First impressions count.
And when it comes to your website, your URLs are often the first thing Google and customers will see.
URLs are also the building blocks of an effective site hierarchy, passing equity through your domain and directing users to their desired destinations.
They can be tricky to correct if you don’t plan ahead, as you can end up with endless redirect loops. Neither Google nor your site visitors will appreciate those.
So they are worth getting right. But getting an SEO Friendly URL structure right involves a complex blend of usability and accessibility factors, along with some good old-fashioned SEO.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are some rules we can all follow to get the most out of our URLs and set our sites up for future SEO success.
Use Your Keywords
Every time you launch a page on your domain, it should have a purpose. Whether transactional, informational, or administrative, its reason for existence should be clear at the outset.
You’ll want this page to be discovered by the right people (and crawlers), so you will incorporate some keyword research and include the relevant terms. The most descriptive of these — the term that gets to the nub of what this page is about — should be included in the URL, close to the root domain.
Examples of good and bad URLs
Here’s an example of a good URL:
and here’s an example of a bad URL:
Don’t stuff URLs full of keywords
Stuffing URLs full of keywords hurts readability and is a clear sign of over-optimization, so avoid doing this. It doesn’t add any value, and it may even hurt your SEO performance.
Keep URLs short
Visitors and search engines both prefer short URLs, so keep URLs short. Use as few directories as possible, and if you can use just one, do so.
But short URLs are a technique, not the goal. Your goal is readable and logical URLs.
Keep URLs consistent
You need to choose one preferred way to build up the URLs on your website and stick to it. This preferred way of structuring your URLs is called your URL structure. But what preferences can you choose from? In order to answer that question, let’s look at the anatomy of a URL.
Protocol: HTTP or HTTPs
Choose whether or not to serve your URLs over a secure connection, using the HTTPs protocol.
It’s recommended to serve your URLs over HTTPs. If you’re still making the switch from HTTP to HTTPs, make sure to 301-redirect requests for the HTTP variant of URLs to the HTTPs variant of URLs. And vice versa.
Subdomain or no subdomain
Choose whether or not you’ll use the www subdomain.
If you choose to use www, make sure to 301-redirect requests for URLs without the www subdomain to the URL variant with www. And vice versa.
The domain name consists of a name and an extension: a Top Level Domain (TLD).
If you’re in the position to choose a new domain, choose one that’s short and easy to remember.
Directories in URLs
While it’s important to keep URLs as short as possible, it’s also recommended to group related URLs together on your website using directories. Directories can become useful for websites with even as few as 50 pages.
Are you having trouble organizing your URLs using only one level of directories because of the size of your website? You can use sub-directories if that helps bring back order but keep the amount of directories per URL as low as possible.
Choose short directory names, to keep your URLs as short as possible.
Here’s an example of good directory usage:
and here’s an example of bad usage:
Parameters in URLs
Parameters in URLs are often used to pass on data. As mentioned earlier, avoid using parameters in URLs as much as you can. These parameters don’t provide context to visitors or to Google.
Fragments in URLs to jump to a section
Fragments are used in URLs to be able to jump to a specific section within a page.
An example of a URL with a fragment: https://www.example.com/about/team/#king-kevin
# is the fragment and king-kevin is the fragment identifier in this example.
Relative URL? Absolute URL? What’s that?
Relative URLs are URLs that don’t reference the protocol, subdomain, and domain. For example: /about/team/
Absolute URLs are URLs that reference the full URL, including protocol, subdomain, and domain. For example: https://www.example.com/about/team/
When linking to pages within your own website, it’s recommended to use relative URLs, for two reasons:
When you change domain names, you don’t have to change all your links. They’ll keep working.
If you’re using a test environment with the same content as your production environment, relative URLs ensure the test environment is fully functioning.
Please note, however, that it’s not recommended to use relative URLs in canonical URLs.
URLs play an important role in your SEO performance. Choose URLs that are descriptive, readable, and short. Be consistent with the URLs on your website, and you’ll reap benefits.