2016: SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs

Written by: Jason Bayless | May 02, 2016

Many people believe that the most important keyword vehicle for a website to the major search engines is the title tag. Big tags are very important, of course, but the most important signal that you can send to the major search engines as to the direction of your site is in your URL! Yes, the URL is the first signal that Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex look for when they crawl a website. The tags and all of the site content follow after that.

With this in mind, you have a great opportunity to help your site get indexed more quickly by using your URL as a keyword vehicle properly. You can definitely place a modification of your keywords directly into your URL; however, it must be done in a certain way. Here are some of the things that you should keep in mind as you direct your keywords into your URL.

The Search Engine Optimization Friendly URL

Some of the same techniques that work in picking keywords for your tags will work in picking them for your URL. However, you still need to own a site URL that is easy for your human customer to type in. The balance between including longtail keywords and providing your customer base with a URL that is easy to remember is a tough one, but it must be a priority for you to accomplish.

A search engine friendly URL does contain at least one of your chosen longtail keywords. This keyword should be carefully chosen based upon your site content. You may have to conduct some prior research with a couple of test sites on a shared server like WordPress before you commit to it on your landing page URL.

Localizing Your URL

If you can localize the longtail keyword that you place in your site URL, do so! You want to show up in local search results if you can, and your URL can provide you with a huge headstart over your competition. Be warned: The “snack packs” that Google showcases in local search results have recently been reduced from seven to three. This means that any advantage that you can use in order to get to that number one spot should be used.

You can localize your URL keyword by adding a street name or a city name. Make sure that you have this information in your citation as well so that you do not create unnecessary conflict in the search index algorithm of the major search engines.

Matching Citations to the URL

This leads directly into the next topic: matching your citations. Your URL will remain the same for a long time, hopefully. This means that all of your citations and tags must follow behind the Pied Piper. There is nothing worse for your search engine ranking than confusion among your keywords. You must view your URL as your lead keyword and make all of your other keywords follow in the path that this lead keyword sets.

Categorizing Your URL

You also have the ability to put keywords in your deep web pages. This is a great practice for organizing your website as your content grows. Make sure that all of your URLs contain humanized text – the days of accepting the nonsense strings that are given to you by default are over.

Formatting

Search engines like dashes instead of underscores. However, do not overuse dashes, as the word separator may be interpreted as spam by your human visitors, which will spill over into your search ranking.