What is a URL?

The URL specifies the location of a text or website for users and search engines. It owes its identity to the Universal Resource Locator acronym. The layout of the URL is important for both users and search engines.

Benefits for users

A well-designed URL offers users (and search engines) an easy-to-understand hint as to what the landing page is all about. 

Even in situations where the title tag of the website is secret, a user-readable and semantically correct URL will provide a good indication of what the landing page is all about. It offers users an enriched experience by understanding what they can discover by clicking on the page.

Benefits for search engines

The URL is a limited but guarded ranking factor used by search engines to determine the relevance of a website to a search query. It gives weight to the absolute authority of the domain itself. In addition, the use of keywords in the URL may also serve as a ranking element. 

However, though having a URL that contains keywords will increase the popularity of a site’s quest, the URL itself does not generally influence the ability of the website to rank. Therefore, while you can consider using keywords, you should not necessarily build a URL to contain a keyword if it is not usable in other respects.

Best Practices for SEO-Friendly URLs

Here are several easy-to-use URL building activities that can help your site get the best out of Google search results and draw traffic to your pages:

Describe the content of the page

Ideally, the user can guess the content of the website exactly just by reading the URL, which must contain the exact word or expression that refers to the content.

Include keywords in the URL

It is worth designing each web page with a keyword, and that keyword should be included in the URL. It is also important to place the most appropriate keywords at the beginning of the URL, as the search engine spiders do not assign the terms as much priority at the end of the URL. 

You should prevent keyword harassment, however, as search engines consider keyword stuffing and penalize pages for this form of behavior.

Use lowercase letters in the URL

Search engines can decipher a letter case in a URL such that it can create duplicate URLs and thereby lose page level. 

If, for whatever reason, a URL is generated with a capital letter, you can show the desired URL by redirecting it to 301. And if this is not necessary, use a canonical tag to denote a canonical URL.

Create short URLs

The URL should be as clear and concise as possible, as it is easier to read and type a short URL. In comparison, the less words it includes, the more value each word would obtain in the search engine. Many related URL terms can be used as keyword stuffing and triggering a decline in search rankings.

Add hyphens to separate words

Using hyphens to divide terms into URL phrases is important to both user readability and search engine optimization. Google advises using hyphens instead of underscores in URLs, because hyphens are viewed as spaces between words, whereas words linked by underscores are considered to be one phrase.

Let’s look at an example:

The following will be an improved URL: https://example.info/blog/url-struct-tips 

However, this one is not optimized: https://example.info/blog/url structure tips 

Build a static URL 

It’s best to use static URLs that can’t be modified. These are URLs that remain constant every time the page is loaded. Try to eliminate redundant parameters (such as ‘?’ or ‘&’) that are common for complex URLs. 

The static URL for both the user and the search engines is easier to read. This doesn’t mean that you can’t apply external parameters to the URLs that would be released on social networks to better track marketing info, but you should aim to encode dynamic URLs specifically on the web.

Be careful with sub-domains

Search engines have the ability to consider a subdomain as a distinct entity from the main domain that can influence certain facets of SEO, including connection building and trust value. But if there’s no good justification to use a sub-domain, it’s better to use sub-folders instead. 

Centered on the above, this is an optimized URL: https://www.example.com/element 

But not the following: https://element.example.com 

Limit directories to the URL structure

The URL does not contain any unused folders. It is better to use only the amount of folders and characters required for the layout of the URL. Know, the flatter the structure of the site, the better it is.
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