How to Create SEO-Friendly URLs (Step-by-Step)

Josh Ternyak

April 30, 2024

Crafting SEO-Friendly URLs

When it comes to optimizing your website for search engines, one crucial aspect to consider is the creation of SEO-friendly URLs. These URLs are designed to meet the needs of users and help search engines understand what a web page is about. By following certain guidelines and best practices, you can ensure that your URLs contribute positively to your overall SEO efforts.

Importance of SEO-Friendly URLs

SEO-friendly URLs play a significant role in improving the visibility and ranking of your web pages in search engine results. They provide both search engines and users with valuable information about the content of a page, making it easier for them to determine its relevance.

Including relevant keywords in the URL helps search engines like Google understand the topic of the page. For example, a URL like https://backlinko.com/seo-tools clearly indicates that the page is about SEO tools. This keyword inclusion not only helps with search engine rankings but also enhances the overall user experience by providing a clear and concise URL that accurately reflects the content.

Elements of an SEO-Friendly URL

To create an SEO-friendly URL, there are a few key elements to consider:

  1. Descriptive and Readable: A good URL should accurately describe the content of the page it represents. It should be concise, easy to read, and give users an idea of what the page is about at a glance. Avoid using long, convoluted URLs that can confuse search engines and users.
  2. Keyword Inclusion: Including relevant keywords in the URL can help search engines understand the topic of the page. Incorporate important keywords that align with the content and intent of the page. However, avoid keyword stuffing and keep the URL relevant and concise [1].
  3. Hyphens as Word Separators: When constructing URLs, it's best to use hyphens as "word separators" instead of underscores or spaces. Hyphens help search engines recognize that words are separate entities and improve readability. Google specifically recommends using hyphens in URLs [1]. For example, use https://example.com/seo-friendly-urls instead of https://example.com/seo_friendly_urls or https://example.com/seofriendlyurls.

By incorporating these elements into your URLs, you can create SEO-friendly structures that optimize both search engine visibility and user experience. Remember to keep your URLs concise, descriptive, and keyword-rich, ensuring they accurately represent the content of your web pages.

Keyword Inclusion in URLs

In the quest for SEO success, one key aspect to consider is the inclusion of keywords in URLs. Keywords in URLs play a significant role in helping search engines understand the topic of a webpage. Let's explore the significance of keywords in URLs and best practices for their inclusion.

Significance of Keywords in URLs

Including relevant keywords in the URL structure can provide search engines, like Google, with valuable information about the content of a webpage. By incorporating keywords in the URL, you can help search engines better understand the context and relevance of your page [1]. For instance, a URL such as https://example.com/seo-tools indicates that the page focuses on SEO tools, aiding search engines in accurate interpretation of the URL's content.

Furthermore, utilizing keywords in URLs can also positively impact search engine rankings. Short and concise URLs have been observed to have a strong correlation with higher rankings on Google [1]. Keeping URLs relevant and keyword-rich can enhance the visibility of your webpages in search results, increasing the likelihood of attracting organic traffic.

Best Practices for Keyword Inclusion

When it comes to including keywords in URLs, it's essential to follow best practices to maximize their effectiveness. Here are some guidelines to consider:

  1. Keep URLs concise and straightforward: Short URLs tend to perform better in search engine rankings, as they are easier to understand and remember. Avoid unnecessary words, numbers, and symbols that may confuse both search engines and users.
  2. Use hyphens to separate words: Google recommends using hyphens instead of underscores in SEO-friendly URLs [2]. Hyphens help search engines recognize the boundaries between words within the URL structure, allowing for a more accurate interpretation of the URL's content. Additionally, hyphens improve readability, accessibility, social engagement, and search engine rankings in URLs.
  3. Make URLs human-readable: Well-written URLs can serve as anchor text when shared on various platforms, such as forums, blogs, and social media networks. Human-readable URLs provide users with a better understanding of the content they can expect when clicking on the link. Incorporating keywords in a way that makes the URL informative and user-friendly can increase the likelihood of attracting organic traffic.

