What is a URL?
One of the most basic SEO techniques is implementing search-friendly URLs. The URL structure of your site helps the search engines understand the contextual relevance of a given webpage.
A search engine-friendly URL structure can help search engines understand how useful or relevant a given webpage is to a given search query.
Elements of a URL
A well-structured URL actually consists of several important pieces of information. Consider the following example which is the complete path to the superdads:
- Http://: (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): This is the most popular application protocol used on the web. Other familiar types of application protocols include FTP and telnet.
- www.afrogreetings.com/: domain name of the website.
- GreetingCards/: This is the main directory for all of the greeting cards carried by the store.
- Birthdays: Subdirectory of the GreetingCards directory.
- superdad.htm: File name of the actual product.
This URL is effective is because it is short and easily readable by human beings and search crawlers alike. You can clearly follow the product hierarchy and tell what the page is about just by looking at the URL.
Compare the URL used in the above example to the following URL structure on the same site:
Unlike in the previous example, it is practically impossible to guess what the webpage is about, and the search engines will have no clue about what is contained on the webpage. The will make indexation difficult because the data provided by the URL is of little or no value.
Basic Rules for Working with URLs
- Add your most important, relevant keyword in the URLs.
- Separate the keywords with hyphens to make it easy for the search engine to see the individual keywords.
- Avoid long, complex URLs.
- Include the extension at the end if possible.
Adding too many keywords to your URL is a fast track to the over-optimization penalty. For example, if you’re a local business that offers plumbing and boiler maintenance services in Glendale, Los Angeles, trying to get all of your keywords including your city into the URL could trigger a Google penalty.
Use hyphens rather than Spaces
When using phrases with multiple words, the search engines recommend using hyphens rather than spaces or underscores to separate them. This will help readability. The search engines tend to interpret hyphens as word spaces. For example, the URL http://www.example.com/red-ferrari.html would be much more useful to the search engines than http://www.example.com/redferrari.html.
Note that the use of too many hyphens in a URL can come off as spammy and manipulative. For this reason, do not use any more hyphens than is required to make the URL readable. URLs should never be longer than 2,048 characters or Internet Explorer would have problems loading the page.