The URL, Uniform Resource Locator, forms a web address of your online business or venture. Entrepreneurs and merchants spend weeks and months to come up with a creative domain name that is in accordance with the SEO practices and fulfill their business requirements as well. SEO has become a mandatory part of marketing, promotion and reaching targeted user groups.
For an online business, a URL is as much important as a physical address or a phone number to a traditional business. It needs to be structured according to the best practices to reach the masses without carrying any ambiguity or a negative impression. The URLs that are automatically generated by a publishing or buy and sell platform often includes annoying characters, which may decline the conversion rate of the entire web page.
You may suffer losses just because the URL is not user-friendly and they are not comfortable while scanning the web address. Following are some of the tips that can help you refine the structure to make it human readable and search engine friendly, because an easy to understand URL performs much better than a vague one.
1. Improve URL Readability
Customers need to quickly scan the URLs before clicking it. The readability of your web address helps them to know what the website is about. Let say a doctor with specialization in ear, nose, and throat can simplify selecting a domain name with ENTexpert.com or other simple words rather than selecting something like Otorhinolaryngologist.com that is hard to read, spell and remember for a common man. In the same way, professionals like accountants, lawyers, business consultants need to carefully usewords in the URL that are easy to understand for their target audience.
The engineers, doctors, and architects who need to reach a selected group of users are free in the selection of words as they suppose that the target audience will be familiar with the technical terms and jargons, but using the same technique, in general, is not permissible. There is a huge difference between the understanding and knowledge of layman and expert smartphone buyer. A person passionate about gadgets may understand the technical aspects, hence the vocabulary as well, but a common man do not. So, use simple words in the URLs to ensure that every user understands the product right before visiting a page.
2. Turn the URLs Pretty
The URLs that include IDs, codes and a never-ending series of special characters are known as ugly links which fail to attract users to your website. Most of the blogging and eCommerce platforms add such codes while generating the URLs. For instance,
is a link to a valuable online product, but due to the unfavorable special characters, it is no more attracted at all. The online buyers are highly cautious in clicking and due to these IDs, the URLs of a website seems no longer to be credit worthy. It may pose a threat to malicious attack and users may refrain from clicking it, thus reducing the click through rate of your store and declining the sales.
The marketers and store managers use different tools to remove auto-generated IDs from the URLs or restructure each link manually and set redirections for them as well.
3. Canonicalize Duplicate Links
How will you feel if your friend gives you two or more addresses of the same home where he lives? You will definitely ask him for a final and each to reach an address, rather than trying them all. The URLs are working in the same way as they direct customers to a product page or category. If more than two links are serving customers to a common page, Google robots take it as duplicate content and may penalize your website.
A plagiarism penalty may decline search engine ranking of the web pages. It will no longer attract a higher audience. Use canonical tags for removing duplicate links and avoiding such a situation.
4. Adding Keywords is Still a Good Practice
The use of keywords in URLs is still a preferred practice. Your domain name may not be as clear to communicate the nature of business, but the additional keywords may do it perfectly well. For example, a house removal services company establishes online business with
www.abc-movers.com is more meaningful and understandable.
If you are unable to add business key-phrases in the domain name, you can do so for a product or service page. For example, structuring the URL like
www.abc.com/house-removals/ is preferred than leaving it as
The addition of business related words is compulsory for helping the search engine as well as the users to know what the page is about. The e-commerce websites use to add product names in links to that specific page.
5. Bring Consistency in Page Title and URL
Search engines show off the URLs along with a page title and description. It is highly recommended to bring consistency in the details shown in the search snippet. An internet user writes a query matching to his requirements and clicks the link that seems to be authentic. The search result that has a different title than the URL will not be credible in the eyes of a user. Following is an example of achieving consistency in the search engine results of your online store.
There is a common word ‘modules’ in the title, link and Meta description, which highlights with a matching search query. If you skip adding such words in the URL, the title becomes misleading and makes the consumer not to click it anymore. The page title is equally important while promoting a product or service that’s why it shall be customized according to the content the page contains.
In addition to a search engine, the significance of titles is also felt while promoting a website on social media. The moment you update the status by pasting the URL, the social networks fetches the Meta data as well, which primarily includes the title as well. Here is how it needs to be shown.
