Posts Tagged ‘organic search’

Google’s SEO Starter Guide – URL Structure

March 19th, 2010

 

Improve The Structure of Your URLs

 

 

 

Creating descriptive categories and filenames for the documents on your website can not only help you keep your site better organized, but it could also lead to better crawling of your documents by search engines. Also, it can create easier, “friendlier” URLs for those that want to link to your content. Visitors may be intimidated by extremely long and cryptic URLs that contain few recognizable words.

 

 


SEO Guide URL Structure1


A URL to a page on our baseball card site that a user might have a hard time with

 

 

URLs like these can be confusing and unfriendly. Users would have a hard time reciting the URL from memory or creating a link to it. Also, users may believe that a portion of the URL is unnecessary, especially if the URL shows many unrecognizable parameters. They might leave off a part, breaking the link.

 

Some users might link to your page using the URL of that page as the anchor text. If your URL contains relevant words, this provides users and search engines with more information about the page than an ID or oddly named parameter would.

 

 


SEO Guide URL Structure2


The highlighted words above could inform a user or search engine what the target page is about before following the link

 

 

Lastly, remember that the URL to a document is displayed as part of a search result in Google, below the document’s title and snippet. Like the title and snippet, words in the URL on the search result appear in bold if they appear in the user’s query.

 

 


SEO Guide URL Structure3


A user performs the query [baseball cards]

 

 


SEO Guide URL Structure4


Our homepage appears as a result, with the URL listed under the title and snippet

 

 

Below is another example showing a URL on our domain for a page containing an article about the rarest baseball cards. The words in the URL might appeal to a search user more than an ID number like “www.brandonsbaseballcards.com/article/102125/” would.

 

 


SEO Guide URL Structure5


A user performs the query [rarest baseball cards]

 

 


SEO Guide URL Structure6


A deeper page, with a URL that reflects the type of content found on it, appears as a result

 

 

Google is good at crawling all types of URL structures, even if they’re quite complex, but spending the time to make your URLs as simple as possible for both users and search engines can help. Some webmasters try to achieve this by rewriting their dynamic URLs to static ones; while Google is fine with this, we’d like to note that this is an advanced procedure and if done incorrectly, could cause crawling issues with your site. To learn even more about good URL structure, we recommend this Webmaster Help Center page on creating Google-friendly URLs.

 

 

Good practices for URL structure

 

• Use words in URLs – URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be more willing to link to them.
Avoid:
•• using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
•• choosing generic page names like “page1.html”
•• using excessive keywords like “baseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseballcards.htm”

• Create a simple directory structure – Use a directory structure that organizes your content well and is easy for visitors to know where they’re at on your site. Try using your directory structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL.
Avoid:
•• having deep nesting of subdirectories like “…/dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/dir5/dir6/page.html”
•• using directory names that have no relation to the content in them

• Provide one version of a URL to reach a document – To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages. If you do find that people are accessing the same content through multiple URLs, setting up a 301 redirect from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL is a good solution for this.
Avoid:
•• having pages from subdomains and the root directory (e.g. “domain.com/page.htm” and “sub.domain.com/page.htm”) access the same content
•• mixing www. and non-www. versions of URLs in your internal linking structure
•• using odd capitalization of URLs (many users expect lower-case URLs and remember them better)