An SEO-Friendly URL Structure Guide for 2022

SEO-Friendly URL Structure

Written by Jeremy Earle, JD

June 17, 2022

Find out what Google thinks about URL structure, and discover how to implement URL structure SEO rules for your business or publication.

As far as many people are concerned, URLs are nothing more than the addresses of websites. However, the structure of a URL matters when it comes to SEO.

Although the title and header parts may appear more significant, URLs may be useful for SEO success.

Do the URL’s Keywords Influence the Ranking of a Site?

To what extent are keywords in the URL considered when ranking a page? No one knows for sure because this is the reason.

Approach URL Keywords as a User in 2010

Using keywords in the pathname vs. keywords in the filename was the subject of a 2010 video by Google’s Matt Cutts.

In this case, it’s called:

This is the filename:

Cutts advocated tackling the issue from what a typical user would find most appealing.

According to him, people may find the multi-hyphenated form of the phrase to be spammy.

He subsequently confirmed that no mechanism penalizes repeated hyphens from the user’s standpoint.

“As far as search engine ranking goes, I’m not convinced that there’s that much difference between the two,” Cutts said, implying a user impact effect.

However, the user experience of having a lengthy filename loaded with hyphens is something to keep in mind. Many people may not click on it since they don’t like the sound of “dash” or “dash.”

Matt omitted to mention the importance of the ranking component.

It’s possible that he was trying to emphasize the importance of the user experience, rather than ranking factors, by emphasizing the importance of what people would click on in the SERPs.

2011: Domain-level keywords affect search engine rankings

As far back as 2011, he said that Google was considering reducing the impact of keywords on a domain’s ranking.

Keywords in domain names were also a ranking element, much as keywords in URLs.

As a result, they were undervalued in terms of their significance.

Similar to how he also reduced keywords in the URL, Matt downplays their ranking factor importance for other aspects connected to user experience and marketing.

In 2016, Google claimed that keywords are a minor ranking factor.

As John Mueller said at a Webmaster Central hangout in January 2016, keywords in the URL were a ranking factor in Google.

When asked about the value of this ranking element, he said, “It’s only a little one.”

As Mueller

puts it, “I feel that’s a pretty modest ranking component, and therefore it’s not something I’d attempt to push.” If you want to add keywords to your URL, it’s not worth the time or money you’ll have to put into reorganizing your site to do so.

“Very tiny” is in keeping with what Cutts has been saying all along — that other elements of a site are more vital to concentrate on.

Keywords are overrated in the URLs of websites in 2017.

The URL’s keyword placement was downplayed as a ranking criterion by Mueller.

He labeled them “overrated” in 2017.

Google overestimates the importance of keywords in URLs. To create URLs for users, You may not even see them if you’re using a mobile device. 8th of March, 2017

2018: Keywords in URLs Aren’t Important

As late as 2018, Mueller continues to dismiss keywords in URLs as a ranking determinant, claiming that the users themselves don’t even view them.

(I assume he’s referring to the fact that URLs are no longer visible in Google’s search results.)

There is no need to be concerned about keywords or other words in a URL. URLs aren’t always visible to users.

In other words, It’s John (@JohnMu) Friday, the 6th of December, 2018

According to Googler remarks, keywords in URLs may be a ranking influence, but it’s a very minimal one.

Is the Anchor Text in URL Links Using Keywords in Bare URLs?

According to some people, Google will utilize the URL’s keywords as anchor text if someone connects to your site with simply a link. This will help your site rank higher for those keywords.

Naked links are the name given to such a connection.

It’s a “naked” link since it’s a URL instead of an anchor text.

This is the URL in its bare form.

According to Mueller (How Google Handles Naked Links, September 2020), no anchor text information is provided via naked links (How Google Handles Naked Links).

As he put it: “From what I gather, our systems do attempt to detect this and say okay, this is simply a URL that is linked, it’s not that there is an important anchor here.

We can consider this a link, but we can’t utilize the anchor text for anything specific.

So in that sense, it’s a regular connection, but the context is missing.”

How Much Do SERPS Clicks on a URL Increase With the Use of Keywords?

Using keywords in the URL is an old SEO strategy that claims to increase a site’s click-through rate (CTR) (SERPs).

In the past, this may have been the case.

This is less true nowadays for sites that employ breadcrumb navigation or structured data in the breadcrumb navigation.

For sites that use breadcrumb navigation or structured data for breadcrumb navigation, Google returns results with the category name instead of the site name.

The URL’s keywords are not accessible to the user.

Google displays URLs with keywords even if the site does not employ breadcrumb navigation or breadcrumb structured data.

Google, on the other hand, does not draw attention to them.

This entry would have benefited if Google had highlighted the URL’s keywords, but this is not the case.

Exactly What Purpose Do Keywords Serve in an Internet Address?

Even if you don’t include keywords in your URL, you’ll still reap the advantages of your site visits.

The URL is a good place to include keywords that describe a website’s content.

If you link to a bare URL, those terms will appear in the search results, even if they don’t appear in the search results.

The following is an example of a URL that includes no further information:

Optimizing for the user is usually a good idea since Google constantly advocates making your sites beneficial to visitors.

This seems to align with what Google wants to see on its search results pages.

