Creating an URL Structure
If you are working on an SEO-friendly site, you need to put some focus on the structure of the URL itself. This factor is often overlooked or underestimated by webmasters, even though it’s by far one of the most important. The URL structure refers to more than just the domain address itself, it refers to every single page on your site, including directory names, image URLs, blog post URLs, and so forth.
Ideally, the structure should be straightforward and easy to remember. Unless you have an established, well-known brand, it’s best to use a keyword rather than your company name. This is because nobody will search for your brand specifically in the search engines unless you are well-known. They will search using keywords that are associated with your industry.
Here are some tips to help you create an URL structure for your site.
– Start with the domain. This is the web address of your website. As mentioned above, it’s ideal that you choose a keyword or keyword phrase, unless you have already established your brand. Keep the domain as short as possible with as few words and hyphens as possible. It’s best to stick with a .net, .com, or .org, as they carry more authority than other extensions.
– It’s better to use hyphens than underscores. This is because they are more user-friendly and easier to type. Also, don’t try to squish words together. Stick with a few words and separate them with hyphens. This tip isn’t just for the domain, but for any page on your site.
– You should have an informative folder structure. All your pages should be well-organized and feature concise URLs. Creating a proper information architecture means that every page is easy to identify and find. However, this does not mean that you should go overboard with the folder creation. Every single page should be no more than three folders from the main site root. Each folder and page should have a specific keyword for the name. Don’t add random numbers or letters. In short, your site should be easy to navigate, not just for crawlers, but for visitors as well.
– Conceal the irrelevant pages or pages with sensitive information from the search engines with the robot.txt. In this file you provide instructions to search engines as to which pages should be ignored by crawlers.
– For pages that are very similar, be sure to use the canonical tag parameter to help search engine crawlers decide on the canonical URL. This not only helps increase overall search engine rankings, it also helps prevent penalization due to duplicate content. For paginated content, such as a single report that spans multiple pages, rel=”next” and rel=”prev” should be used. This is a hint to Google that the pages should be treated as a logical sequence.
– If you are selling products, and want to give users a chance to narrow the search down by color, size, price, etc…, don’t use different URLs for each type of result for the same products. Once again, this is where canonicalization comes into play. Pick one specific URL and informs the search engines that it’s your preferred one.
Keep these tips in mind when working on your URL structure. You should be able to make your website as SEO-friendly as possible!