Website success starts with SEO. Without getting good search engine rankings no one will find your website and see your content.
SEO consists of many areas and today I want to focus on the topic of URL optimization. If you are not optimizing your website URLs for search engines then you could be affecting your search rankings.
All webpages live at a unique address called a URL (Universal Resource Locator). You are free to create whatever URL structure you want for the pages in your website and URL optimization is the process of creating search friendly URLs. It’s true that now-a-days the URL is not as critical to SEO as it used to be, however it is still something that should be considered.
Below are 5 tips to help you with your URL optimization and to create the best URLs for your site.
5 Tip for Search Engine URL Optimization
#1 Use Keywords
Just as keywords are an important part of your pages main content, they also provide a valuable boost to your SEO when used correctly in your URL. You should use your keywords in your URL but beware of keyword stuffing.
#2 Make it Human Readable
We humans are visual creatures and this does not just mean when looking at images, it extends to what we read too. When faced with a choice of links to choose from, a URL which clearly shows what we searched for is much more likely to be clicked. It reassures the reader the page that is delivered is what they are looking for.
#3 Exclude Stop Words
There is no need to fill up the whole address bar with unnecessary stop words. Stop words are commonly used words such as the, is, at, which, and on. Search engines ignore these words and they wont serve any benefit towards SEO when included in your URL.
#4 Use Hyphens as Word Separators
Hyphens serve as a great separator for the words that go into your page URL. They do not require any encoding by the search engines, web servers or browsers and tend not to distract from the readability of the URL.
#5 Keep Them Short and to the Point
Your URLs show up in SERPs and other postings on social media. It’s important to keep them to a length that wont be truncated but still gets your message across.
There you have it, my top 5 tips for URL optimization for your website SEO. I want to finish this post with some pointers for things NOT to do when creating your URLs.
What Makes a Bad URL
#1 Don’t Create URLs Based on Date
I see this a lot in blogs, especially because it a standard option within WordPress under permalink settings. A URL which contains the year and month (or any date) can make your blog feel old and outdated. When viewing your URL in the SERP the user may be put off clicking if they see your URL containing a date which is years ago! What is worst is even if you update one of your existing posts with fresh content, the URL won’t change. It will still reflect the original posting date.
#2 Don’t Include Spaces
Adding spaces in your URL wont break your page but it will render very poorly when clicked (and even displayed in the SERP). A space will be encoded and will end up showing as a %20 which detracts from the readability of the URL.
#3 Don’t Include Special Characters
It’s best to keep special characters in your URL to a minimum. Personally I don’t use any special characters at all apart from hyphens (-). Special characters can be easily overlooked and mistyped. We want our content to be easily shareable so removing any possible barrier to that is always a good thing.
If you find yourself falling victim to one of the above offences don’t worry. Check out this post to learn how to update WordPress permalinks without breaking search engine rankings to update your existing WordPress pages and get on the right track. Don’t forget the above rules are applicable to all websites no matter what platform you are using, not just WordPress.
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Happy Blogging - Mathew