What is an SEO friendly URL and how to you create it? This question may come in your mind. SEO friendly URL is one of the important tasks to rank in search.
With competition higher than ever to rank as high as possible in Search Engine Result Pages (SERP), your small business can increase its rank though one simple change and it is optimizing the URL structure.
URLs can seem complicated to the visitor and understanding their best practices can feel overwhelming. Let’s go through some best practices to ensure every link on your website is well-optimized for SEO.
What is a Friendly URL?
A URL stands for for Uniform Resource Locator. In simple, a URL specifies the web address of a page. Each and every website page on the Internet has a unique URL.
For example: multivendorshoppingcarts.com/how-to-promote-your-local-business/
There are two parts of a URL. The first part is the domain name, in our example: multivendorshoppingcarts.com and the set of characters that follow i.e, /how-to-promote-your-local-business/
These two parts combined make up the unique URL of a page.
SEO-friendly URL, sometimes called “pretty links” use real words instead of automatically generated links that can look like this:
Why do URLs matter for SEO?
There are few factors why URL plays a role for SEO. Let’s have a look.
1.Friendly URLs improve user experience: SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic search engine results. Easy to understand URLs give both humans and ‘search engine spiders’ a good indication on what the page is all about.
For example: multivendorshoppingcarts.com/seo-friendly-url
By reading the above URL, a user can tell that the destination page has information related to an SEO friendly URL.
2. SEO ranking factor: Google has managed over the years to become better and more efficient when it comes to URL interpretation. Though all modern CMS platforms are able to output SEO optimized URL, but still there is an SEO ranking factor.
According to some SEO ranking studies, the majority of the pages in the first positions of Google have optimized URLs.
3. Links: According to Google, some users might link to your page using the URL of the page as the anchor text, so if your URL has relevant keywords, this provides search engines with more information about the page.
How to Create SEO Friendly URL
Here are some best practices for creating SEO-friendly URLs.
1. Use Your Keywords in URLs
One of the most common questions from readers when it comes to SEO friendly URLS is whether they should use keywords in the URL. The answer is a big YES. Your URLs should contains the keywords because it provides to both users and search engines more information on what a page is about.
For example: multivendorshoppingcarts.com/seo-friendly-url
The example URL describes exactly what the page is about by having the target keywords ‘seo’, ‘friendly’, ‘url’ separated by dashes.
In WordPress you can edit the URL and remove some words like ‘what’, ‘is’, ‘and’ etc.
2. Write shorter URLs
Although the character limit for URLs is up to 2048 characters but it is recommended to keep the URLs as short as possible. Not only are overly long URLs hard to understand, or even remember. They don’t rank very high too.
According to the research study by QuickSprout, the URLs ranked in the top 10% of search engine results had an average of 37 characters. There is no fast and easy rule, but SEO-friendly URLs are more focused on the content.
3. Use Hyphens Not Underscores to Separate Words
Since URLs are chains, you can’t use underscores or spaces, so typically, hyphens are used. Because hyphens are treated as spaces between words, while words connected by underscores are viewed as one word.
For example: multivendorshoppingcarts.com/seo-friendly-url [Optimized]
multivendorshoppingcarts.com/seo_friendly_url [Not optimized]
4. Use Lowercase Letters in URLs
URLs are case-sensitive. Characters in a URLs should be lowercase and do not use capital letters in your URLs. Most CMS will allow you to have uppercase letters in a URL.
For example: www.example/My-Url but this is different from www.example.com/my-url.
Google search engines will interpret these as two different pages.
To avoid this type of duplicate content issues, make sure that all your URLs are lowercase.
5. Use Static URLs and Avoid Special Characters
It is better to use static, non-changeable URLs. These URLs always remain constant with each page load. Special characters like @, $, %, #, ?, &, and =, may seem cute. Try to avoid these types of special characters. Google and other search engines omit them from search results; they consider special characters as spam. It is easier to read static URLs for both users and search engines.
6. Don’t Use Stop Words
There are about 800 words which search engine consider as Stop Words like “the”, “a”, “of”, “at”, and verbs. Don’t use them in your URLs or links. Google and other search engines omit them anyway, and they make your URL look longer.
7. URLs should be easy to read
Most SEO-friendly URLs should only include the required information, and keep it simple. Users and different search engines should be able to understand what is on each page just by looking at the URL.
8. Avoid Subfolders
Subfolders make URLs longer and more confusing to the readerSo, this type of URL can drop your site rankings by Google. If your link contains subfolders, it makes it much more difficult for search engines to crawl and rank your pages. Try to avoid subfolders, and keep links as short as possible.
Here is an example of what a URL with subfolders looks like:https://myexample.com/2019/03/24/seo-friendly-url
Here is a well-optimized link, with with the subfolders removed: https://myexample.com/seo-friendly-url
9. Add the category name in the URL if required
When you will run an eCommerce site, then you have to add your blog posts into categories and depending on your settings, the category name may be shown in the URL.
For example: https://www.example.com/watches/best-watches-to-buy
This is good as long as your category names are meaningful and make sense to the users.
How to configure URLs in WordPress
It is very easy to configure URLs in WordPress. WordPress is an SEO friendly platform. To configure the URLs just go to:
Settings –> Permalink Settings
Choose one of the common settings or write your custom structure.
You can choose the Post name setting, to directly linked your URLs to your domain without any folders or inter-mediators.
While publishing a post, WordPress will try and create the URL based on the title of the page.
What you can do to optimize your URL is just to click the EDIT button that is below the post title, configure your URL and then click on the SAVE DRAFT or UPDATE buttons.
Create SEO Friendly URL: Conclusion
SEO-friendly URLs are very important. Utilizing these above best practices for SEO-friendly URLs should help your site rank higher in search results.
One important thing to have in mind is that though if you have an already established website with lots of published pages, you should be careful with URL optimizations.
Don’t go and change your URLs just remove the ‘stop keywords’.
If you have a URL that does not make sense or has a lot of characters that are not meaningful then it’s worth taking the risk and making your URLs SEO friendly.
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