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SEO Friendly URL Structure Simplified

What is SEO friendly URL structure?

SEO friendly URL structure simply means the structuring of URLs in such a way that they help your page rank as better in search results. Like quality content, URLs are also important factors while a search engine ranks your page for relevance. When you come to think about it, it is quite obvious.

Say for example you are searching for Ipod Touch on a search engine. A number of results pop up as you press the search button. Let’s see what examples we have got and analyze a few URLs returned to us.

1. www.example.com/ipodtouch/

2. www.example.com/q?=246

3. www.example.com/phone/246

4. www.example.com/pda/ipod-touch

Number 1 is easy to understand, the URL itself tells you what you are going to find in that page. Though the structure is not optimal it okay.

Number 2 is a mystery. Until you click it, you have no idea if you end up reaching a page with iPods or iPads. This is a bad URL structure. This does not mean that search engines will penalize you, but having static address help. Usability is improved.

Number 3 is also an open question and that too an incorrect one. What does number 246 mean? You need to click it to understand. Most won’t.

Number 4 is the most SEO friendly URL structure. Right from the URL you know that it belongs to which category and the page is about iPod Touch only.

Related: The Basic SEO Guide For Everyone

What characters are to be avoided to create SEO friendly URLs?

Check this article out for more technical roundup – Understanding SEO friendly URL syntax
Some of these characters are reserved for special purposes while some are to be avoided. Let’s check them out one by one.

Reserved Characters

Reserved URL Characters - SEO friendly URL

Source: Search Engine Land 

These are reserved for a specific purpose. In order to use them correctly go through this guide. It is geeky but does a great job.

Avoid these as far as possible

Unsafe Characters

Unsafe URL Characters - SEO friendly URL image
Source: Search Engine Land

 

They also have their uses but then again you are better of NOT them. Same thing goes for this list below.

Miscellaneous Characters

Miscellaneous URL Characters - SEO friendly URL image
Source: Search Engine Land

Remove Underscores

Underscores are legal in URL structures but it is recommended NOT to use them. You can use hyphens for instance. They can denote spaces, separate phrases and keywords well enough. For example make sure you write ipod-touch instead of ipod_touch in the URL. Hyphens are an integral part of SEO friendly URL syntax.

No Mixed Cases

Multiple cases in URLs just don’t work. Indeed they can be a source of duplicate content. Make sure you stick to a single case, preferably small for all your URLs to maintain conformity. Also remember that www.example.com/phone/iphone and www.example.com/phone/Iphone are seen as different pages by the search engines. So besides creating duplicate content page rank will also be divided. Mixed case URLs kill otherwise SEO friendly URL structures.

Keep your focus Keyword

It is ideal to keep the keyword or keywords you focus for a post to be present in the SEO friendly URL structure. Also the closer it is to the beginning, the better. Something like “cheap-iphones-bay-area” is better than “bay-area-afforable-and-cheap-iphones”. If you are looking for something you expect to find it closer to the beginning, right? Check this excellent post about ideal URL length.

Number of words in URL

This is interesting. I will suggest about a maximum of 5 or 6. Anything more is not recommended. Anything less is too less. You might think putting keyword rich phrases in URLs is impossible with the 5 word limit. It is not. Because of the next point.

Avoid slug words

Slugs or stop words unnecessarily congest your URL with words that are very common in common English. Of course you DON’T want to rank for “the”. So keep only the important keywords and strip the stop words.

Remove all the stop words in the URL – :

I, a, about, an, are, as, at, be, by, in, is, it, of, on, or, that, the, this, to, was, what, when, where, who, will, with, the.

So for example your URl with stop words is

/the-best-king-of-england/

So the optimized URL will be,

/best-king-england/ 

If you follow these basics you are in a very good shape. For a cheat sheet also check this out.

Anatomy of A URL - seo friendly keyword structure
Source: SEOMoz

If you found this post to be useful please consider sharing this as well, or link back to this if you please. If I have missed out any tips about creating SEO Friendly URL Structures please write in the comments section. Thanks! 🙂


By Sarthak Ganguly

A programming aficionado, Sarthak spends most of his time programming or computing. He has been programming since his sixth grade. Now he has two websites in his name and is busy writing two books. Apart from programming, he likes reading books, hanging out with friends, watching movies and planning wartime strategies.

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