Here, the URLs are not clearly visible, but once a user clicks the post and land the page, they observe the consistency of the page with what they have clicked. So, be wise in writing the Meta details besides the link address of your website.
6. Get Rid of Stop Words
The search engine is said to skip stop words while scanning a URL. These words include but, and, or, of, the, etc. For higher ranking in the SERPs, the robots need to understand the suffixes you added in the URL about a product or service. It a crawler skips a few words from them; it will be meaningless and result in indexing to an irrelevant category.
For example, the URL of an online store dealing in
www.example.com/dresses-for-the-party will be read as
/dresses-party/ which is not as clear as it was meant to be. In result, the web page will not perform as per expectations. So, to avoid such mismanagement, skip the stop words and arrange the words yourself. The above example can be improved with
www.example.com/party-wear/ that makes a meaningful phrase without using the stop words.
The bloggers and article writers are also required to write a more concise URL that is free from stop words because a search robot can ruin a creative title while scanning it the wrong way. Though, some of the bloggers use the title as it is in the URL and do not care about the rankings because of their established authority in a specific niche, as they are more concerned about user readability.
7. Stick to Fewer Folders
Add more folders simply mean you own an online store that is exclusive and hard to explore. Online buyers like to dig to a certain number of folders to find their desired products. Adding more and more attributes within a category may give them a reason to leave the website and find products somewhere else.
Let’s say, a user needs to buy birthday dresses and lands a garment shop. Generally, it needs a separate category page for an easy access from the home page, but if they have placed it in general dressing, it will make difficult for them to dig out. A user will have to visit,
Now, imagine, if you share a URL with this structure
www.example.com/dresses/birthday-dresses/under-18/casual/shirts/small.html how much success you will get in targeting a potential buyer, either on social media, forums, and other platforms? The first impression of such a URL is that the website is too heavy to deal with. A simple structure with fewer folders, like
www.example.com/birthday-dresses, catches more attention and makes them know more about the products.
8. Separate the Words
Separating the words within the URLs is also an effort to make them readable. The name of a product, or service or a blog post title is often a phrase or a complete sentence. The entire meaningful sentence becomes vague when added to a URL without spaces. For instance,
To separate the words, you can either use a hyphen (-) or an underscore (_). After applying hyphen to the above examples, you can understand how easy it is to read.
Whereas, adding an underscore can be misleading as it combines with the underline and confuses the user either space is used or an underscore.
Both, the hyphen and underscores, are in practice, but the hyphen is more recommended by markers. Most of the programmers are still more comfortable with the use of underscore. In terms of search engine optimization, both are treated equally while indexing and ranking a URL.
9. Set Redirections Fairly
The core reason of setting up redirections is to help the end consumers reach the desired page. Merchants can forward traffic from different online properties to a mainstream business website with the help of redirections. In short, it is a helpful tool and not a shortcut to grab more page impressions and link juice from the search engine.
The redirection from a website to another is fairly acceptable, but keeping the users in a continuous loop of redirection is a malpractice and can do harm rather than a benefit. A majority of internet users browses websites on their smartphones and other mobile devices, and keeping them in loop redirect is a serious threat to your fan following.
10. Merge www and the non-www
If your website loads with and without the www, it means you have two web addresses. You may face the same problems as discussed in the point number 2 above that is about duplicate links. Google and other search engines consider both the versions separately, hence the link juice to your home-page may distribute between the two. It compromises your website authority.
To avoid this, one method is to redirect one version to another so that you gain traffic and ranking both. The second method is to select a preferred URL to help the crawlers take into account the primary link address while evaluating for ranking.
The structure of URL is as significant as the quality of your product or service. It is your virtual address that needs to be clear, concise and understandable. A minor in the domain name, prefixes or suffixes may break down the chain of grabbing customers to the checkout page. The online buyers are much careful while clicking a link as they have conscious about malicious attacks. A well-structured URL can stand you apart from harmful websites and the credibility to let the customers feel safe and secure.
With the help of above-described tips and easy to follow procedures, you can easily restructure the URLs for perfection to improve search engine visibility and human readability. The search engine ranking factors are also focusing the ease and comfort of end users in the URLs and content of the relevant pages. Follow the above steps if you are aiming a higher ranking and trust among a targeted user group.