Improve SEO with User-friendly URLs

June 17, 2015 Helmut Berie

There is a compelling correlation between well-ranking webpages and them having user friendly URLs. Therefore, improving your site’s URLs is one of many simple ways you can optimize your SEO. Just follow these guidelines:

Identify the Top Keywords to Use – In the actual URL, use keywords that summarize the topic and content of the page. These are often the same keywords as used in the page titles. Making URLs SEO-friendly starts with the discipline of creating quality content where each page is focused on one main topic that can be described in 1-3 words.

Keep the URL Short – Use a few keywords only to keep the URL as short as possible. Any keyword required to state the page topic should be in the URL but nothing else. This not only helps in SEO, but also makes it easy for users to copy and paste or even remember the URL.

Use Real Words – Avoid use of numbers, special characters (with the exception of hyphens, which are recommended to separate words) or made-up words – unless they are a key component of your brand. Only use words that someone might search for. Try to stay clear of URL query strings (URL part following a “?” towards the end of the URL) entirely.

Remove Articles – Take out unnecessary words like “the,” “and” and “an.”

Use Hyphens – A simple hyphen is the best way to separate words; they’re found to be easier to use and to read than an underline mark, period or white space between words.

Use a Consistent Case – Be consistent in whether you use lowercase, uppercase or camelcase words in your URLs. Whichever you choose, follow the same style for all.

Avoid Canonicalization Issues – These issues can arise when multiple URLs direct to the same webpage. Most home pages, for example, can be called up by using any of the following structures:

  • http://sitename.com
  • http://www.sitename.com
  • http://www.sitename.com/index.php
  • http://www.sitename.com/index.htm
  • http://www.sitename.com/index.html

However, you want to choose one preferred URL for each page and have the others use a canonical tag. Otherwise, your page authority for these pages can diminish, which negatively impacts your SEO. In addition, you are wasting crawl capacity that might prevent some pages from getting crawled.

Generally speaking, canonicalization issues are considered bad website design, and once they are spotted by Internet search engine bots, it will negatively impact the rankings of the entire site. It is common for duplicate content issues to be canonicalization issues in disguise. If content moves, you should set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the current page. By grouping the duplicate pages together in this way, their combined ranking signals work together for better overall search engine ranking.

We will continue with this blog series on Improving Your E-commerce SEO. Please subscribe to our blog to ensure you are informed about new posts. Also, download our free white paper, “How to Get the SEO-driven Revenue You’re Missing” for more best practices on improving your e-commerce site.

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