) is as below

myntra.com/sports-shoes/puma/puma-men-navy-blue-emergence-running-shoes/8476363/buy

Only 2 sub-folders before the product URL.

So you will have a pretty good idea about the product location without fatigue.

Digidomain has no sub-folders in the URL.

Why?

Simply because one post can appear in more than one category.

And hence will raise the issue of duplicate URLs.

8. Don’t just copy the blog post titles

In WordPress, this option is default.

If you create a post, the URL fills up with the page title.

Like, if the post title is

21 ways to promote your app

The default URL generated would be

21-ways-to-promote-your-app

Don’t leave it at that.

Why?

Well, for starters, this will lengthen the URL.

Then there will be dynamic part that will be present.

Like the number 21.

Which makes it harder for you to change the post.

You can opt to change it to say,

/app-promotion

This is simple and yet describes what the post is

9. HTTPS vs HTTP

I thought I’ll add this as well.

As it is part of the link.

HTTPS is a must.

Secure sites are preferred, so no doubt about it.

Make your website secure.

10. URL in  WordPress

If you have a WordPress-based site, then you need to check your settings for URL adoption.

Under Settings in Permalinks section, you will find the below:

wordpress url options

As you can see, you have multiple options to choose from.

And as I mentioned earlier, choose the Custom one.

The one to create SEO-friendly URL.

Which you can work on.

The rest of the options have either dynamic characters or will be lengthy or both.

11. Ecommerce

In eCommerce, you will have many links that are almost identical.

Like mobiles, shoes, fashion etc.

In mobiles, say Samsung has released a new phone in 3 color variants.

Blue, Black and Red.

All the other specifications of the phones are the same.

But since these are 3 separate products, you have to create separate pages.

The page URL would be:

www.site.som/samsung-galaxy-blue-8-gb/productid

www.site.som/samsung-galaxy-black-8-gb/productid

www.site.som/samsung-galaxy-red-8-gb/productid

You will need to add the canonical tag here to separate the pages.

Let us take a look at some of the URLs from popular eCommerce sites.

Example: Flipkart mobiles

This site does not add subfolders to the URLs.

flipkart mobiles url

The URL has the domain name and the product name directly.

But what about URL query parameters?

Yes, almost every page would have those.

And adding these is not ideal.

But when you have a huge site, you would install tracking parameters in your site URL.

Adding these would not get your site penalized.

But a huge site like this would have millions of backlinks.

Along with a huge social media presence.

And promotions.

And even though they may not strictly follow guidelines.

They would still be at the top of the SERP.

Because of the traffic they get and promotions they run.

Example: Myntra

Myntra, on the other hand, uses sub-folders in the URL

myntra url

12. Query parameters

As I mentioned, eCommerce sites will have a lot of duplicate pages due to variants, sorting, facets etc.

How do you solve this?

You need to block all the unwanted links in your Robots file.

You can read on how to work on faceted(fileted) pages.

For the rest, check which ones you need to block.

To block search pages, you should add the below in the Robots file.

#Search Pages
User-agent: *
Disallow: /search?

That is, if your Search query URL in the site link is in that format.

To block sorted pages,

# Sorted pages
User-agent: *
Disallow: /*=sort*

Again, if your sort URL is in that pattern.

You get it right?


Conclusion

Choosing the URL is very critical for any site.

Unlike page title, content, description etc, once create these cannot be deleted and updated.

Only redirected.

Which you should avoid.

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