5 Steps to Creating Google Friendly URLs
5 Steps to Creating Google Friendly URLs
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator), is the web address of resources such as web pages, images and files on the Internet.
For example, the URL of the home page of the iASP Central website is http://www.iaspcentral.com while the URL of the Blog section of the iASP Central website is: http://www.iaspcentral.com/Home/blog.aspx.
Search Engines like Google "crawl" the Internet and index all of the URLs they can find in a directory, that we then use to search for things on the Internet.
Like any listing in a phone book or an address book, the easier the number or address is to use, the more favourable the number/address is. Search engine indexes are no different.
So what steps can you take to create better URLs for your website?
Make URLs Meaningful
The more meaningful a URL is, the more useful it is around the Internet, and you create meaning by using keywords.
For example - the URL http://www.example.com.au/shop.html?pid=123&catid=456&anid=789 versus the URL http://www.example.com.au/shop.html?pid=cotton-tee-red&catid=t-shirts&anid=discounted-items.
Even though the two URLs are almost identical, the second URL uses keywords related to the page content instead of ID numbers.
The use of keywords is an advantage for two reasons:
- It gives people a better idea of what to expect at the end of a link after reading the URL, which also makes the URL better for sharing.
- It adds weight to search engine rankings.
Avoid "stuffing" your URLs with keywords however, as not only does it unnecessarily increase the length of your URLs, the practice of keyword stuffing is frowned upon.
Keep them Short
Like addresses and phone numbers, the shorter you can make a URL, the better.
While the URL www.example.com.au/shop/products/electronics/remote-controlled/helicopters/commando-copter-2.html is a meaningful URL, and includes useful keywords, the length of the URL will become a burden.
Just like the benefits of using keywords, shorter URLs make for easier reading and easier sharing, particularly on social media platforms with character limits such as Twitter.
Furthermore, tests by some SEO specialists have shown that shorter URLs also improve the direct traffic to a website1.
Use Hyphens Between Words
There are many ways to handle multiple words in a URL. YouCouldJoinThemAltogether, but that just makes it look like one long word, which is not useful for search engines.
Or_you_could_use_underscores, but best practice is to-use-hyphens-to-separate-words.
The reason for this is Google. Actually, the real reason is the use of the underscore in programming, but Google (and now most search engines) have made this part of the way they index numbers and punctuation.
Whatever the reason is, it has become universally accepted that hyphens should be used to separate words in URLs.
Make URLs Lower Case
Consider the URL www.example.com.au/about-us.html versus the URL www.example.com.au/ABOUT-US.html.
Both URLs should point to the same page, but there is a very good reason for using lower case URLs - some web servers are case sensitive, meaning that about-us.html and ABOUT-US.html are interpreted as two different addresses.
When a search engine crawls a URL, it will try both versions of the address and dependent on the type of web server hosting the website, it will index the results differently.
You could either end up with a search engine resolving the two versions of the same URL as being two different pages, or, the search engine will resolve one version and see the other version as a dead page.
In either case, the result is poorer Search Engine rankings that what could otherwise be achieved by using lower case URLs.
Use HTTPS URLs
In mid-2014, Google announced that a small Search Ranking boost would be given to HTTPS URLs. HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). Using HTTPS rather than HTTP allows web browsers and web servers to communicate to each other with an added layer of security and encryption.
While recent tests by various Search Ranking professionals are showing that, at present, the benefit received by migrating to HTTPS URLS is so low as to barely be worth the effort, small differences can have a big impact so it is still worth considering the switch if you are able to - at the very least you will be providing extra security for your website visitors, and your website will already be in line to receive the ranking boost if and when Google does decide to give HTTPS URLs more weight in their rankings.
After almost 20 years providing content management systems we understand
that website administrators generally don't know the first thing about
page URL's, and that's why the iASP™ content management system
takes care of most of the considerations above automatically.
If your current solution does not support this level of control please contact us to arrange a no obligation demonstration of the iASP™ platform.
While your page URLs may not be the number one priority when working on your website, a few simple considerations can make a huge difference to Search Rankings.
- Does URL Structure Even Matter? A Data Driven Answer
- 15 SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs
- Keep a simple URL structure
- Dashes vs. underscores
- Never Use Capital Letters in URLs
- Report: HTTPS URLs Have No Discernible Ranking Benefit In Google Currently
How do you structure your website URLs? Discuss your URL strategy with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.