The issue of URLs are so small that they tend to get overlooked. It is probably of the most basic elements of SEO. However, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t extremely important to ensure you have the best URL structure for your SEO.
A highly thought out and optimised URL will work wonders for your website. As well as this, you are probably going to be keeping your URL for a significant period of time, so make sure you don’t rush the process of structuring your URL.
When first designing a website, there are so many things on your plate. People tend to forget about their URL and its importance. Some people even think that their URL doesn’t really matter. However, Backlinko will tend to disagree! They list a URL as some of the top 200 ranking factors by Google.
You can no longer afford to ignore the true importance of your URL.
There are a lot of different components that go into making up a URL. It isn’t as simple as putting a couple of keywords together. You need to think of what will impress both search engines and users. Let’s be honest, you may not think it, but your URL is one of the first things they will look at. So you will need to make a good first impression.
If you make a mistake in your URL and want to change it in the future, the process can be difficult. Especially if your consumers have become familiar with your old URL. A change in your URL could confuse your consumers, or worse, the new URL you want may even be taken.
This brings me to a bit of a side note. After structuring your URL perfectly for SEO, you may find that in the end it is already taken. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation don’t panic, there are a couple of things you can do. Have a read of the previous blog I wrote that addresses this issue.
Your URL should have a mixture of accessibility and usability.
A mixture that only SEO can help bring! When choosing how to structure your URL there is unfortunately no one size fits all kind of approach. There are a lot of different factors that will impact the approach you take. However, there are some simple rules and tips I can offer that will help you get the most out of your URL!
When thinking about your URL, it isn’t just your homepage that will be impacted. It is every single different webpage. You need to structure your base (homepage) URL for SEO which with then, in turn, assist in the structuring for other webpage URLs. However there are still more things you can do to ensure an SEO structured webpage specific URL.
Listed below are the top 5 ways to help you structure your URL more effectively for SEO:
1. Use Keywords
The first and most obvious point is to use your keywords. I find that a lot of businesses already do this, which is great! However, this is only one tip, so make sure that even if you are including keywords in your URL, you still take a look at the other points as well.
Your keywords are how consumers will find you. If you include a keyword in your URL you are showing to both the search engine and user that your website is very relevant to what they are looking for.
No matter the webpage, it will need to serve a certain purpose.
When you include a keyword in the URL, you are ensuring purpose is met. People (and search engines) will understand what your website is about and the right type of people will be visiting your website.
For example if your URL was "www.katyswonderfulday.com.au". Would your consumers know what your website is about, and the service or products you have to offer? Probably not! But if your URL was "www.katyswonderfulparties.com.au", then you have a better idea of what the website is about; parties.
Think about the keywords for your business. Choose one that most accurately describes your business. This should be a fairly easy process. Although, try to steer clear of long tailed keywords.
You want to keep your URL as short as possible.
2. Top Level Domain (TLD)
Including a TLD in your URL is very important. A TLD is the last part of your URL after the “dot”. TLDs are usually grouped into 2 categories, generic or country-specific. Typical TLDs include; .com, .gov, .org. You have probably seen all these TLDs in action. If you are an Australian based and operated website you should look to include the country specific TLD of .com.au.
Obviously, a TLD should always be your first choice.
However, sometimes your first choice isn’t available and you have to choice from a second level domain. If this is your only option, it isn’t all doom and gloom. A TLD doesn’t usually have a direct impact on your search engine rankings. It is more for the user, as it increases trust levels.
A TLD does however, have an indirect impact on your rankings. When users trust your domain, more people will tend to go to your website and stay on for longer. This has impacts on your SEO. I understand that it can be difficult to secure an available TLD. But if you have the option, a TLD should be your first choice.
I talked about this briefly in the first point about keywords. You should be aiming to keep your URL short. If it is too long it could cause problems.
The shorter you can make your URL, without compromising on readability, the better.
Your homepage isn’t the only URL you should keep short and sweet, you should be looking to make every single webpage URL as short as possible. Although, it is important to ensure your homepage URL is short because your other webpages will include additional characters that could make your URL too long!
The trusted Backlinko explains that shorter URLs will usually see better rankings than longer URLs. Why should you trust Backlinko? Well, they did extensive testing on about 1 million Google search results in order to produce the most reliable outcomes.
