We have written about URL best practices and URL guidelines in the past, but we thought that it would be a good time to remind everyone out there about some URL best practices. I am amazed at the various sites out there including some large brands who have yet to address issues with their URL structure. Perhaps part of the reason for this is that it is a big job to transform the URL structure and hierarchy of your site, especially if you are placing well in the search engines for your important key phrases.
The Importance of Search Engine Friendly URLS
Having clean and search engine friendly URLs can be the difference as to why one site places better in the search results than another. Traditionally the search engines have shown a preference for static appearing URLs that have limited parameters and are short in nature. Shorter, cleaner URLs tend to resonate better with the user as well.
URLs help users navigate the website when they reflect the overall site information architecture. Search engine friendly URLs are extremely important in the SEO success of your website. Effective URLS:
15 Reminders for URL Best Practices
- Improve customer site experience with a consistent approach for domain name formats to improve site usability.
- Make it easier for the search engines to crawl, index and rank your site’s content.
If your SEO team or in-house SEO's are commenting on the need to address your URLs, you should listen. While cleaning up your URL structure may not be easy and take careful planning and resources, the outcome can provide tremendous benefit from and SEO perspective. Why limit your site when you shouldn't have to with a clean URL structure?
- Plan a logical site hierarchy for your site
- Keep important content as close to the root folder as possible; no more than three folders deep.
- Be consistent with URLs
- Incorporate relevant keywords into URLs where possible
- Use hyphens as word separators
- Strive to keep URLs short – they will be remembered more
- Create static URLs as opposed to long dynamic URLs – as the search engines still have an easier time following static URLs
- Any time a URL needs to be redirected, make use of a permanent 301 redirect
- Avoid having a page redirect multiple times
- Keep the use of URL redirection to a minimum
- If URLs are long and dynamic consider using URL re-writing to make the URLs cleaner (there are various URL rewriting tools that can be used)
- Avoid duplicate content with dynamically driven pages/URLs
- URLs should be in lower case throughout
- Avoid creating file names/URLs with characters which may be reserved for special use or be unsafe, e.g. # $ %.
- Avoid extensive use of session IDs as session variables can cause the same page to appear with constantly changing URLs. This runs the risk of getting pages flagged or even penalized for duplicate content
Labels: URL best practices, URL guidelines, URL structure