What’s the Best URL Structure for SEO

URLs are the first thing people read when they want to type a web address into the browser. Proper URLs will tell the user something about the webpage. They will tell a person what the page is about so they should be optimised, structured properly, readable and as simple as possible. They will improve user experience, so they should be given proper attention. Especially if you’re working on your SEO efforts, you should think about the role URLs have in search engine optimisation.

URL in a nutshell

URL is an acronym for Uniforms Resource Locator. Since you probably won’t remember what it stands for, we’ll give you the simplest definition. URL is the string of words that are typed into the browser when you want to access a website. So, URL is a technical term for the website address. If you type the right URL, you will get access to that web address. If you type the wrong URL or make mistakes, you won’t reach the web address you need.

URL structure explained

URL structure consists of a string of elements. The way the URL is structured is important for SEO and user experience because users can get basic information from a URL structure. Most commonly, a URL structure consists of a:

  1. Protocol – HTTPS
  2. Subdomain – www
  3. Root domain – for example, housepainting
  4. TLD – .com
  5. Slug – category
  6. Article permalink

The example URL would be https://www.housepainting.com/blog/when-to-paint-your-house

Do all websites have to have the same structure?

First and foremost, URL structures across website domains can be different. The structure is defined by the needs of a website and the type of services they offer. For example, if a website has a service that is booked online, they will have book-us within the URL structure. If another website has a contact us option, they will have a contact-us, instead of a book-us. [1] 

What is the connection between URL and search engine optimisation?

URLs can be optimised to achieve the best SEO results, just like any other aspect of the website. Here’s a list of things you have to implement to ensure your URLs are in line with SEO practices.

Ensure URL is readable

URL has to be readable by those who are trying to access it. The best practice to ensure readability is to eliminate any unnecessary words. These words are also known as stop words. The following words can be left out of the URL structure – and, a, of, the, an, and other. Even though these words contribute to the grammatical aspect of a sentence, a URL can be read without them. Search engines don’t really pay any attention to them, so whenever you can, aim to keep URLs short.

Implement keywords in the URL structure

If you want to rank as high as possible on the search engine results pages, you need to utilise the right keywords in your content, on-page elements and URL structure. If you need help with keyword research and how to implement relevant keywords in your URL structure, find a professional SEO agency. Proper keyword research is at the core of every SEO strategy, so get proper help so your SEO efforts will pay off in the long run.

URL should make sense

The URL should make sense to both people and crawlers. Refrain from using too many keywords within the URL structure. Not only is this keyword stuffing, but it also makes the URL unreadable. Make sure your URLs make sense.

Lowercase letters

The best practice is to use all lowercase in your URL structure. This will ensure that you don’t make a mistake because URLs are case-sensitive beyond the domain name. Anything that is added to the URL structure after the domain name can be read as case-sensitive. This means that unless the URL is typed as case-sensitive, people will be taken to a page that doesn’t exist. To avoid this, stick to lowercase letters.

Migrate your website to an HTTPS

Websites with a secure protocol, HTTPS, are viewed as more secure and trustworthy. If yu haven’t migrated your website to a secure protocol, it’s high time to make this transition. This is viewed as a valuable ranking signal so don’t miss out on this.

If you need to separate words, use hyphens

If you need to separate words in your URL structure, stick to hyphens. Hyphens are the only characters that are viewed as separators. Anything else can ruin your URL structure, making it illegible.

Don’t use any special characters

Any special characters like a dollar signs, percentage signs, tilde and others shouldn’t be used in the URL structure. Anything that deviates from the list of safe characters should be avoided because it poses a risk. Also, submit an XML sitemap to Google to ensure Google crawlers can easily crawl your website.

Keep your website structure simple – a domain and a subdomain

If you want to keep your website structure neat, ensure there isn’t an endless string of subdomains. A subdomain within a subdomain won’t improve your rankings. If, for any reason, you need to have a subdomain, stick to one root domain and one subdomain.

Implement canonical tags

Canonical tags are useful if you have web pages with similar content or intent. You can easily determine which one of these pages has more value and which one you want to rank for. Other pages should be then canonicalised to show google that you want to rank for the master page, not the ones similar to the master page.

Don’t use too many redirects

While redirects are useful, because you don’t want people to end up on a page that is 404, you need to be smart with them. Implement redirects where they are needed, but don’t overdo them. These redirects cause the loss of a crawl budget so you should be smart and implement 301 logically.

You’ve probably noticed a URL or two on your website that needs some improvement while you were reading this article. Even if there’s more than just one URL to optimise, we’ve given you every direction you need to ensure your URL structures are SEO friendly.

Criss Roman