In this post we’ll take a look at the importance of standardizing your site’s URLs, as well as ensuring they are short and readable. These are two crucial – and simple – steps to boosting your site’s search engine optimization.
The importance of URL structure
URLs are commonly called web addresses. For example, https://www.themepr.com/blog is the URL, or web address, where this blog appears.
Think of your site’s URLs as the cornerstones or building blocks of search engine optimizations, as well as an important aspect of your overall content marketing plan. A site with a strong foundation of brief, coherent and organized URLs will appear higher in search engine rankings. Here’s why:
If you can easily digest the URLs on your site, it stands to reason that search engines also will have an easier time crawling them. URLs also typically remain static — no matter how many times you or your team tweaks, refreshes or adds new copy to your site’s web pages, the URLs usually remain the same. That’s why it’s important that you structure the hierarchy of your site’s URLs with an eye toward cohesiveness and brevity.
3 key URL considerations
Follow these three tips to create an effective URL structure across your site.
1. Keep it simple.
Keep URLs short and simple so it’s easier for users and customers to remember and type them into their browser address bar when driving to your site. This is especially important if you include key URLS on marketing collateral or on business cards.
Never use gunk or long strings of numbers.
Not as good (and the actual URL of this story): www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000915070/article/eagles-offer-teambuilding-lessons-key-super-bowl-takeaways
One URL could easily be verbally passed to a friend – “Hey, check out this story,” while the other is far too difficult to remember. However, it’s important to note that in the case of the NFL story, since there’s a tremendous volume of content being generated by the Associated Press each story needs specific identifiers or tags (0ap3000000915070). This likely isn’t the case with most sites. Simplify.
2. Punctuation. Use hyphens to separate words.
Example: www.storyamplify.com/blog/importance-url-structure is much better for Googlebot than www.storyamplify.com/blog/importanceurlstructure because it requires less bandwidth to fully index the content than the unpunctuated (and more difficult to digest) URL structure.
Google recommends using only hyphens and not underscores for URLs. Never use any other form of punctuation (brackets, quotes, parenthesis, etc.) in URL structures.
3. Stick with lowercase.
Capital letters can confuse users when typing URLs into their browser address bars. Lowercase is preferred, even with company names and proper nouns that typically require punctuation. This also prevents users from accidentally capitalizing a character and thus failing to enter a proper address.
Example: www.storyamplify.com/blog/CAse-Sensitive-URLs. The “A” here shouldn’t be capitalized, nor should URL, even though that’s how it’s used in print.
It’s also important to note that Windows and Linux servers handle capitalization very differently. Windows serves aren’t case sensitive, while Linux servers are. Users who fail to properly enter capitalization on a Linux server will get a 404 page not found error.
None of the steps detailed here are very technical, which means you likely don’t have to engage the services of a web designer to create or revamp your site’s URL structures. When creating new URLs, be disciplined and apply common sense to naming structures. Putting in the time to create clear and detailed URLs organically gives your site an SEO boost, increases performance and average time on page, and reduces bounce rate for users.