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15 SEO Best Practices for URL Structures

Moz’s Rand Fishkin just released an amazing article about Structuring URLs. I will try to summarize the 15 SEO best practices for URL Structures, but I thoroughly recommend reading his full length article to get the most information about each of the best practice items.

This list was from his original post, so below are his 15 SEO best practices for URL structures:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

  • Use a single domain (or subdomain)
    • Keep all content on 1 domain (or if unavoidable, on a subdomain)
  • The more readable, the better
    • Common sense in SEO best practices for URL structures tells us if it is easier for users to read/understand a URL, then it will be for search engines as well
  • Use Keywords in URLs
    • Keywords give users an idea of what the page is about. It helps social sharing/viewing and serves as its own anchor text if none is given. Keywords in URLs also have a bearing on users clicking through from a search engine result, based on research.
  • Use the rel=Canonical tag if URLs have the same/duplicate content
    • If you have 2 pages on your site that contain similar content, placing a canonical tag will help avoid duplicate content issues (and will ultimately help you rank better for 1 page instead of competing for 2 pages on your site to rank well).
  • Exclude dynamic parameters
    • If your site appends tracking parameters or filtering options, you will want to be sure you have rules around how you want Google to manage those parameters.
  • Shorter URLs are better
    • Shorter URLs are more easily digestible and users prefer them when sharing.
  • Align URLs to page titles
    • This gives user a better insight into the content and also isn’t bad for SEO.
  • Don’t include unnecessary words
    • Including unnecessary words like “and”, “or”, “but”, etc. does nothing but make your URLs longer
  • Remove (or control) punctuation characters
    • Certain characters/punctuation clutters up URLs but they could also break some browsers, crawlers, etc.
  • Limit/avoid redirect trains
    • This is a usability issue as it affects page load time, but it is also frowned upon by search engines
  • Use fewer folders (thus having a shorter URL)
    • This has more to do with keeping your URL short than any specific usability issue
  • Avoid hashes in URLs
    • Hashes are typically used to link to content lower on the page, but they can also be used for tracking, so they are best avoided. Google also views these differently as developers can use this to dynamically load certain website content.
  • Watch out for common variants
    • Common variants refer to variations in your URLs. For instance, variations in capitalizations or trailing slashes can cause duplicate content.
  • Use hyphens (or underscores) to separate keywords
    • Hyphens are still preferred but search engines are now treating underscores similar to hyphens to separate words in URLs.
  • Don’t keyword stuff
    • Repeating keywords in your URL does not help your SEO rankings and could actually hurt your changes of earning click-throughs/rankings.