Why does the URL structure of a website matter? How can having keywords in the URLs help with SEO?
Google recommends that the URL structure of a website should be as simple as possible. Best practices tell us to organize content using a method that constructs URLs logically according to what humans would expect see. Furthermore, readable words should be included in URLs in favor of long numbers or product ID’s whenever possible.
Some websites typically do not use SEO friendly URLs or have an optimized URL structure, as a result the links generated for products, pages, blog posts, and other sections throughout the site are not very user friendly.
Basic studies have shown that website visitors and potential customers would prefer to see a URL such as:
rather than: http://www.website.com/category-20995b33-4av7-0323-13c4-wwf5c425es8d
Using URLs that contain keywords can help with SEO and user experience while further boosting current internet marketing incentives.
When the URLs of a website contain keywords that are relative to the location of categories, products, pages, and document filenames, it allows the site to maintain consistent URL structure, providing a better organized website for search engine bots to crawl.
Additional benefits of using SEO friendly URLs and an optimized URL structure include:
- URLs with a structured hierarchy are preferred by GoogleBot, because more consistent URLs make it easier to crawl pages throughout the site.
- New pages will get indexed and displayed in search results faster at Google, meaning updates/changes to existing pages or products are able to be re-indexed in less time.
- Having a SEO friendly “optimized” URL structure also means that it can be easier for others to promote your site and content by sharing links on other websites and social media networks.
For example, a website visitor or customer may want to share information about services products that your business sells online. If the customer posts a back-link to the URL without using anchor text (the text that is linked with the URL; "click here" for example), the URL will already contain relevant keywords. These keywords can help to provide search engines and potential visitors and customers with more information about the page before they click on the link to visit the site.
Updating the URL structure of a website sooner, rather than later, can provide better short-term and improved long-term organic results.
As a customer, client, or website visitor shares a link that is not "user friendly", it's likely that part of the URL could be omitted by the user because it may appear to be unnecessary. Hundreds of independent studies have concluded that websites that use well organized, clean, and user friendly URLs that include keywords, perform better at Google and have a much higher (CTR) click through rate compared to those that don't.
The best time to make modifications to the url structure of a website is during the initial website design process or when redesigning the layout of an existing website. Keep in mind when a site is rebuilt, website design is changed, and/or migrated to a new platform, the URL structure is going to change. To ensure better long-term success, consider how links will be displayed to visitors and important non-human visitors like Googlebot
before the launching and/or promoting the new website or marketing an existing site.
As the URL structure of a website or section of a website is changed, renamed, and/or removed visitors will be presented with 404 errors. The best method to deflect the impact of the change in the URL structure is by using a 301 redirect. All websites will have results that differ, but remember that it’s important to have a well rounded SEO campaign, and do not just rely on having SEO friendly URLs as a complete internet marketing strategy.
Learn more about the benefits related to changing how URLs are generated and displayed to your website visitors!
Contact the internet marketing specialists
at Insyte Consulting Group today to ask questions and get more information about updating your website with SEO friendly URLs. If you are ready to make the change or have questions you want answers to, we can help you get started with the process of converting your website URLs today.