In the past, people only cared about one thing, making a beautiful website that users would love. Fast-forward to the present and people need their websites to not only be beautiful but also to be found. There are over one billion websites in the world today and that makes finding an unknown company a challenge but there are things you can do as a designer or developer to give your work an advantage.
As a developer, your main concerns might be site speed, crawlability along with other technical things. You might be thinking your work is hard enough without needing to learn about SEO, yet today’s clients not only want you to have that knowledge, they need you to have that knowledge to remain competitive.
Make a Search Engine Friendly URL
You’re a human, I’m a human, most people typing into a search engine are probably humans but search engines are spiders or crawlers or bots. While you can’t think like a search engine, you can understand how search engines work. When you type a word, phrase or even a question into the search engine you are given a list of results.
Those results come from spiders and bots that have indexed your website and have decided what your site is about based on many factors. Today we’ll look at URLs in an SEO perspective.
Alesia Krush from Search Engine Journal says, “from an SEO point of view, a site’s URL structure should be:
Straightforward: URLs with duplicate content should have canonical URLs specified for them; there should be no confusing redirects on the site, etc.
Meaningful: URL names should have keywords in them, not gibbering numbers and punctuation marks.
With emphasis on the right URLs: SEO-wise, not all URLs on a site are of equal importance as a rule. Some even should be concealed from the search engines. At the same time, it is important to check that the pages that ought to be accessible to the search engines are actually open for crawling and indexing.”
In doing these things you’re helping search engines understand what your website is about, therefore, the spiders and bots can index your site easier and faster.
Let’s look a couple examples.
Example URL 1: https://robots.com/products/item23984
What do you think you will see? Firstly, you see the word robots but that only tells you one word, this site could be about anything. What is item23984?
Example URL 2: https://robots.com/reviews/starships
What do you think you will see in this example? You see the words: robot, reviews, and starship. Chances are you expect to see a review of starships.
Now, which one do you think is easier for a search engine to understand? Going further here are few more tips to keep in mind when creating SEO friendly URLs:
- Google gives the most weight to the first few words in the URL. If you want to rank for something specific, try to make sure that keyword is in the beginning of the URL. Your URLs do not need to follow your site structure. “There’s a false belief in play here – people often think that URL structure signals site structure. Just because your URL is 3 levels deep doesn’t mean the crawlers will treat the page as being 3 levels deep.” Dr. Peter J. Meyers, MOZ If your most unique keywords are at the end of the URL they don’t hold as much value.
- Use dashes not underscores between words. Dashes represent spaces between words and underscores remove spaces between words. use-dashes-between-words is the same as writing, use dashes between words. dont_use_underscores_between_words is the same as writing, dontuseunderscoresbetweenwords
- The more levels deep you have in your URL the harder it becomes for bots to crawl your site. Try to aim for a target of three or less.
- Don’t stuff the URL with keywords. Give your page an honest URL with meaningful keywords. Search engines are smart and every day they are improving. You don’t want to get in trouble by the mighty search engine kings as they can and will penalize your site and move your domain authority and page rank down so that it’s harder to be found by people. Don’t do this: https://robots.com/robot-reviews/robot-starship-robot-s9.html
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