The term ‘search engine optimization,’ SEO for short, covers a wide range of website practices. SEO aims to allow search engines to easily locate, ‘read’ and rank your website which results in it being easily found by your visitors or customers.
Website owners go to great lengths to produce search engine friendly content through articles and blogs. What they often overlook is one of the simplest aspects of enabling a search engine to find and ‘read’ the content of your website – the structure of the URL.
In this guide, we take a look at the structure of a good URL and how to name things in a search engine friendly way.
The Structure of a Good URL
URL stands for universal resource locator, and when websites first came into existence, this was how websites could be found. URLs were written by programmers and initially only used by programmers, resulting in URLs which were long and unreadable to the untrained user. Although websites have evolved a great deal since then, URLs have changed very little with many off-the-shelf web stores still using combinations of letters and numbers in their URLs instead of ‘readable’ phrases.
URLs such of these will not help a website be found by search engines or ranked by them. To allow this to happen, a URL needs to be created differently. The below URL will be used as an example to explain further:
The way URLs work is that the first section (usually HTTP://) is known as the protocol. The second section (store) is the subdomain. The next section (example) is the domain while the .com signals the top level domain. The next section (topics and subtopics) denotes the files or pathway names. The following section (descriptive-product-name) refers to the page while the final part (#top) is the named anchor.
SEO Friendly Naming Practices
To create a good URL which is SEO friendly, you need to try and incorporate your keywords into the URL. For example, a clothing retailer with the keyword summer dress might produce a URL which looks like this:
In this example, the search engines will pick up the word clothing, dresses, summer dress, and dress and rank the website accordingly. If the website had used a static URL which was written in the old way, it would have looked more like the following:
A search engine would have had a hard time working out what industry this website was catering for, let alone what the exact keywords were.
When it comes to naming things for the search engines, you not only need to think of what your website is about but also the words that your customer uses to find things on the internet. Although this might be quite straight forward in some industries such as clothing and dresses, it is more difficult in others. Take a buggy manufacturer, for example; their customers may search for buggy, pram or stroller to name just a few.
Whether you use a bespoke or off-the-shelf website, you need to ensure that it has dynamic URLs that allow you to create SEO friendly names and be sure to always follow a consistent approach.