The 10 best tips for structuring URLs in 2016Alastair Brian
The URL of a website is like a business card that you leave at different virtual forums like blog commenting, forum postings, business listings, social media, social bookmarking and other promotional activities. The few words in the URL represent the entire business to the reader, and that’s why it needs to be structured in a familiar, easy-to-read and understandable manner.
To help webmasters easily structure URLS for better readability, we are giving away some amazing tips below.
- Use simple language
A great majority of the cyber population is not qualified enough to understand the technical terms, jargon and complex theories that relate to your business. So, it is suggested to replace difficult words with simple ones to communicate the message in a plain language to the end user.
- Remove IDs and special characters
The default URL of most web pages includes an auto-generated ID or special characters, which makes it difficult to read. Take the example of PrestaShop where the URL includes a serial number which can be disturbing for the audience as well as the search bot to scan the link address. These IDs and special characters can be removed manually as well as with a plugin like PrestaShop search friendly URL.
- Avoid duplicate links
Two or more links that take customers to a single page may be perceived negatively by search engines. The links may be penalised for containing plagiarised content, which may reduce the rankings and traffic as well. Remove these multiple URLs with the help of canonical tags.
- Add primary keywords
Expert marketers recommend the use of primary business keywords in URLs so that the targeted users quickly get an idea about the business. To make your potential customers understand the kind of products and services you offer, inject the keywords in the web link after the domain name to make them prominent in search engine results.
- Customise the titles with URLs
In the search engine snippet, the page title appears right above the URL. The online users read the title, compare it with the link address, and decide to click if it matches. To have a credible and trustworthy presence, achieve consistency in the page title, URL, and meta description. Create a title that includes the keywords or business name which are also included in the page address.
- Skip stop words
The search engine skips stop words such as or, and, but, of, a, the, etc. while crawling a web address. If the name of your product or title of a blog post includes these words, remove them from the URL to make it more searchable. Although this is debatable as some of the bloggers argue that skipping stop words may make the title in the URL confusing, you can alter it in a way that communicates the meaning to the search engine as well as a human.
- Prefer fewer folders
Folders are often added for product categories, subcategories and a variety of topics, all of which elongate the link structure. For instance, this link www.example.com/gadgets/mobiles/huawie/p8/lite/white.html is all about a single product but includes so many attributes that it creates hurdles for a layman to remember the link. It gives them the impression that the store is deeply structured and finding things is hard there. For this reason, it is recommended to use fewer folders.
- Use word separators
A combined name of product or blog post is difficult to read. For example, www.example.com/birthdaycards, /babygarments/, /cyclingaccessories/, or /swimmingsuits/ does not make sense. To make it easy for customers to read these product names, use hyphens between them. For instance, www.example.com/birthday-cards, /baby-garments/, /cycling-accessories/, or /swimming-suits/.
Programmers also use the underscore sign as a word separator, but that is not liked by most marketers as it disappears when a URL in anchored like this one www.example.com/birthday cards
- Set redirections
Redirection is a solution to preventing a loss that is expected after modifying the URL structure so that the users from the old link can easily get to know about the change and reach the new destination. If you have recently migrated to another web application or switched to a user-friendly domain, you will have to set redirections for the older links to achieve the traffic and search engine rankings.
Setting redirection to different internal links to increase page impressions is a malpractice and needs to be stopped right away because it will discourage users from visiting again.
- Combine the WWW with non-WWW
Google deals these two versions of your website separately, which may result in duplication or a decline in link juice and rankings. Set redirection from non-www to the www version of your website or select one of them as a preferred URL in the webmaster settings.
Online businesses can continue making profits as long as they meet customer needs and abide by the rules of search engines. Structuring URLs is also one of the core factors in creating ease and comfort for the end consumer to know about your business. We hope the above tips will prove helpful for your venture. Given below is the presentation of these tips in a colorful infographic;
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)