Creating descriptive categories and file-names for the documents on your website can not only help you keep your site better organized, but it could also lead to better crawling of your documents by search engines. This creates easier, “friendlier” URLs for those that want to link to your content. Visitors may be intimidated by extremely long and cryptic URLs that contain few recognizable words.
URLs can be confusing and unfriendly. Users would have a hard time reciting complex URL’s from memory or creating a link to it. In addition, users may believe that a portion of the URL is unnecessary, especially if the URL shows many unrecognizable parameters. They might leave off a part, breaking the link.
Some users might link to your page using the URL of that page as the anchor text. If your URL contains relevant words, this provides users and search engines with more information about the page than an ID using numbers or an oddly named parameter would present.
URLs are displayed in search results
Finally, remember that the URL to a document is displayed as part of a search result in Google, below the document’s title and snippet. Like the title and snippet, words in the URL on the search result appear in bold if they appear in the user’s query. Note: to avoid Google from creating a snippet, use a well constructed Meta Description to enhance the title description.
Google is very adept at crawling all types of URL structures, even if they’re quite complex, but spending the time to make your URLs as simple as possible for both users and search engines can help. Some webmasters try to achieve this by rewriting their dynamic URLs to static ones; while Google is fine with this, we’d like to note that this is an advanced procedure and if done incorrectly, could cause crawling issues with your site. To learn even more about good URL structure, we recommend this Webmaster Help Center page on creating Google-friendly URLs.
Use words in URLs
URLs that contain words which are relevant to your site’s content and structure provide a much friendlier environment for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be more willing to link to them.
- Using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
- Choosing generic page names like “page1.html”
- Using excessive keywords like “football-cards-football-cards-footballcards.htm”
Create a simple directory structure
Use a directory structure that organizes your content clearly and makes it easy for visitors to know where they’re at on your site. Try using your directory structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL.
- Having deep nesting of sub-directories like “…/dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/dir5/dir6/page.html”
- Using directory names that have no relation to the content in them
Provide one version of a URL to reach a document
To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages. If you do find that people are accessing the same content through multiple URLs, setting up a “301 redirect” from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL is a good solution for this. You may also use canonical URL or use the rel=”canonical”link element if you cannot redirect.
- Having pages from subdomains and the root directory access the same content
– e.g. “domain.com/page.htm” and “sub.domain.com/page.htm”
- Using odd capitalization of URLs
-many users expect lower-case URLs and remember them better
Website development is greatly enhanced when developers adhere to Google’s rules for understanding URL’s.