In SEO, there are many factors that affect the bottom line of a search engine promotion. One of them is URL optimization.
There is a separate section on URL optimization in Google Help for Webmasters. In this post I will talk about what page web addresses are, about their types and the impact on SEO, how to properly optimize the URLs of pages on the site
URL or URL (Uniform Resource Locator) – A uniform resource locator. This is a unique set of symbols that makes it possible to identify all kinds of resources on the Internet (website pages, files, images, videos, and so on). It indicates the location of a particular site on the network and how you can access it.
What a web address consists of?
To unify all web addresses, a special standard has been created, thanks to which all urls have a simple and understandable path to storing the file.
The symbols that we see in the address bar are the URL. The structure of any URL looks like this:
The structure must use <schema> and <host>, other parts are optional.
Scheme – data transfer protocol. There are a huge number of protocols, but most often these are:
- FTP: // (File Transfer Protocol) provides remote access to hosting, data transfer from the server to the user’s device and vice versa;
- HTTP: // (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) – Hypertext Transfer Protocol is designed to transport arbitrary data (initially, in HTML format).
- HTTPS: // (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is an HTTP protocol that works with SSL and TLS transport mechanisms to increase security.
- SMTP: // (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) – protocol for transferring mail in TCP / IP networks.
Login: password – name and password to log into the account. Not used for HTTP / HTTPS protocols. Usually used for FTP (ftp: // name: email@example.com).
Host – the domain name of the site. The brand name is often used, for example netpeak.ua. The IP address (188.8.131.52) can also be used, but now it is used very rarely, since the IP is more difficult to remember.
Port – a constituent part of a web address, a numeric identifier of a program or process that allows access to resources at the specified IP address. For example, port 80 is assigned to the http server, and 443 to the https server. That is, to connect to the web server, we need to know the computer’s IP address and port. In turn, in order for the web server to transfer data to our computer, it needs to be provided with the IP and port of our computer in order to receive a response from the server, and then process the data.
The URL path is the address where the resource or file is located on the web server. For example, at https: // fastseosacramento / services / web-design / you can understand that the services of the “web-design” category are located in the “Services” directory.
Parameters are special data that the browser tells the web server. As a rule, parameters are specified after the “?” and are separated by “&”. Everything that comes before the interrogative is the main URL, after that there are additional parameters. https://site.com/cat332t1.html?sort_direction=desc&sort_by=price_desc
Anchor is a kind of bookmark on a page that directs the user to a specific part of the page (tagged code snippet). Implemented using the “#” symbol: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URL#Syntax.
Impact of URLs on SEO
Website promotion is influenced by many factors that help to achieve the necessary results in site ranking.
All things being equal, a properly optimized page URL gives an advantage over sites where the URL is generated by the CMS system.
The relevance of an optimized URL to SEO depends on query frequency and competition. As a rule, the main sections of the site are promoted by high-frequency queries, URL optimization is not strongly reflected in them. But for low-frequency queries, well-formed web addresses are important and significantly help in ranking the site.
Types of URLs
There are two types of URLs: static and dynamic.
A static URL is a permanent address of web pages that does not contain additional parameters and does not change over time (or changes, but very rarely): https://serpstat.com/ru/blog/novie-vozmozhnosti-iyunskie-obnovleniya-serpstat/ …
A dynamic URL is a web page address that is generated in response to a specific user request.
In dynamic web addresses, there are separators in the form of characters “?”, “=”, “&”. After these separators, additional page settings are displayed. Dynamic URLs are usually formed after choosing filters, sorting products, site search, and more.
What these pages look like:
Dynamic URLs have their drawbacks:
- difficult to remember;
- CTR is lower than static;
- they do not include keywords;
- users do not understand what content will be on the page;
- there are difficulties when copying – they can be cut off.
URL and rules for their design
Search engines recommend using human-readable URLs, also known as friendly URLs. These are the addresses of the pages that give an understanding to the user and search bots what information can be found on the link. The English term CNC (human-readable url – SEF URL (search engine friendly url).
To create friendly URLs, you need to follow these generally accepted rules:
- all punctuation marks and spaces should be replaced with a hyphen. If the CMS system uses underscores, then leave this option;
- two or more hyphens or underscores in a row must be replaced with one hyphen;
- if the “-” symbol appears at the beginning or at the end of the URL, it must be removed.
