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Ideal URL Structure for SEO – Best Practices: Dos’ & Donts’

What is the best way to format your URLs when creating new pages on your site? Is there a best practice? Yes there are definitely a few things you should keep in mind for the ideal URL structure. Sameer Panjwani covers all the pointers you should consider when structuring your URLs. There are so dos’ and donts’, if you follow them, your site will be better prepared for SEO.

Transcript – 

Today, I am going to talk about URL structure and what’s an ideal URL structure for SEO. Now before I delve into that, the first question that people ask or a common confusion that I see people having is, if they have to come up with a blog or a section for content, should they host that on a sub-domain or should they host that on a sub folder?

So, let me answer that sub-domain versus sub-folder question. I think sub-folder is a better way to go because sub-folder is part of main domain and that’s how search engines treat it and any link equity or authority you have got and obtained for your main domain will transfer to the sub-folder. For a sub-domain the search engines will tend to treat it as an independent entity. It does not necessarily relate to your main domain. So, if given a choice, I would say a sub-folder is better than a sub-domain.

Now, once you got your contents’ structure right on the sub-folder, let’s get down figuring out what’s the best way to structure your URL. So. rule number one is try to keep the URL short if possible. I think shorter is better. Number two is whatever your title is, try to keep it as closely as closely relevant or if possible even contain the same words as the title of your page so that the search engines can even find its relevance. Point number three is include the key target keywords. So, if you have an article on how to negotiate a lease agreement, I would say you could have it as negotiate lease agreement (negotiate-lease-agreement).

Note that I avoided the stop words out there because I don’t think it is necessary and it reads better and shorter as well and I would believe that if you want separate words between in the URL you would always use a hyphen.  That’s a traditional practice. You can use an underscore but I personally prefer hyphen and many people have adopted that as a practice that hyphen is a good separator for as a replacement for a space.

Avoid punctuation’s, avoid apostrophes because those URLs get converted into special characters and those become unfriendly. There’re many e-commerce sites which have question mark followed by the parameters in the URL. You definitely, if possible, always go for a URL friendly navigation which means that non parameterized URL which is like if you would like to have if you have to choose now URL can have like shopping.php?parameter=shoesandcolours=red

I would say a better version would be a sub-folder called shoes either another sub-folder called red so it reads also better and it looks also better to a prospective user. Another reason why you want to include keywords in your URL is basically because when Google shows the results and the keyword that they are searching for is also mentioned in the URL, the word will be bolded or highlighted. So, it’s necessary to ensure that your target keywords are mentioned in the URL because they will then be highlighted in the URL and I mean it could be a slightly higher chance of click through because of the extra highlight benefit you’ve got in your URL.

So, just to summarize sub-domain versus sub-folder, sub-folder avoids stop words I don’t think they are necessary. You want as closely matching to your title as possible – include your relevant title words, hyphens as a separator and avoid parameters if possible, avoid punctuation marks. Now another thing you would see in WordPress blogs is that the default settings has dates or even another question that I am often asked is that should you include a date in your URL? I think not. I think that’s not a wise idea because I believe that every piece of content that you are doing right now instead of developing new pieces of content on a similar topic, I think it’s a better idea to update the older piece of content.

So, when you do update an older piece of content, you don’t want URL which is stuck to a older date. It doesn’t make sense. It would not read well also to a prospective user because even though in your blog post you mention it as updated but URL states otherwise. So, I think it makes much more sense to not to have a date in the URL so that you have a freedom to always update an older piece of content, keep it up-to-date and it looks fresh it doesn’t give the user a feeling of staleness in your content.

So, if I think it’s very much possible to keep that as a practice avoid dates in your URLs and definitely do not try to over stuff your keywords just for the sake of it. When I mention keeping your target keywords in your title, you want to mention it only once if it makes sense include it twice and reads well it’s fine but don’t over do it. So, yeah I think I have covered all the points and if you keep these points in mind, I think you should be safe and so yeah that’s the ideal way to have the perfect URL structure.

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Sameer Panjwani

Sameer Panjwani is the CEO & Founder of Mondovo.com, an online marketing toolset that helps you track your rankings, monitor your site stats and research your competitors'. A man of many talents, Sameer occasionally writes about social media marketing, content marketing and SEO. In his free time, he loves reading about the latest trends in SEO as well as spending time with his two little daughters.

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