Generally webmasters do not give importance to the URL of an article. If you are the one concentrating on the content and thinking what is it in the URL then this article is for you. The keywords and structure of an URL can impact the ranking of your site in search engine results page (SERP). If a search engine can understand the correlation between the URL, content and the search keyword then it is guaranteed that the page will appear top in the search.
URL and Search Ranking
For Google and other search engines, URL of a webpage does not really matter. There are other factors like page title, meta description, content, page speed, internal and external links have higher priority in evaluating the ranking of a page. However, URL can play different role in terms better user experience. For example, users can remember simple URL or search the keywords in the simple URL to find your site. Therefore, when focusing on optimizing your content, we recommend considering URL structure as one of the factors.
Use Descriptive URL
Simple and descriptive URLs will easily convey the purpose of the web page both to the users as well as to the search engines. This will also help to organize and categorize the content accordingly and the search engines crawlers can understand the sitemap of your site with ease. Extremely long and confusing URLs with few words as the one shown below may frighten the user to think whether the site is trustworthy or not.
In other words, the user will tend to read and share a descriptive URL as the one here. The user can also easily remember the URL and check it later.
URL is Displayed in Search Results
Finally, URL of a webpage is displayed in the search results of any search engines. In Google the URL is shown in-between Page Title and Meta Description. The search keyword is also highlighted in title, description and in URL. Below is a typical search result example from Google:
If breadcrumb navigation structure is used on a site then search engines may tend to replace the URL with breadcrumbs as it gives more information to the users.
Hyphens Vs Underscore
Most of the content management systems will automatically consider the page or post title to be used as a URL. In such scenarios the spaces between the words are converted to hyphens in the URL like “/this-is-a-url”. Google clearly recommends to use hyphens in the URL for word separator instead of any other characters like underscore. Using hyphens (-) in the URL helps search engines to understand the meaning properly compared with continuous words or using underscore (_).
- Good one – “https://www.webnots.com/seo-for-meta-description.html”
- Bad one – “https://www.webnots.com/seoformetadescription.html”
- Bad one – “https://www.webnots.com/seo_for_meta_desscription.html”
If you are using dynamic URLs it is recommended to rewrite the same to static ones so that the search engines can index it easily.
Choosing URL for Your Domain
When choosing your domain name or site address ensure the following points are taken care:
- Keep your site URL as short as possible so that the visitor can remember your site easily
- Avoid using numbers and underscores in the URL
- Ensure to use a keyword in your URL related to your content
Dos and Don’ts with URL
- URLs containing descriptive words relevant to your site’s content and structure are easier for the users to remember and navigate.
- Using structured approach helps to classify your content and makes it easy for visitors to know where they are on your site.
- Whenever changing the URL, use appropriate 301 redirects to direct users to the correct page on your site.
- Use 404 redirect to inform users about an alternate page on your site that the user may be interested. Also providing the home page URL and a search box will help users to find relevant information.
- Lengthy URLs with confusing parameters like numbers or session ID.
- Using generic page names like “untitled.html” or “page1.html”.
- Stuffing unnecessary keywords in the URL may lead search engines to demote your site.
- Nesting of pages like “…/page1/page2/page3.html”
- URL names having no relation to the content.
- Odd capitalization of URLs, better to have a lower case URLs which helps the user to remember easily.
- Using special characters, underscores and punctuation marks.
Note: It is also possible to create a page URL in different language other than English. This will be useful if you are targeting users of specific language base on a particular region. Wikipedia is one of the best example having page URLs for specific languages.