Using a Search Friendly URL is one of the many search engine optimization techniques. Many of the websites that are using incorrect or suboptimal URLs get low indexing by the Google crawlers and thereby reduce the site ranking.
Let us see how a good URL structure can help us get a high ranking. First of all, we will see the elements that make up a URL. A URL is actually comprised of several important pieces of information.
E.g – http://example.com/men/t-shirt
The above URL consists of four parts –
- HTTPS:// – This is the widely used HyperText Transfer application protocol on the World Wide Web.
- example.com – It’s the Domain name of the Website.
- men – It’s the Subdirectory of the file.
- t-shirt – It’s the File name of the requested resource.
Basically, there are three elements of a URL that we can customize – The Domain name, the Sub Directories, and the Filenames. Now let us see how these elements can be optimized.
Domain Name – A good domain name is always easy to remember. Always make it as short as possible, preferably one or two words. This is not going to increase your ranking but will be easier for the visitors to remember.
Domain Extension – Most popular the domain extension is the .com extension. It’s widely used amongst the other domain names that are available.
Sub Directories – We should take a look at the depth and width of these folders.
It is the number of sub-folders that are found in a sub-domain. These are visible on the breadcrumbs of an e-commerce website and may appear as shown below –
The page with the t-shirt is two levels deep. In this case, the correct Url structure for a product in this directory will be –
Using keywords for your subfolder’s names(men) is much better than using generic names like catgegory76. It serves as a navigational tool for the users and the search engines are also able to index your website correctly.
These pages also show up in the analytics, making interpretation of the data much easier. It’s always best to keep the pages less than three folders deep.
Width – It’s the number of pages in a category. The website from the above example
It’s the number of pages in a category. The website from the above example might offer clothing for men which may include different styles – round neck, v neck, and stretchable.
In this case, the width of the category page t-shirt is three pages – round neck, v neck, and stretchable. You can have any number of pages and this will never have any effect on your ranking unless you are using a duplicate page.
Subdomain or Subfolder –
What should we use – a subdomain or a subfolder?
Subdomains are often seen by Google as separate domains, this means that you will have to do the SEO thing twice for the subdomains.
However, if you have several non-related products, it will be a good idea to use the subdomains. Google uses the same approach for maps(maps.google.com), news(news.google.com), etc.
The same technique can be used for the local websites(spain.example.com, germany.example.com).
Page Names –
Changing the page name is far easier than changing the domain name, domain extension, or subfolder structure name. A good page is all about usability and keywords. let’s see an example to demonstrate this –
Compare both the URLs, which one do you prefer?
It is clearly seen in the above example that the second URL will be preferred. It shows the product page for the Zara casual shirt. If we are looking at the first URL it certainly does not provide any information about the content of the page.
Search engines have the same problem. If they only look at the URL, they don’t know what the page is about. That’s why it’s a good idea to implement keywords. In the search results, these keywords will show up in bold making it easier for users to identify the relevant pages.
Always use hyphens in the URLs as it’s a recommended way to split the keywords. Other separators like the +(plus sign) and _(underscores) should be avoided. The URL http://example.com/zara-casual-shirt is more useful than the http://example.com/zaracasualshirt.
Lastly, to give your site a considerable boost you should start using a good URL structure. Always use keywords instead of random words and numbers. Never make your subfolders too deep and use them over subdomains(unless you have two non-related products or services).
If you want to split words always use hyphens in your URLs instead of underscores or plus-signs. For the dynamic URLs, Google can always read and index them.