Google values user-friendly and straightforward URLs. They even have a section about URLs in their SEO Starter Guide.
Before moving on, I have fantastic news for you! Creating SEO-friendly URLs is not rocket science.
To make the process even simpler, I have created a step-by-step guide:
The Structure of URLs
URLs consist of several elements. The picture below shows the structure of most of the URLs.
Let’s dive into each element.
The protocol indicates how the browser should retrieve information about the source. The most common protocols are HTTP and HTTPS, where S stands for “secure”.
There can be other types of protocols too like mailto: (for opening mail app) and ftp: for transferring files)
Domain name, i. e., the hostname, is the name of the specific location where the website is placed. In most of the cases, it is the name of your business or brand.
Subdomains come before the domain name. They are used for organizing websites or creating a different language version of the website.
Top-Level Domain (TLD)
TLD is an extension tied to a website. Common examples include .com, .net, .org. There are also other versions of TLD. Some are tied to countries such as .am (for Armenia).
Slug identifies a particular page. If used correctly, it should explain the content of the page.
How to Create SEO-Friendly URLs
Optimizing URLs will not take a lot of time; there are a few steps that you need to follow, and it can be used for all of the URLs on your site.
1. Special Characters
The first thing you need to do is remove all the square brackets and backslashes. These are considered unsafe characters, and having them in your URLs might bring you an additional hazard.
More specifically, unsafe characters can introduce security vulnerabilities, which will make your site exploitable by wicked individuals.
But you should stop here. In facts, Google says:
“I generally recommend avoiding special characters like commas, semicolons, colons, spaces, quotes, etc. in URLs, to help keep things simple. URLs like that are often harder to automatically link (when someone posts in a forum or elsewhere), and hard for us to recognize correctly when we parse text content to try to find new URLs. When they’re linked normally or submitted through a sitemap directly, they work as expected.”
So make sure to remove commas, spaces, quotation marks and colons from your site.
It is a common practice to put numbers in the title of an article. Let’s say you wrote about “9 Changes that will Affect SEO in 2021.”
Some of us also like to update articles from time to time to bring the most value to the users. Let’s say you add one more change to your article. You can quickly go and change the title, but what about the URL?
You have to redirect to the new URL. This might not seem a problem when you have one update. But when you have multiple updates, you might lose the track and forget to redirect to the correct URL. This will result in incongruent title and URL in the search results, ultimately causing confusion.
Here is an example from search engine results:
The best practice in this scenario is removing numbers from URLs. So, instead of having “9 Changes that will Affect SEO in 2021” in the URL, we can write /changes-that-will-affect-seo.
As you will notice, we removed but the number in front, for the number of changes, as well as the year to preserve this content and allow for us to later update it.
3. Concentrate on the Main Keyword
You probably use the main keyword in the title of the article. However, this might not always be sufficient.
Let’s imagine I wrote a blog with the following title, “Beginner’s Guide to Link Prospecting.” After some time, I realize that this article does not perform well, so I change it to “The Ultimate Guide to Link Prospecting.”
To avoid further confusion, I could have put “Link Prospecting” in the URL from the beginning. That way, I would have had enough freedom to update the title without bothering with link mismatches.
Compare these two URLs:
Is it just me, or the second one looks unsafe and confusing compared to the first one?
Now let’s compare these two:
You are able to read the second one, but it seems like they are just a few words rambled together without necessarily expressing meaning.
So, my point here is that I gotta make your URLs short and meaningful, as you want to increase the user experience in every possible way. That’s what Google told us in their recent update.
5. Lower Case VS Upper Case
Everything that comes after the domain name is usually case-sensitive. Some of the web servers will treat lower and upper cases as the same, but this is not always the case.
Changing your URL element into the lower case is a safer option, as it will decrease the possibility of having duplicate pages.
So for this article, our URL will be linksignal.ai/seo-friendly-urls instead of linksignal.ai/SEO-friendly-URLs
There are multiple tools you can use to convert uppercase to lowercase. Our favorite is https://convertcase.net/
6. Keep it Short
Removing additional words from URLs will only benefit you.
Google itself tells “in URLs, keep things simple.”
There are a few reasons for this:
- People might be intimidated by long URLs.
- URLs will get truncated in the SERP.
Instead of adding the full title in the URL “How to Create SEO-Friendly URLs” simply write “SEO-Friendly URLs.”
Optimizing URLs Won’t Take Much Time
As you saw, creating or optimizing SEO-Friendly URLs will not take a lot of time and effort. In fact, it can be performed by anyone familiar with the content management system (CMS).
Comment below as soon as you finish optimizing your URLs and tell us about your experience!