Professional website optimization enables effective achieving high rankings. A crucial on-site SEO optimization element is building user and robot friendly URLs. But how to define the “friendliness” of a link? What should its structure be? How does it look like? You’re only seconds away from learning it all – from today’s entry!
A friendly link – what is it?
The URL is one of the elements displayed in the search results returned for a specific keyword. We can see it between the website’s title and description on a SERP list.
A friendly URL is nothing but a simple and clear link, containing keywords referring to the content of a given sub-page and meaningful to human recipients. URL elements, arranged in a logical manner have substantially positive effect on the website, partially because they make it easier for both users and indexing crawlers to navigate through it.
Both user and crawl friendly URL should look like this:
An unfriendly, on the other hand, address looks like this:
What are the core features of a well-built, human-and-non-human-user-friendly-URL?
The best ones are accurately describe the content of the subpage linked, are memorable and easy to insert with a keyboard. The idea is that with a user-friendly link user can picture the page’s content beforehand. Conversely, wrongly built URLs among the search results are not trusted and a user is less likely to convert – i.e. click.
Also, from Google crawls’ perspective, following features also matter:
1. The correct structure
URL structure correctness consists in proper embedding of its elements and using appropriate separators. For instance, so-called special characters are a no-go. Diacritics are also banned, as they may cause problems with indexing addresses by the search engine. Instead for language-specific diacritics, use the closest related characters from Latin alphabet, for instance, instead for Polish “ą”, use “a”, instead of Spanish “ñ” use “n”, and so on.
- Page URL
The correct HTML document address should have the following structure:
The very first element is the website address – simply, the website domain. The next one is the parent directory, containing the product in question, followed by a user-friendly product name. Such address structure makes it easier for any user to navigate. However, there is a rule – too many sub-categories will generate too long address, and that’s not good either. Take that into account when optimizing the URLs.
- File path
Make sure that the filename included in the URL contains a keyword relevant to its contents. For images, the name should indicate what’s depicted, for example for the animation of a dog walking on a leash in GIF format, the correct URL would be, for example:
2. The separators
Application of appropriate separators is crucial for the URL clarity. Separation of individual words with hyphens (“-“) is considered best for readability and is also the Google’s favourite. With such characters it’s easier to give a teaser of a page’s content. Conversely, one should not use underscores (“_”) to separate individual words, as they have no real function and are treated as if there was no separator at all.
For example: website_optimization_service.com would be interpreted by a Google crawl as a single word: websiteoptimizationservice.com
3. SSL certificate implementation
Data privacy and safety is one of the top Google priorities. That’s why implementation of the SSL certificate – a security protocol for data stream encryption, preventing your website from being hacked – is a Google officially confirmed ranking factor. SSL-encrypted sites enjoy greater trust among users.
4. Proper link length
URL is one of the elements shown directly to the users both in the search results list and in the browser toolbar. Its recommended length is 115 characters max. If it’s much longer, then Google may refuse to index it.
5. Keywords in URLs
The correctly built internal URLs should contain the most important keywords reflecting the subpage’s contents. However, never overdo it with the number of keywords – focus on optimizing a single page for a single, most highlighted phrase, instead.
6. URL uniqueness
Each subpage in our website should have only one unique URL, associated with it. This is extremely important, as it prevents the content duplication. If one and the same page can be reached with several different URLs, even the most valuable content appears less attractive, as occurring in different places. Another downside is that users aiming at linking the content transfer thus the juice to several subpages instead of focusing on one.
The solution is a 301 redirect from an dummy address, potentially causing duplication, to the address that we mean to have indexed and reinforced. For example, https://www.site-address.com should redirect to www-free version:
If for some reason on-site URLs are altered, 301 redirects should be created automatically. It is very important to make sure whether the automatically created addresses aren’t already somewhere on our site – if there are, then a catch-22-like redirection loop can be implemented, preventing the user from ever reaching the landing page. Should such loop arise, most browsers will show a redirect loop error message, preventing the page from being crawled by Google’s robots.
Each URL that is on the site needs to be mentioned in the Sitemap file, too. Sitemap file consists of a list of addresses, serving as a guide for Google crawls, allowing them to navigate the site more smoothly, thus improving the indexing process. A correctly configured sitemap file is a fundamental on-site SEO process element.
Friendly URLs – what’s in it for me?
The correct URL structure is beneficial to our website, mostly by making it easier for indexing robots to crawl through it. The most important profits of friendly links include:
1. Better SEO
User and crawl-friendly URLs impact SEO positively. An appropriate content-relevant keyword placement increases the visibility of these phrases among SERPs and boost our organic, potentially converting traffic.
2. Higher CTR
A clear URL highlighting the most important key phrase can increase our CTR – a click-through rate. And the higher the page’s click-through rate is, the higher number of visitors to our site.
3. Good UX
User-friendly addresses, with their correct structure, impact your UX, too, making it way more pleasant to spend time on your website. Users are able to find interesting information quickly, at the same time getting the hang of the general site construction. Short and intuitive URLs with relevant keywords are much more attractive to users than long, complex links with suspicious-looking characters.
Mind that Google uses its machine learning tech to get the picture of the users’ behaviors. That’s why a good URL structure can positively influence your SERP rankings.
4. Higher backlink obtaining probability
Websites with user-friendly URLs are much more likely to be referred to on other, external websites. And such strong backlinks increase the Domain Authority and are a valuable source of traffic in its own respect.
Implementing a correct URL structure is crucial SEO-wise. Friendly links are those of a right length, with keywords reflecting to the page’s content and appropriately separated (with hyphens), as well unique and safe. Those features improve the site navigation for both users and indexing robots. User and crawl-friendly URLs are necessary for a quick information-finding, a process crucial, if your want to offer the users the information needed, in the simplest and most digestible form possible.