.I was recently delivering four social media workshops at the International Jewellery Show over two days, and after helping entrepreneurs go through a digital Transformation, I had more than one person ask me about websites and in particular; URL structure.
After building several websites over the last 10 years, I have realised that URL structure is an important piece of the puzzle when look at what makes a successful website.
Here are 7 of the best practices to help you create the perfect URL structure for your website.
1. Does It Make Sense?
The first best practice I want you to think about when it comes to your URL structure is whether it makes sense. If we look at the title of an article of mine, and compare it to its URL structure, it still needs to make sense (it doesn’t have to be exact word-for-word).
The blog example below is titled “7 Of The Best Plugins For WordPress”.
Even with words removed, you can still make sense of what the article will cover. You want to create trust so that when someone sees your URL inside of Google, you are delivering based on their expectation of receiving exactly what the URL structure says they will receive.
2. Avoid Too Many Redirects
When someone comes to a web page of yours, and clicking on something will re-direct them that’s fine because it’s an A to B jump. Anything further into a C jump to D, and you may lose ranking, and search engine signals may not pick up the redirecting URL’s.
With so many searches now taking place on Mobile, this is where it gets even more important because mobile users are not interested in being moved to redirects as they will soon lose interest. Keep your re-directs to a minimum to avoid both a negative search engine ranking, and a “not so happy” prospect.
If, as a human you can read a URL and have no problem understanding it, then neither with the search engines. Whilst this is subjective, the general concept is to keep the URL as clean as possible, and relevant to the URL they are wanting to access.
4. Don’t Worry About Stop Words
As I have just said above, readability is so important, but both humans and search engines are intelligent and can fill in the gaps when stop words (and, but, the, a, or etc) are missing and it’s OK to do this.
When stop words are key to the content you are sharing, use them but if the URL structure is already too long, and the stop words are not necessary to make something readable, then remove them.
Keywords in a URL structure are most important from a blog aspect. If you are doing everything you can around SEO, and using keyword-rich meta data, then give yourself an extra boost by making sure that the keywords you are focusing on, are also in the title (within means).
Research has shown that the URL is one of the most important elements searchers will consider when clicking on a website, so make sure your keywords are relevant to the URL.
6. URL Parameters
A URL parameter can be defined as:
“URL Parameters are parameters whose values are set dynamically in a page’s URL, and can be accessed by its template and its data sources. This makes pages incredibly dynamic, enabling a single page to power an endless number of views.”
You may want to consider rewriting parameters to become static, readable, text and tools such as mod_rewrite, and MS’ URL Rewrite Module will help you do this.
Whilst it’s great to track clicks through parameters, consider whether the benefits outweigh the negatives and if you are going to do this, be aware of the potential negative impact it may have.
7. Avoid Keyword Stuffing
I spoke about using keywords for your URL structure, but there is a fine line between using keywords, and keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing does drive potential website visitors away from your website and repetition can negatively impact your search results.
Search engines do not reward a business for having a keyword appear multiple times in the URL structure, so avoid doing this for any URL.
I hope that you have found my 7 best practices for the perfect URL structure insightful, and I would love to know what has helped you improve your website visitor count, as well as your search engine ranking!