Guidelines for Creating a User-Friendly URL

Use Lowercase URLs Across the Board

Mixed-case URLs are generally not an issue for most servers.

As a result, you should standardize the appearance of your URLs.

Instead of “Like-That-Dot-Net” or “LIKE-THIS-DOT-BIZ,” most URLs are written in all lowercase “like-this-dot-com.”

Even if simply for the sake of conforming to user expectations, you should use lowercase letters wherever possible since they are more readable.

Using the same URL structure for all of your pages can assist in eliminating linking mistakes both inside and outside of the site.

Instead of using underscores, use hyphens.

When a URL is published as a bare link, it is impossible to detect underscores (_), thus always use hyphens (-).

You may see this by looking at this URL, which has an underscore at the end.

Be Consistent with Keywords When Creating Category URLs

Choosing the term with the highest traffic often results in a less relevant category name.

You may not always know what a category’s most popular keywords are.

Choose category names that accurately reflect the content on the pages under them.

When in doubt, use phrases that are most relevant to those searching for the content or items in those categories.

Reducing the Number of Empty Words in Your URL

The term /category/ may be added to the URL structure.

Using this URL format is a bad idea.

No reason should be given for using a URL structure such as /category/widget/.

/widget/ should be the name.

A better term than “blog” exists for indicating what viewers may anticipate from your site’s content; therefore, use that instead of “blog.”

Using the right words may help direct people to the information they’re searching for.

Make good use of them.

Ensure the Long-Term Sustainability of Your Website Addresses

Just though the article’s title includes a date, it doesn’t entail that the URL includes the date.

Using the same URL year after year is often a preferable idea when creating a “Top xxx for 20xx” sort of article.

So, instead of: example.com/widgets/top-widgets-2020, you may use:

Remove the year and use example.com/widgets/top-widgets.

As a result of altering the content and the title each year and maintaining the same URL, the prior year’s links will still work.

The new information may be found by clicking on the old links, which will take you to the old ones.

If you’d like, you may also keep a record of prior years.

That is all up to you.

Using a trailing slash or not

[/ is the symbol for a trailing slash.

W3C, the organization that sets web standards, suggests that the trailing “.slash” signifies a “container URI” for designating parent/child connections.

Resources may be identified using URIs, although they may or may not be accessible over the internet.)

Multiple pages in one category form a parent/child connection.

The parent category is “container,” and the websites included inside it are the category’s offspring documents.

Linked Data Platform Best Practices and Guidelines from the W3C asserts this:

“2.6 Container URIs should have a trailing slash.

The terminating slash in a container’s URI simplifies the usage of relative URIs when describing container membership with hierarchical URLs.”

To signify a directory or category section in HTML, the trailing slash must be followed by a slash.

A URL with and without the following slash are distinct websites, according to John Mueller of Google in 2017.

There are several ways that /widgets/ may refer to a directory or category area.

As a result, I’m posting this in the hopes that it clarifies the issue of URL trailing slashes. Tl;dr: The slash at the root/hostname is irrelevant; the slash elsewhere is pic.twitter.com/qjKebMa8V8

In other words, It’s John (@JohnMu) 19th of December, 2017

This comment from Google’s blog (To Slash or Not to Slash), published in 2010, was repeated in a tweet by Mueller in 2017.

However, even in that 2010 blog post, Google mostly left publishers to determine how to utilize trailing slashes.

Nonetheless, Google adheres to a standard trailing slash practice that reflects this perspective.

Google Is Open-Minded About the Best Practices for Trailing Slashes

Here’s an example of how Google encodes a URL:

The.html at the end of the URL indicates that this is a web page:

A category page has a URL with a trailing slash:

The following is the container for the calendar year 2020, which is the following:

Trailing slashes should be used at the end of the URL in category directories but not at the end of a web page’s URL, as shown in the examples above.

  • All Google URLs Without a Slash at the End

Although certain pieces of Google’s content may not meet this criterion.

Categories and pages that do not have a trailing slash are shown below.

  • The following URL is a category section’s URL:

You may get more information on Google Analytics by visiting this page: https://devguides.google.com/analytics/integrate

  • Here’s one more website:

https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/firebase/android

Because they don’t employ a trailing slash, all of those websites and category pages seem the same to the naked eye.

Google Allows for a Wide Range of Trailing Slash Formatting

As the instances above demonstrate, there are best practices to be followed.

Even if it’s considered best practice, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.

Google’s guidance on the usage of trailing slashes was varied as long back as 2010.

In Google’s words, “…you’re free to pick and choose what works best for you.”

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of trailing slash URLs is adhering to one method and preventing ambiguity.

Redirecting non-trailing slash URLs, for example, is made simpler as a result.

Short URLs for SEO

The subject of SEO-friendly URLs is more complex than it first seems, and there are several subtopics within it.

Despite Google’s trend away from doing so, popular search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo continue to display URLs in the SERPs.

URLs are an excellent method for a prospective site visitor to get an idea of what a certain page is all about.

It is possible to boost click-through rates by using URLs correctly.

Additionally, shorter URLs are simpler for users to remember and share.

Users spread the word about a website’s popularity by making it simple for others to share it.

If you’re concerned about your website’s search engine rankings, don’t overlook the importance of popularity.

An often-overlooked component of SEO, but one that may have a significant impact on your site’s search engine rankings, is the page URL.

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