Below you can see the results on how the length of your URL impacts your ranking in Google:
You can clearly see the shorter your URL, the increased likelihood you will see a higher ranking position.
If you want to increase your chances of taking the coveted number 1 position on Google, your URL should probably sit at about 50 characters. As a guide, anywhere between 50 and 60 characters is ideal. Any more than 80 characters and this will most likely have a negative impact on your ranking.
So you have your character limit, but how many words should you include in your other URL webpages? Personally I think limiting the number of words in your URL to 5 is a good idea. Between 2 and 5 is ideal because it gives users a solid idea of what the specific page is about.
A couple examples from SEO Shark’s blog webpages:
- https://www.seoshark.com.au/humour-on-social-media/ – The topic of the blog is about whether it is a good idea to use humour on social media and how.
- https://www.seoshark.com.au/why-most-blogs-fail/ – The topic of the blog is about why most blogs end up failing and how to ensure you don’t fail.
- https://www.seoshark.com.au/creating-perfect-homepage/ – The topic of the blog is about the steps to creating the perfect SEO friendly homepage.
In the URLs you can clearly see they are short and concise, yet give the readers enough accurate information as to what the page is about.
4. Think of the Future
Are you going to stay national or go global? If there is the chance you could go global with your business then it is best to steer clear of country specific TLDs or anything else that will limit the ease of expansion. I know if you are just starting out your business it can be difficult to see where you could be in the future, but at least try to understand what your business could be capable of.
Also, as your business grows, so too will the website. You will be adding new pages and hopefully a blog, etc. So make sure you have a URL hierarchy that will work for many years into the future. I find that a lot of business don’t actually do this and therefore they end up with conflicting paths and sub-domains that make the URL longer and ineffective.
This also confuses both users and search engines when they try to work out what is on the webpage. Each time you put a “/” in your URL it creates a new folder or category. So keep it simple and limit yourself to only 2 folders.
This will help the URL flow much more logically from the domain to a category and then another sub-category if needed. This is all about the hierarchy of your website.
When Google understands your hierarchy better, they have the ability to more accurately rank your website.
Security is important for your website. One of the easiest ways to show both Google and users that your website is secure is by purchasing an SSL certificate. When you purchase an SSL certificate you are changing the beginning of your URL from “http://” to “https://”.
That little “s” certainly will make all the difference.
Why is security important? Well, in the past couple of years there has been a dramatic increase in cybercrime. Consumers understand this and they want to ensure that they are always protected when online. It no longer matters the type of website you run, consumers want to ensure their information is protected, even if it is just an email address.
When you purchase an SSL certificate all the information on your website becomes encrypted. So if a hacker does get their hands on that information, it is totally worthless to them without the encryption key.
Security is also important to Google and as a result it has become a ranking signal.
Your website is likely to receive a better ranking if you have an SSL certificate in place. This is a quick and easy thing you can add to improve your ranking. As well as this, many experts suggest that this ranking signal is only going to become more important in the future.
If you haven’t purchased an SSL certificate for your website, I suggest you should as soon as you can. You certainly do not want to jeopardise any personal information from your consumers. And it will also improve your ranking. It’s a win win!
Structuring your URL may not be one of your top priorities. However it is still very important that you take the time to develop a URL structure that is beneficial towards your SEO. Some businesses do not understand the influence of your URL on SEO.
Your URL is important and you will need to take the time to develop one that is highly optimised.
By optimising the structure of your URL for homepage and also other webpages, it makes it easier for both users and search engines to understand what is on each page. Sometimes, you could put in all the work only to realise that your URL is already taken. If this is the case don’t stress because you still have options available to choose from.
When structuring your URL for SEO there are 5 key components you should be aware of; using relevant keywords, choosing a top level domain, keeping it as short as possible, thinking of the future and ensuring security. When implementing these 5 tips your URL has a better structure and will help your SEO efforts.
I hope this blog helps you understand the importance of choosing a highly optimised URL. As well as this, it has given you the tips you need to better structure your URL for SEO. Always remember; URLs may seem insignificant, but they do have an impact on your SEO!
Sarah is the head of guest posts outreach and an SEO expert. Her interests are search engine optimisation, social media and brand management.