Search engines use a variety of tools to assess your website. They need to understand what the content is about to accurately supply their users with the best response to their queries.
Search engines will consider the content itself, the titles and subheadings and the internal links used.
But they will also look directly at the URL. This is an element of SEO that is often overlooked yet can dramatically impact your ability to rank on the first page of search engine results
What is a URL?
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a website address. One element of the URL is the domain, which signifies the website that the page is attached to. The remainder of the URL represents the specific page or post that this unique link is pointing towards.
Think of the domain as the postcode, showing the area in which the page sits. https://www.clickslice.co.uk/seo/.
Whereas the slug would be considered the front door number. Highlighting to the user the exact location they are currently accessing. https://www.clickslice.co.uk/seo/.
An SEO optimised URL is designed to work for both search engines and users. The best will generally be very short, include smart keywords, and always be secure.
A holistic approach to SEO does not focus on one particular element but instead considers a rounded approach. An SEO friendly URL is imperative to complete this and should always be considered when looking at both on-page and technical SEO strategies.
HTTPS Over HTTP
An SSL certificate provides your users and customers with the reassurance they need that your website is secure. When the SSL certificate is installed, the URL will look something like this: https://www.clickslice.co.uk/seo/.
Enabling an SSL certificate means that an encrypted connection will be established every time a browser contacts your website. So, your user’s information cannot be stolen, and their activity cannot be tracked.
Having a secure website verifies your identity to search engines. It legitimises your website, and therefore your company. Search engines see HTTPS as a site with integrity, so it is a crucial ranking factor, integral to solid SEO.
Short links, consisting of 2-4 easy to read words, are generally more attractive than those longer. Additionally, your URL should be no longer than 60 characters.
A consistent URL structure must be implemented throughout your website. This is not only for the benefit of search engines, but it will significantly improve user experience.
Stop words are words that do not provide any context or information to search engines. Stop words include terms such as ’a, the, an, but, what’.
Although it is thought that stop words make up around 25% of content on the internet today, they need to be used carefully when complying with the general rules of SEO.
Using stop words in your URL requires a careful balancing act.
On the one hand, the URL slug should be as concise as possible. It does not need to be grammatically perfect but should include the relevant keywords. A URL packed with stop words is going to be longer and more complicated.
However, the use of stop words will not cause search engines to downgrade your page. In fact, search engines such as Google pretty much ignore stop words. Often it will be the case that your URL will not be readable without the stop words. In this case, you should not omit.
So, wherever possible, remove the stop words. However, please do not remove them at the sacrifice of the slug making sense.
Your URL should contain at least one keyword that you want the webpage to rank for.
Although the requirements for excellent search engine rankings are ever-changing, consistent use of keywords when structuring the URL will only complement your SEO strategy.
However, be sure not to repeat keywords. It is tempting to believe that including the same word twice will boost your chances of ranking for this query. But this will not work.
The easier the URL is to read by humans, the easier it is for search engines.
The URL doesn’t need to match the page title exactly – it will generally be significantly shorter. However, make sure it represents the phrase you are trying to convey.
It is essential always to consider readability when choosing your keywords. It should be apparent to any person when they read your URL what the webpage is likely to contain. Hyphens should separate each word.
Some content management systems automatically generate a URL. If the user does not alter this, it will often consist of a random bunch of letters and numbers. Not only is this extremely damaging for the website rankings, but it also does not encourage users to click.
Your ideal URL will be simple yet compelling, accurately summarising the content that the reader should expect.
Special characters can also cause severe URL problems and often cause links to break – wherever possible, they should be removed.
Use All Lowercase
As with all things SEO, the topic of case sensitivity is much debated.
In some instances, it has been shown that case sensitivity is not relevant for URLs. However, using standardised lowercase text is considered the best practice. It is simpler for the user and machines to read.
Using all lowercase text will also massively help with preventing broken links. Both internal and external links are vital for excellent SEO on a website, and frequent 404 errors will cause massive problems for the relationship between your website and popular search engines.
Finally, using a mixture of upper and lower case has been shown to cause search engines to recognise two separate pages. Although this can be rectified, it means that your work will be viewed as duplicate content; even just for a short period. Search engines will then be reluctant to rank the page highly, preventing readers from accessing your valuable content.
Rocket Your Rankings with a Solid SEO Strategy
ClickSlice is an SEO consultancy, that specialise in boosting the search engine rankings of company websites. We take an individualistic approach to SEO and work with businesses to develop a plan that works best for their specific situation.
For more information on how we transform businesses through the power of organic internet traffic, contact ClickSlice today on 020 3287 3638 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.