When refining your website for the search engines, you’ll want to ensure its search engine optimization (SEO) is in good form. Your URLs are part of your technical SEO, and they’re important to get right — search engine bots will analyze your URLs to understand your site’s structure and content, helping it to recommend your site to the right users.
To ensure your URLs are in tip-top shape, consider these tips:
1. Use Subdirectories
It’s unusual for websites to have such specific information that it’s only confined to one root directory. For example, a website may contain its landing page and various other pages — like its blog, about us, and privacy notice. Furthermore, e-commerce stores may categorize their products into multiple types, like a sportswear store dividing its products among men, women, and children.
Search engines prefer sites that organize their content into subdirectories. For example, a site like lawyersforyou.com would have a subdirectory for its blog that appears as lawyersforyou.com/blog.
2. But Don’t Overuse Subdirectories
On the other hand, it’s important not to go overboard and create too many subdirectories. This can create the illusion that your website has lots of depth when it may not. It also makes your URL unwieldy and difficult to read, harming the user experience.
For example, a site with just twenty individual blogs probably has no use for five different subfolders. A single subfolder (/blog) is appropriate unless the site grows considerably.
As an example, this URL has seven folders:
But the website could easily shorten the link to just four folders with the following link:
3. Include Dates in Your URL
There are many factors that search engines consider when deciding where to rank your page. One factor is freshness — newer content from websites with decent domain scores will typically rank higher than out-of-date content. For example, if you’re looking for the most recent digital marketing trends, an article from 2007 probably won’t help you as much as something from 2023.
You can highlight the newness of your content by incorporating dates into your URLs. A date tells Google how old your article is, and they’ll list it higher in the rankings if they believe it will help people. One example of a URL that uses a proper date structure is this one. As you see, the link prominently includes the date of its publishing.
4. Ensure People Can Read Your URLs
Another factor to consider is your URL’s readability. People should be able to glance at your URL and understand what the page will likely discuss. For this reason, you’ll want to avoid using characters and symbols that don’t pertain to the article’s content.
For example, a URL like thedomain.com/fresh-looks-for-spring is self-explanatory. This content clearly highlights spring clothing trends to be aware of when updating your wardrobe. However, if the URL is thedomain.com/fresh-gyuwevdfg-sewr8973-dg03, you won’t know what to expect. For all your user knows, they could be clicking on a spam link.
So instead of using symbols and unreadable characters, ensure that someone understands what you plan to share with them by providing a clear URL.
5. Don’t Forget Keywords
While the days of keyword stuffing are gone, that doesn’t mean you should ignore keywords in your URLs. If you’re trying to rank your content based on keywords, there’s no reason not to include them in your URL. As long as the URL isn’t overly spammy, search engines will view the keyword as yet another reason to direct someone to your website.
For instance, if you’re trying to rank for the keywords “money tips,” include that term in your URL if it’s relevant. For example, you might use a URL that looks like this: thedomain.com/blog/money-tips-for-students.
On the other hand, search engines would penalize a website that attempts to overuse a keyword. So a URL such as thedomain.com/blog/money-tips/money-tips-for-students/2023-money-tips would only hurt your ranking.
6. Keep Your URLs Short
Ideally, you’ll want to keep your URLs under 60 characters long. Anything over that length is likely unnecessary. You should definitely rewrite URLs that approach 100 characters.
Short URLs are favorable because they’re easy to remember. They’re also easy to scan by search engine bots, which are more likely to rank your page higher if they understand what your content relates to.
For instance, consider the following URL: thedomain.com/helicopter-landing-pads. It’s pretty clear that this content will discuss helicopter landing pads in some form.
However, an extended URL like thedomain.com/helicopter-landing-pads-best-choices-and-ideal-for-models-robinson-r44-and-hughes-oh-6-cayuse is not only too long — it’s completely nonsensical.
Search engine bots will usually penalize a page’s ranking if it has an overly lengthy URL, and they might have difficulty understanding what the content relates to.
URLs Are Important to SEO
While many factors impact a site’s SEO, you can’t afford to ignore your URLs. Remember to adhere to these tips for the best results!