Improved URLs for Better SEO

How long should my URL be to get the most clicks?

URLs, web page name, SEO best practices

This topic of conversation comes up quite often around here.  How long should a URL be for it to get the most traffic?  Oftentimes, it seems like companies don’t put much thought into their URLs.  In fact, many times, they are just completely overlooked… the randomly generated numbers and characters created automatically when posting a new web page are left without a thought.  This is not a good thing.

What needs to be understood is that URLs are the building blocks of your website.  And if not done correctly, they can either make or break the traffic that is coming into your site.  SEO isn’t just about how many words of content you have on each page. Website and URL structure is equally important. Here are some tips to remember when creating new page URLs.

Remove Unnecessary Words

For optimal SEO, URL creators must be mindful of several things, including removing extra words in the URL.  If a word doesn’t add value, or is insignificant to the URL, take it out.  Think of it in terms of ‘every word costs you $100 and you only have a $600 to spend’. Make it short, sweet and to the point.  Make it readable and easy to decipher. But also make it something people will understand and trust.

For example, if you have a webpage about exercise and you have a page that is about, ‘the four exercises that helped me get flatter abs’ you don’t want to use that whole phrase in your URL.  You can say ‘four exercises for flatter abs’.  The shorter URL still offers a complete thought, just in a much shorter version.

Use Keywords

Keywords is another area that helps get your URL the most clicks.  Using native language – meaning the terms, phrases and keywords your customers are using to talk about your products – is essential to ranking high on SERPs (search engine results pages). You must be keenly in tune with the people purchasing your product and how they think.  Using the keywords preferred by your target audience conveys not only to your customers that you understand their needs, but also to the search engine that you are an expert in that subject area.  But make sure you don’t go overboard with them.  Keyword stuffing negatively impacts your results in the Google algorithm, as well as making your link look like spam.

Characters to Avoid Using in URLs

When creating your URLs it is important to hyphen when you have the option to separate words.  Hyphens increase readability and comprehension. Underscores are also acceptable, but definitely a secondary option. Be sure to double check your hyphens and underscores to ensure that they are not accidentally truncating your URL.

Avoid all of the following in your URLs

  1. Spaces
  2. Any other punctuation
  3. Special characters

Not only do those characters make reading the URL difficult, they are often not read correctly by web crawlers trying to index your site or not rendered correctly by the browser. Don’t create a URL doomed to fail.

Domains

To increase the chances of your site performing well, avoid subdomains (unless for language differences). A root domain would be example.com while a subdomain would be info.example.com. The subdomain is tracked separately from the root domain. It’s recommended to use subfolders, such as example.com/info instead.

Additionally, keep the site shallow.  Never go past two or three clicks deep into your site, meaning how many times a user needs to click through to a new page in order to get to the content they want.  Less is more when creating page levels. Not just for SEO, but also for user experience, keeping your site to a minimum number of clicks to get to the end content keeps your audience happy. Avoid having to go through too many category or index pages in order to get to the real content.

 

Match URLs and Page Titles

Matching the URL with the page title sets the right expectations. Having the URL, title and content all match the same topic builds trust with the user that they are going to exactly the right page they are looking for. This is important for your SEO because making sure your keywords are matching throughout all your page information ensures that search engines will be matching your correct page name (which has the same topic covered in the page content) to the user’s search. If they don’t match, this can increase your site’s bounce rate and people could avoid coming back to your site for resources.

Shorter IS better

A rule of thumb is, shorter is better.  A 50 – 60 character URL works well.  Don’t let it get to 100 characters or more.  It’s easier to remember, share and type in a shorter URL.

 

With these tips, it’s easy to create a URL that will be memorable for your users as well as help you rank higher with search engines. Afterall, easy tactics that will help increase your web traffic are always the goal!

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