By following these best practices, you can optimize your URLs to be more SEO-friendly and improve the chances of your webpages ranking higher in search engine results. Remember, the goal is to create URLs that are concise, keyword-rich, and easily understood by both search engines and users.

Using Hyphens in URLs

When it comes to creating SEO-friendly URLs, the use of hyphens is highly recommended. Hyphens are used as "word separators" in URLs to indicate to search engines that words within the URL are separate entities. This separation helps search engines better understand the content of the URL, resulting in improved SEO performance. In contrast, underscores and spaces can cause confusion for search engines.

Hyphens vs. Underscores in URLs

The choice between hyphens and underscores in URLs has been a topic of debate. However, Google recommends using hyphens over underscores or spaces as word separators in URLs [1]. While both hyphens and underscores serve the purpose of separating words, they have subtle differences that can impact readability, SEO performance, and compatibility across different systems and platforms.

Hyphens are considered the best practice for creating new URLs due to several reasons (PageTraffic):

  • Readability: Hyphens are visually appealing and easier to comprehend in URLs. They create a clear distinction between words, making the URL more user-friendly.
  • SEO Optimization: Hyphens help search engines better understand the boundaries between words within the URL structure, facilitating a more accurate interpretation of the URL's content. This can positively impact your website's SEO.
  • Compatibility: Hyphens are widely supported across different systems, platforms, and browsers. On the other hand, underscores may have compatibility issues with older platforms and can cause problems when copy-pasting URLs.
  • User Engagement: URLs with hyphens are more likely to attract clicks and user engagement when shared on social media or through email. Their improved readability makes them visually appealing and easier to remember.

Benefits of Hyphens in URL Structure

Using hyphens in URL structure offers several advantages for both search engines and users:

  • Improved Readability: Hyphens make URLs more readable by separating words and making them easier to understand at a glance.
  • Better Search Engine Comprehension: Search engines can accurately interpret the content of URLs when hyphens are used as word separators, leading to improved SEO performance.
  • Enhanced Accessibility: Hyphens in URLs benefit users who rely on assistive technologies, such as screen readers, by providing a clear distinction between words and improving accessibility.
  • Consistency in URL Structure: Hyphens help maintain a consistent and standardized format in URL structures, making it easier for users and search engines to navigate and understand website content.
  • Increased User Engagement: URLs with hyphens are more visually appealing and easier to comprehend, resulting in higher click-through rates and increased user engagement when shared on social media or through email.

By using hyphens in your URLs, you can create a more SEO-friendly structure that is easily understood by search engines and users alike. Remember to follow best practices for keyword inclusion and URL length to further optimize your URLs for search engine visibility and user experience.

URL Length and Structure

When it comes to creating SEO-friendly URLs, the length and structure of the URL play a crucial role in search engine optimization. In this section, we will explore the impact of URL length on SEO and the importance of avoiding dates in URLs.

Impact of URL Length on SEO

URL length can have a significant impact on SEO. Shorter URLs tend to perform better in search engine rankings. According to Backlinko, there is a strong correlation between short URLs and higher Google rankings. Short and concise URLs are easier for search engines to process and understand, improving the overall user experience.

Long and complex URLs, on the other hand, can confuse search engines and users alike. They may be less likely to be clicked on and shared, impacting the visibility and reach of the content. Therefore, it is important to keep URLs as short and straightforward as possible to increase the chances of ranking higher in search engine results.

Avoiding Dates in URLs

Including dates in URLs is a common practice, especially for websites that frequently publish time-sensitive content. However, it is recommended to avoid using dates in URLs whenever possible. Dates in URLs can make them longer and more complicated, which can pose challenges when updating or modifying the content.

According to Backlinko, using dates in URLs can be confusing when content needs to be updated. If the content becomes outdated, it may require changing the URL structure or redirecting the old URL to a new one, which can be time-consuming and potentially impact the website's SEO.

