The URL of a specific web page on your site is a very important factor when it comes to search engine optimization. It might not be the most important, but it does have the critical job of providing search engines with information about what the page is all about. This can play a huge role in how the page will be ranked, and for which keywords.
We’ve listed below what we believe to be 8 key points you should keep in mind when naming your urls:
1. Make It Obvious & Structure It Right
Would you rather see a page named “article-15.html” or a page named “green-apples.html”? You definitely want your url file name to include the most obvious and relevant words associated with the information on the page – it not only helps a search engine decipher the purpose of the page but also makes it reader friendly.
So if you were selling apples for example, you would have three sections: green, red and specialty. Then the individual types of apples would each get their own page leading to URLs that looked like this:
This way it’s very clear what each page is about. They’re simple, to the point, clearly identify the page’s purpose to the search engines and visitors, and are of course, easy to remember if they need to be guessed at some point. Obviously it also helps the visitor to quickly judge whether they are on the right page or not.
2. Think of the Search Display
Another very important point about URL naming is that this string is exactly what the visitor sees once they make their search on Google or any other search engine. In essence, these URL strings work as copy to lure in searchers when they rank, so the clearer and more specific they are, the more clicks they will attract – and from the right type of searcher too. This is exactly what you want. Also to note, Google highlights the search words in the url if they’re present and so that only makes your url stand out a bit more. Look at the example image below:
From the example image above, a search for “green apples” on Google resulted in not only the highlighting of the words ‘green apple’ in the Title and Description but also in the URL since it was present there. So this can help to a certain extent and should be thought of when naming your URLs.
3. Make your Dynamic URLs look Static
Instead of having your web page url named dynamically like: http://www.domain.com/page.php?product_type=apple&detail=green&name=grannysmith, you would rather have it named http://www.domain.com/green-apples/grannysmith.html because not only does it make it reader friendly but also makes things easier for the search engines to track.
A static url indicates the page is there to last and is contrary to a dynamically generated url which looks and feels like a temporary page generated on the fly. More importantly, static URLs allow visitors to remember your links, easily bookmark / link to them and send them all over the web. You need as much of this as possible, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot.
4. Lose The Dates
Don’t bother including dates in your URLs. They just make the age of your posts obvious, dilute the value of your included keywords and make them infinitely harder to remember.
5. Hyphens Rule
Using hyphens as separators between the keywords in your URLs has become a standard that everyone sticks to. There really is no reason to use something else like an underscore either. Hyphens just make it easy to guess a URL if need be so we advise sticking to this convention as well.
6. Keep Them Short
If you can keep the entire URL name to under four or five words that would be ideal, but of course that’s not always possible. The less words you use, the more relevance is given to each keyword and that’s a good thing.
So if you had a URL like this:
Why not cut the unnecessary words and keep just the bare essentials like this:
It’s now only five words long but still includes all the critical keywords to tell search engines and readers what the page is about – just without all the fluff.
7. Stack Up Front
When possible, place the most important keywords near the front of the URL. It’s believed that the first few words are given more validity for rankings than the later ones. This makes some sense for readers too, so it definitely won’t hurt.
None of these rules are set in stone and they all need to come together in harmony to work best. There is no reason to make your URL unreadable just to get as many keywords in as possible, or to make them so short that they lose their meaning.
As with all things, some common sense is needed here, so use your best judgment when sprinkling these tips into your URLs and you’ll be just fine.