Creating optimised URLs is an important part of any SEO strategy. Whilst their impact on your website’s rankings is such that you can’t afford to ignore them, ensuring your URL structure is SEO-friendly may seem like a complicated business at first glance.
In this blog post, we’ll take you through the various aspects of URL optimisation, helping you to work towards a more robust SEO strategy. To start with, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why an SEO-friendly URL structure matters in the first place.
The Importance of URL Structure
Like many other aspects of online content, there are two main reasons why URL-structure is important. The first of these reasons is trust, which is specifically centred around the way human readers interpret your website’s credibility. The more trustworthy your website seems to users and search engines alike, the more likely it is to meet your business goals.
The second reason is SEO. With User Experience becoming a significant SEO ranking factor, your URLs are often crawled by search engine bots to assess how easy your website is to use/navigate. A well structured URL will categorise and breakdown specific areas of a website, and also demonstrate the nature of a web page.
The way in which you structure your website’s URLs can play a role in creating trust and SEO value, so how exactly should you structure them?
Step 1: Choose a Top Level Domain
One of the most basic starting points of URL structure optimisation is focused around the type of domain you select. Websites may use a wide variety of domain names, with .com, .org and .net being some of the best-known examples.
Each of these domain names is a top-level domain, separating them from alternatives such as .biz and .pro. The latter domains are often viewed as being less trustworthy than the first, so it is advisable to opt for a top level domain if you’re looking to optimise your URL structure.
Step 2: Use SSL Encryption
SSL encryption is the technology that ensures website data is more secure. It achieves this by encrypting information, which in turn increases security and builds trust with users. Websites that use SSL encryption will be displayed as ‘HTTPS’, whereas websites without an SSL certificate will be listed as ‘HTTP’.
One of the reasons why SSL encryption matters for SEO optimisation is because search engines favour secure websites over those that are less secure. Google confirmed it uses HTTPS as a ranking factor as far back as 2014, although its concrete effect on rankings is likely to be relatively minor.
Even though ensuring your website incorporates SSL is unlikely to see you soar through the rankings, it should undoubtedly be part of a broader URL optimisation strategy.
Step 3: Include Your Keywords (But Don’t Overdo It)
The use (and abuse) of keywords has been a recurring discussion in the SEO world – and their importance also extends to URLs. Incorporating relevant keywords into your URLs can be beneficial for both users and search engines. This is because URL keywords help users and search engines to instantly understand what the page is about.
It’s important to note that overusing keywords – a practice commonly known as keyword stuffing – will be counterproductive. As well as making the URL seem spammy from a user’s perspective, search engines such as Google will penalise you for it, weakening your SEO efforts in the process. For this reason, try to focus on including one or two target keywords as part of your URL structure.
Step 4: Keep Your URLs Short and Sweet
When it comes to creating your URL structure, shorter is almost always better. There’s a significant body of evidence to suggest that shorter URLs generally enjoy a better SEO performance in comparison to more lengthy ones. A 2016 study by Backlinko is one of the best-known examples of this.
The length of your URL will partly depend on the specific words you’re trying to incorporate. Having said that, it is advisable to keep your URLs around the 50 character mark where possible.
Step 5: Ensuring URL Readability
Readability is key when it comes to creating well-structured URLs. With this in mind, your URL should give users a clear idea of what they’ll find once they click on the link in question. If, for example, you’re creating a URL for a blog about backlinks, you may want to structure it as follows:
Although the above is just an example, it comes in useful when comparing it to a more unsuitable URL structure. An example of an undesirable URL structure could be:
One of the main issues with the URL structure above is that the user has very little reason to trust the link’s contents. This is because the URL’s format does not give any clues as to what may be found on the page, which will make users reluctant to click on it.
If you’re looking to capture and maintain users’ attention, your URL structures should be aimed at making their online journey as straightforward as possible. Creating readable URLs plays a role in turning that goal into a reality.
Step 6: Limit the Number of Folders
Keeping your URL structures as clear as possible also involves you limiting the number of folders you use. Folders appear as slashes in the URL, and having too many of them can suggest an intimidating level of website depth that may be off-putting to your users.
Creating a straightforward and logical folder structure is also relevant to its performance in search. The more folders a URL has, the longer it will become. As a result, the URL is likely to be cut off when displayed on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP), which may affect a searcher’s willingness to click through.
Adding to that, a higher number of folders will also make edits to the URL more complex. For this reason, it is advisable to use a maximum of two folders where possible.
Eager to Learn More? Get In Touch
If you would like to learn more about the SEO services offered by Champions Digital, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team via [email protected]. Alternatively, speak to a member of our team directly on 0845 331 30 31.