SEO Friendly URLs Best Practices

While displaying search results, major search engines like Google and Bing assess and understand your content using a variety of factors or signals. The search algorithms used by Google rank content using over 200 ranking factors. None of the major search engines has confirmed that they use URL as a major ranking factor while ranking websites on its search engine results pages (SERPs).

But the list of Google’s 200 ranking factors for 2021 prepared by Backlinko suggests that the popular search engine considers the URLs while ranking content. While ranking content on its SERPs, Google considers URL length, URL path, URL string, and keyword in the URL as important ranking factors. That is why; you can easily boost your content’s search engine performance by creating SEO friendly URLs by following some simple best practices.

11 Best Practices You Must Follow to Create SEO Friendly URLs

1. Create Human Readable URLs

Before optimizing a URL for search engines, you need to ensure that the URL can be read, understood, and remembered by humans. While creating or customizing a URL, you must check if helps both humans and search engines to understand the nature of the content. Also, you must finetune the URL to make it compelling enough to persuade searchers to click on it on SERPs.

2. Keep the URLs Short

According to Backlinko.com, “Excessively long URLs may hurt a page’s search engine visibility. In fact, several industry studies have found that short URLs tend to have a slight edge in Google’s search results.” Hence, you must focus on reducing the length of the URL while posting content. You can easily optimize a URL for search engines by restricting its length to 50 to 60 characters.

3. Use Only Safe Characters

You can make a URL SEO-friendly only by using safe characters and avoiding unsafe characters. While forming a custom URL, you must remember that safe characters do not need encoding like unsafe characters. You can create an SEO-friendly URL by using alphanumeric characters, special characters, and reserved characters. But you must not include unsafe characters like #, %, {, },<, >, [, ], and / in the URL.

4. Keep the URL Structure Simple

Google recommends webmasters to keep the URL structure simple by using hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_). You can easily make a URL SEO-friendly by separating words using hyphens and avoiding underscores. Google further advises you to avoid including session ID in the URL and trim the unnecessary parameters in the URL. It is always important to implement the latest search engine guidelines related to URL structure.

5. Include the Primary Keyword in the URL

In 2016, Google’s John Muller revealed that keywords in the URL is a “very small ranking factor.” You can easily make a URL SEO-friendly by including the primary keyword. The keyword will help both humans and search engines to understand the nature of your content. But you must explore ways to include the keyword in the URL naturally and organically. At the same time, it is also important to keep the URL short by including only the primary keyword. Many digital marketers include two relevant keywords in the URL while optimizing it for search engines.

6. No Need to Remove Stop Words

Many webmasters find it easier to reduce the length of an URL by removing commonly uses stop words like a, an, and, the, but, for, and of. But you will impact the readability of the URL adversely by removing the stop words from the URL. The search engines ignore the stop words either partially or fully while indexing the content. But the humans sometimes find it difficult to understand the nature of the content when the URL does not contain specific stop words.

7. Keep the URLs Static

Many blogging platforms and content management systems (CMS) allow you to generate URLs dynamically according to specific search queries. Unlike static URLs, dynamic URLs are not stored in the web server. Also, the dynamic URLs often include parameters like &, ?, or =. These parameters increase the URL length and affect URL readability. That is why; you can easily make static URLs SEO friendly.

8. Use Only Lowercase Letters

You can easily create human-readable URLs by using both uppercase and lowercase characters. The new-age web servers treat the uppercase and lowercase characters in the URL identically. But some conventional web servers treat uppercase and lowercase characters in the URL differently. Hence, you can easily avoid 404 errors by using only lowercase characters in the URL.

9. Keep the URL Path Closer to Home Page

According to Backlinko.com, “A page closer to the homepage may get a slight authority boost vs. pages buried deep down in a site’s architecture.” You can keep the URL path closer to the home page by reducing the number of folders. It is always advisable to restrict the number of folders to two while optimizing the URL for search engines. In addition to improving the URL’s readability, the decrease in the number of folders will help you to keep the URL short.

10. Switch from HTTP to HTTPS

According to Google Search Central, “We’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.” You can easily make a URL SEO-friendly by switching from HTTP to HTTPS. HTTPS will further boost your website’s search engine performance by making searchers access a secure website through Google.

11. Assess the URL’s SEO-Friendliness

You can use a slew of online tools to assess if a particular URL is SEO-friendly or not. Some of these online tools help you to know if your URL is SEO-friendly. At the same time, the sophisticated online tools help you to create SEO friendly URLs by showing suggestions and recommendations. However, you must use multiple online tools to assess a URL’s SEO-friendliness accurately.

While assessing and ranking your content, Google uses URL length, URL path, URL string, and keyword in the URL as major ranking factors. That is why; your SEO strategy must focus on optimizing the URL for search engines while posting fresh content. You can easily create SEO friendly URLs by following some simple best practices while posting content.

Abhijit Panda

A Fun Loving Techie. Marketer by Profession. Passionate about Everything Digital.

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