Instead of relying on dates in URLs, it is better to focus on creating descriptive and evergreen URLs that are more timeless and consistent. This approach ensures that the URLs remain relevant even as the content is updated or modified.

By keeping URLs short and avoiding the use of dates, you can create SEO-friendly URLs that enhance the visibility and search rankings of your website. Remember to follow additional URL best practices, such as using keywords, hyphens, and lowercase letters, as discussed in other sections of this article.

URL Best Practices

When it comes to creating SEO-friendly URLs, there are several best practices to keep in mind. By following these practices, you can improve the readability, user experience, and search engine visibility of your URLs.

URL Readability and User Experience

A well-crafted URL provides both humans and search engines with an easy-to-understand indication of what the destination page will be about. It offers improved user experience by making it clear what visitors will see if they click the link. Search engines also consider this factor when determining a page's relevance to a search query [3].

To enhance URL readability and user experience, consider the following tips:

  • Keep URLs simple, concise, and relevant to the content of the page.
  • Use words that accurately describe the content of the page.
  • Avoid using unnecessary numbers or special characters that do not add value to the URL.
  • Use hyphens (-) to separate words within the URL for better readability.

Lowercase Letters in URLs

Using lowercase letters in URLs is a recommended practice to avoid issues with duplicate pages. URLs are case-sensitive, meaning that uppercase and lowercase letters are treated as distinct characters. By consistently using lowercase letters, you can prevent potential problems that may arise when differentiating between URLs that only differ in case.

Additionally, using lowercase letters in URLs contributes to the overall readability and consistency of your website. It ensures that URLs are uniform and easier to read, both for users and search engines.

By implementing these best practices, you can create URLs that are optimized for both search engines and users. Remember to keep your URLs simple, relevant, compelling, and accurate to enhance the overall SEO performance of your website [3].

SEO URL Structure Strategies

When it comes to optimizing URLs for search engine optimization (SEO), implementing semantic SEO principles and integrating ontology and taxonomy into the URL structure can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. Let's explore these strategies in more detail.

Semantic SEO Principles

Semantic SEO focuses on the meaning and context of the content, allowing search engines to better understand and interpret the information on a website. This approach involves structuring URLs in a way that reflects the relationships between different pieces of content and provides valuable context to search engines and users.

By incorporating semantic SEO principles into your URL structure, you can improve search engine visibility and enhance the user experience. Search engines will have a clearer understanding of your website's content, making it more likely to be ranked higher in search results.

Implementing Ontology and Taxonomy

Ontology and taxonomy are fundamental concepts in semantic SEO that can greatly contribute to the organization and structure of URLs.

  • Ontology: In the context of SEO, ontology refers to the practice of establishing relationships between different content elements on a website. By structuring URLs to reflect these relationships, you can create a logical hierarchy that helps search engines and users navigate your website more efficiently. For example, a URL structure that includes parent categories and subcategories can indicate the relationships between different pages and content topics.
  • Taxonomy: Taxonomy involves categorizing content under broader topics or categories. By creating a taxonomy within your URL structure, you can make it easier for search engines and users to understand the organization of your website. This can be achieved by including relevant keywords or topic indicators in the URL, helping search engines categorize and index your content more accurately.

By implementing a comprehensive URL structure that integrates ontological and taxonomical principles, you can significantly enhance your website's SEO strategy. This approach not only improves search engine rankings but also enhances user engagement and overall website usability.

To summarize, adopting semantic SEO principles and incorporating ontology and taxonomy into your URL structure can greatly benefit your SEO efforts. By providing meaningful context and organizing your content effectively, you can enhance search engine visibility, improve user experience, and increase the overall effectiveness of your SEO strategy.

References

[1]: https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/urls

[2]: https://www.pagetraffic.com/blog/hyphen-vs-underscore-in-url/

[3]: https://moz.com/learn/seo/url

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