- URL should not contain uppercase letters, only lowercase. URLs are case sensitive.
- short URLs are recommended.
Among webmasters, it is customary to use no more than 3-5 words in an address. Less is better. Long URLs are truncated in SERPs, which reduces keyword weight. They are also inconvenient for users, as they are hard to remember and complicate site navigation. The exception is news sites, where URLs are often more than three words long.
- page nesting level. The structure of the URL should follow the structure of the site itself, but this is not always useful if the pages are 4-5 or more clicks from the main page. In such cases, it is necessary to reduce the nesting level by hiding intermediate partitions;
- using the “#” character in the URL;
- search engines ignore the parts of the URL that come after the hashtag. This is why they can be used to improve user navigation. Typically, the hash symbol is used on article pages and one-page sites to create an anchor menu;
- at the end of the URL to use “.html / .php” or the right slash “/”? These options do not affect ranking and indexing. Therefore, you can use both options, but remember, the shorter the URL, the better, so I recommend using the right slash.
Formation of the optimal URL structure for different types of pages
One of the frequently asked questions about internal SEO is about the correct URL structure. Let’s take an example of online stores and consider different options for the logic of building a URL structure.
- Section / category page. Everything is simple here, since the domain is immediately followed by the section / category page: https://site.ua/category1/.
- Subcategory page. Let’s consider two commonly used options:
repeat the site structure: https://site.ua/category1/subcategory1/subcategory2/subcategory3/;
remove intermediate folders in the URL: https://site.ua/category1/subcategory3/;
- Product card page.
still keep the page hierarchy by adding a product card to the URL: https://site.ua/category1/subcategory1/subcategory2/product/
- you can show search robots the structure of the site and its content, which will have a positive effect on indexing;
- you can track traffic in analytics, as you can see from which section / category the user came;
- users immediately understand which section of the site they are in – it is easier for them to navigate the site.
- a long URL reduces the weight of keywords in the web address;
- some CMS systems do not have the ability to create additional sections / subcategories;
- there is a high probability of duplicate pages. For example, one product can be in two categories. This results in duplicate pages. For example, the iPhone XS can be located in several sections at once: https://site.com.ua/smarfony/iphonexs/; https://site.com.ua/smarfony/apple/iphonexs/.
Another option is not to tie the product card to a specific category and store everything in the root of the site: https://site.ua/product/.
- products are not assigned to pages of certain categories, which excludes the possibility of duplicate pages;
- increasing the weight of keywords in the URL on a specific section;
- optimal length of the web address, by excluding intermediate categories / subcategories.
- not every content management system has the ability to remove unnecessary URL folders;
- there is no way to track traffic in analytics: this way the product will not be assigned to a specific section / category.
When should you use the first option, and when the second? It all depends on the subject matter and capabilities of the site. If this is a small online store in which product cards are assigned to a specific section / subcategory, then the first one can be used.
I recommend the second one in the case when the product can belong to different categories. Products will not be assigned to categories and thus the problem of duplicate pages can be solved.
Common mistakes when working with URL
Gross errors when working with URL:
- changing the url without a 301 redirect. If you are thinking of changing or have already created new page addresses, you need to set up a 301 redirect so as not to duplicate pages. The same applies to other versions of the site (with www, http and https, small and large case, and so on);
- different URLs, but the same content content. For example, two filter options such as color and size. The visitor can filter products by color and then by size, or vice versa, by size and color. It is important to follow the same URL generation logic for filter pages to avoid a huge amount of duplicate content.
Recommendations for optimizing addresses:
- the shortest URL possible;
- do not use parameters if possible. URL parameters make it longer, can create problems with duplicate content, and are just unreadable for the user;
- no spam. Using keywords in the URL will help your site rank slightly better. But do not abuse them in the URL, otherwise the search engine may think that the site uses spam promotion methods.
- A URL is the location of a specific website, page, or file on the Internet.
- URL is a ranking factor, but not one of the most important, don’t get too hung up on them.
- In the CIS segment, I recommend using transliteration, not Cyrillic.
- Make URLs for users. With their help, a person, without going to the page, will immediately see what content is on it.
- Form the URL structure depending on the type of your site in order to avoid further improvements.
- Before you optimize your URL, be sure to check the recommendations of the search engines you are promoting.