Well thought out URL structures will enhance your rankings and increase your visitors. It’s important to keep things organised and simple for your visitors. In doing so, you’ll do some good for your SEO.
Content Management Systems such as WordPress will often sort a lot of this out for you if you have it configured correctly but it’s still something you want to be aware of and act on it if need be.
So what to look out for in your URL Structure?
www or non-www URLs
Some websites use www, and some don’t. And it doesn’t really matter which one you decide to go for—just make sure that you pick one and stick with it. Having multiple options is confusing to both visitors and search engines. You should redirect one to the other by using a 301 redirect. The redirect will mean your site only has one real URL and help it be indexed properly, whilst restoring a lot of the link value. Search engines will see your site as having duplicate content if you can access your site through multiple URLs.
Length of URLs and the use of Dashes
Ideally you should always keep your URLs under 5 words separated by dashes. The last thing you want is a stupidly long URL like
/this-is-my-blog/what-i-write-about-all-day/. What would be much better for visitors and search engines would be
/blog/what-i-write-about/. The use of dashes helps visitors read what the content is about before they even click the link.
It’s also quite easy to quickly work up really long URLs, especially in online shops. You might have /product/new/large/pink/socks/men/, where as something as simple as
/products/pink-socks/ would be better. Not only will this help search engines, but it’ll help your visitors understand your site architecture.
Descriptive and Relevant URLs
The URL should have keywords inside it, relating to what the post or page is about. You need to be careful though, don’t overdo it. It should always be human readable. A URL such as
/index.php?p=27329dab/ is no use, where as a URL such as
/wind-turbines/ is much more efficient. It goes without saying that the URL should be relevant to what the content is about. If the URL mentions Wind Turbines the page should be about Wind Turbines, not a video of your nan’s flying cat.
Stick to Lowercase
Unlike your domain names, URLs are often case sensitive. Randomly adding in uppercase characters to your URLs can have devastating effects. Especially when people are entering their favourite URL into their web browser.
Check the Spelling!
You might think it goes without saying, but in some Content Management Systems if you edit and change the Title and regenerate the URL sometimes it can change your URL to something you wouldn’t expect - or generate it before you’ve finished setting up the page. Or of course you could just have a typo in there somewhere. Google, and visitors will see
/microwave-vans/ differently to
/microwave-ovans/! Always check your URLs for spelling mistakes.