What Is an SEO URL?
- 1 Is Having an SEO URL Important?
- 2 SEO URL Best Practices
- 3 Wrapping Up
When you click on a link in Google search results, you may not immediately notice the URL that you’re navigating to. However, for content marketers, this is a powerful part of the SEO puzzle. And if you forget which website or page you’re on as you scroll through content or click through tabs, the URL is the first place you’ll look.
An SEO URL is a web page address that’s been optimized with your target keyword. It’s usually short and clearly explains what the page is about.
In this article, we’ll discuss why having an SEO URL is important and how to set up your page address for success.
Is Having an SEO URL Important?
Yes! Just like search engines look at your page content and metadata for signals about what a page is about, they also consider the URL.
In Google Search Central, the SEO Starter Guide discusses the benefit of having an SEO friendly URL:
- “Visitors may be intimidated by extremely long and cryptic URLs that contain few recognizable words.”
- “If your URL is meaningful, it can be more useful and easily understandable in different contexts.”
- “URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site.”
When discussing the SEO URL, though, we can’t leave out mentioning the dynamic URL.
SEO Friendly URL vs. Dynamic URL
An SEO URL — or a static URL, more specifically — is one that doesn’t change unless you manually change it.
Here’s an example of a static URL:
A dynamic URL will change by adding different parameters based on user actions. For example, in an online shop, if a user selects a certain color for the product they’re viewing, the URL may update.
This is common in online shops that list a lot of products and product options. Here’s the main URL to a magnet listed on Etsy:
By selecting a specific size for the magnet, the URL updates to reflect the change:
Usually, dynamic URLs have a lower click-through rate than static URLs, which are much more SEO-friendly.
However, depending on the type of website you run, creating static URLs for every single page may be far too time-consuming.
Whenever possible, opt for a static, SEO friendly URL. But if you run an online shop with lots of variations or products being removed and added all the time, know that having some dynamic URLs is unavoidable.
SEO URL Best Practices
Here’s how to create a clickable SEO URL that both Google and visitors will like.
Include a Keyword
Add the target keyword that you want your page to rank for. That’s one of the best signs to Google that your page is about that topic.
Remember, since you’re avoiding keyword cannibalization, you shouldn’t be using the same target keyword on multiple pages, so your URLs should always be different, too.
Use Hyphens To Separate Words
Instead of writing all the words together in your URL, use hyphens to separate them. For example, instead of linkwhisper.com/linkbuildingstrategies, we have a page with the URL linkwhisper.com/link-building-strategies.
Not only is this more readable for users, but it also clearly tells web crawlers what the site is about without words getting confused.
Google talks about this in its Search Central documentation, too.
Write In Lowercase
While web crawlers can understand URLs that have uppercase letters, for the sake of creating an SEO friendly URL, stick with lowercase throughout.
People are used to seeing all-lowercase wording used online, like in URLs and social media hashtags, so they won’t have trouble reading it. And adding uppercase letters to your URL can make it seem like you’re not internet savvy since it’s customary and modern to use all lowercase letters.
Keep It Short
When writing the URL, you want to include the target keyword but you don’t need to include the full blog post title, which may end up being too long for SEO purposes.
Whether it’s a long URL because you included a lengthy blog post title or because it’s a dynamic URL, they’re harder for web crawlers and human users to read and interpret.
Remember, when it comes to URLs, you want (1) web crawlers to easily find, understand and index them, and (2) potential site visitors to be enticed to click on them.
Don’t Include a Date
Having a date in the URL doesn’t communicate anything important that the user can’t find elsewhere, and it’s not nearly as clickable as having a keyword in your URL. Compare the two results below:
Since the date is already directly to the left of the meta description, there’s no benefit to including it in the URL, and you miss the opportunity to add a keyword or make the URL short and more clickable.
Your URL can reflect your website’s organization and help users figure out where they are on your site. Search engines also have an easier time making sense of your web pages when the URLs include navigation cues. Here’s an example:
The link above tells you (1) the website you’re on, (2) the section of the website you’re in (the knowledge base), and (3) the knowledge base topic you’re reading about.
Use Subfolders Instead of Subdomains
A subdomain may look something like this: blog.website.com. A subfolder will look like this: website.com/blog.
Subdomains function as separate websites, and search engines treat them accordingly. That’s why subfolders — which are treated as part of your website and directly influence ranking — are better.
One of the top search engine ranking factors is click-through rate, and website owners will do just about anything (within reason and white hat SEO techniques) to get more clicks.
Your URL plays a big role in whether or not a user clicks it in search results. It’s common for users to quickly look at the URL to figure out where a link is going to direct them. The clearer the SEO URL, the more they’ll trust it and consider clicking or sharing it.
If you’ve been neglecting your URLs and letting them default to whatever your CMS chooses, it’s time to think in terms of SEO. An SEO friendly URL plays an important role in everything from search engine indexing to click-through rate.
Also, always try to create an SEO URL before you publish the page. That way, you won’t have to rely on a redirect if you need to update the URL in the future.
Your website URL will also tell people whether or not your website is secure. Learn more here.