A fundamental aspect of managing your company’s website that is often overlooked is URL redirection management. Many marketers don’t recognize the importance of creating a search-friendly URL. In fact, they underestimate the impact that the right URL can have on their website’s search engine rankings (SERPs). The good news is that it’s easy to learn how to create a URL that reflects the latest best practices. If you’re ready to optimize your rankings, read our handy guide below.
Different Parts of a URL
In order to create a search-friendly URL, you’ll need to first develop an understanding of a URL’s anatomy. Every URL contains a number of distinct but interrelated components. For example, in the following URL, there are five separate parts:
Below, we’ve provided a quick overview of each of these parts.
- Protocol: Also called a scheme, this component communicates to web servers which protocol to use. The two most common examples are Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http://) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (https://).
- Subdomain: This is an optional component that represents a subdivision of the domain name. Subdomains are used to keep different parts of your site organized (e.g., “blog” in the above URL).
- Domain name: Also called second-level domain, this is essentially the name of your website (e.g., “companyname” in the above URL).
- Top-level domain (TLD): Signifies the country the website is targeting (.com is commonly associated with the US, .au for Australia, .uk for the UK, etc.) or the type of entity the website is associated with (e.g., organizations often use .org, governments use .gov, etc.).
- Subdirectory: An optional component that indicates the section of the website the visitor is on (e.g., “category” in the above URL).
- Path: Represents the exact location of the page and can be used to identify what the page is about (e.g., “nameofthepage” in the above URL).
How to Create a URL That’s Search Friendly
Now that we’ve covered the different parts of a URL, it’s time to learn how to create a URL that’s search engine-friendly. Take note of the following best practices to help improve your rankings:
1. Use the Page’s Target Keyword
To create a URL that outranks your competitors, you must ensure that it incorporates the primary keyword you’re targeting. After all, keywords are a crucial ranking factor that Google’s search engine algorithms take into account when crawling and scoring your website’s pages.
In order to determine the most appropriate keyword to target, you’ll first need to conduct thorough keyword research. Once you’ve worked out which keyword to target, you’ll need to work out the most effective way to incorporate it into the URL’s path.
2. Be Descriptive
Adding a target keyword to a URL takes careful consideration to get right — it’s not good enough to carelessly add it to the beginning of a URL’s path and hope for the best.
Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of a URL should be to support users and search engines alike to understand what to expect from a given page. That’s why a URL’s path should always be formulated to be user-friendly as well as easy for search engines to decipher. If you want your marketing campaign to succeed, you should also ensure that the URLs you create are memorable.
The easiest way to do this is to create a descriptive URL path that naturally incorporates the page’s target keyword. For example, if you’ve written an article with the target keyword “fashion trends 2020,” your URL should look something like, website.com/blog/best-fashion-trends-2020.
3. Ensure Your URL Is Concise
While your URL should be descriptive, be sure to keep it pithy. A URL that’s too wordy is cumbersome for users to read, type and copy. It also risks being perceived by Google as an attempt to keyword stuff (that is, using keywords in an artificial manner in an attempt to “game” Google’s algorithm).
One easy way to keep your URLs tight is to leave out “stop words.” Stop words describe commonly used words that search engines have been programmed to ignore, such as “the,” “a,” “an,” “of” and “in.” As you can see from our example URL above, the path is concise — it doesn’t contain the stop words “the” and “of.” While it’s grammatically correct to write “the-best-fashion-trends-of-2020,” removing the redundant stop words shortens the path while still retaining its meaning.
4. Create Static URLs
Static URLs, as represented by our example above, are considered best practice for creating search-friendly URLs. As Moz highlights, static URLs can significantly boost your SEO efforts and page views. They can lead to higher click-through rates in the SERPs and higher keyword prominence and relevancy, to name a few advantages.
In contrast, dynamic URLs can be problematic to your SEO. Dynamic URLs describe URLs with paths that appear like a string of nonsensical numbers and symbols. For example, website.com/category/?cid=837108. They are most common in e-commerce sites, where URLs are more likely to dynamically change depending on the preferences a user selects. Dynamic URLs are worth avoiding given that they lead to lower click-through rate in the SERPs and are more likely to lead to errors when copying and pasting them, among other disadvantages.
5. Be Aware of Other Common URL Faux Pas
There are a number of other faux pas you will need to steer clear of if you want to create a search-friendly URL. Below, we’ve listed the most crucial ones expert recommend avoiding:
- Using uppercase letters: Stick to using all lowercase letters.
- Using symbols: Leave out any symbols including exclamation marks, hash marks, asterisks and dollar signs.
- Using underscores to separate words: Hyphens are the only symbol that’s acceptable to use in a URL. Google reads them as spaces, while it reads underscores as part of the words that appear on either side of them.
How to Redirect a URL
If you want to conduct a simple domain redirect within the same domain (for example, from www.website.com/wrong-article-name to www.website.com/right-article-name) you can do this easily by yourself within your content management system (CMS). You may need to use a tool like the premium version of Yoast SEO WordPress plugin to get some support doing this.
However, if you want to conduct a more complex cross domain redirect from one domain to another, you will require more advanced support. For example, you may wish to migrate your website from an HTTP protocol to a more secure HTTPS protocol. Given that security is a feature that’s highly valued by both users and Google, HTTPS migration is considered highly beneficial for businesses to pursue.
Cross domain redirects also encompass redirecting from one subdomain to another (for example, subdomain1.website.com to subdomain2.website.com) or redirection from a domain apex to a subdomain (website.com to www.website.com). Here at EasyRedir, we can help your team manage cross domain redirects such as these.
These types of redirects take expertise as well as accuracy to get right. One tiny error has the potential to cause a 401 error that could have considerable consequences for your SEO efforts, search traffic, sales and marketing campaigns.
At EasyRedir, we’ve built a strong reputation as the go-to redirection tool that marketers and businesses can rely on for flawless URL redirects. We’ve already helped countless businesses to easily and correctly redirect their URLs and migrate their websites. If you want to ensure that your URL redirects are both error-free and trouble-free, try EasyRedir for free today.