15 SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs
The structuring of URLs and domain names is critical to the success of SEO. There are many practices and structures that can be used, but not all at the same time. The trick is to find the ones that work best for your particular campaign. Search engines have evolved, and despite their ability to handle many technical challenges, it is always best to keep things as simple as possible for both them and users.
1. Stick to single domain and sub domain
Using a different sub domain yields different outcomes for different people. Some report success when they move their content there, while others lose traffic. It’s all good if it works for you. But it’s always best to have one sub and root domain if you want to improve content performance.
2. Think of the humans
A URL that is easy for people to read is likely to perform better. Every part of your URL doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be easily decipherable.
3. Keyword URLS still have a place
Using targeted keywords for your URLs still has positive outcomes for a number of reasons. It makes backlinking a lot easier, URLs can be used as anchor texts, and users are more likely to click to your site when the keywords in the URL show up in search results.
4. Canonicolize URLs that serve similar content.
You can do this using 301 redirect or a rel=canonical. Duplicate content isn’t a mortal sin until it is done on a very large scale.
5. Avoid dynamic parameters
Having any more than two URL parameters is discouraged. There are tools you can use to rewrite any additional ones. Long URLs have been shown to perform worse than shorter ones that clearly define what they are about.
6. Shorter is Better
Shorter URLs are better in many ways. Users are able to copy and share them more easily. If you have URLs that have more than 100 characters, you need to revise them.
7. URLs and titles should match whenever possible
They don’t have to match word for word, but the similarity between the two should be obvious. This makes it easier to attract a user to a page and keep them there when they discover what exactly they expected.
8. You need not use stop words
Words such as “and”, “or”, “but”, “of”, and “the” do not have to appear in the URL. Exempting them helps your URLs stay shorter, and more readable.
9. Mind your punctuation characters
Some text characters make URLs harder to read, and they might compromise compatibility with some browsers or crawlers. It is best to control them, or remove them altogether,
10. Limit the number of redirections
It might be necessary to take a user to URL A, then URL B. But further than that and trouble begins. Longer redirection strings slow down both browsers and users. Search engines too recommend against it.
11. Have fewer folders
Folders don’t hurt performance, but it makes browsers and users perceive your site as having more depth. It additionally complicates the process of editing the URL strings.
12. Use hashes correctly
Hashes are used to redirect to a specific part of a page. They should only serve this purpose, and not instead show unique content on different pages.
13. Case sensitivity is important
Separate cases can be interpreted differently, depending on the servers you are using. Ideally, URLs that use the wrong case should redirect to the right one.
14. Use hyphens and underscores to separate words
Browsers now tolerate underscores and hyphens and you should use them instead of spaces, which render poorly.
15. Keyword stuffing is just bad
This unnecessary repetition comes off as spammy and hurts your Google and Bing rankings.