Tips for Better SEO Pt 2 : Structure and Your URL

Structure and Your URL
Do you do a search and then as you skim your list of results, glance at the URL before clicking? For many users this is exactly what they do and if the URL is unintelligible, they often won’t choose that result even if the description is clear.

URL Naming
When your URL (Uniform Resource Locator) includes words that were also included in the query, that provides another opportunity for those words to appear in bold on the search results page, making your listing stand out further.

Being simple in your URL names implies a greater level of comfort in your users. They feel less is concealed when the URL says what they think they want rather than a random list of letters and numbers.

When creating links to URLs it is far easier to make a mistake if the URL is non-word like. There is much greater likelihood of having broken links due to mistyping, so reduce errors by including natural keywords in the URL.

Anchor Text
Anchor Text is the collection of words and phrases on your site which link to other pages. These are often found on the top, bottom and sides of your pages as menus. Each phrase is the front or anchor for a URL to link to that required information. If you use good quality keywords which relate well to the subject, search engines rate the link favourably.

An important facet of anchor text is the ability to improve your search engine rankings when other sites link to your site using your anchor text. Gaining the very best ratings from these appropriate links can occur when the linking site content is closely related to the pages of your site it linked to. When your ratings are high, your entire domain becomes more authoritative.

Dynamic and Static URLs
A static URL is the actual name given to a page which remains the same, can be typed in exactly to give the same result every time and is perfect for search engines to index. For example:

www.shopname.com.au/onlineshop/book.html is a static URL.

A dynamic URL is a URL created as the result of some operator or activity. In the previous example, it may be the result of putting �?book’ into a search box of an online shop. The URL which appears would not be that listed above, but something like:

www.shopname.com.au/search.html?search_item_id=&q=book&search.x=0&search.y=0&search=Submit

This URL only exists because a search query was entered. It will be different for every variety of search, even if the same page is returned for many different searches. This is the type of URL we do not ever want the search engines to index. If they do, the spiders can be caught in a loop of dynamic URLs which keep leading to the same pages, never allowing the search engines to trawl deeper into your site.

Directories
Have a simple directory. Keep the names of the directories relevant to their content: For example:

2009/web design/articles/keep-URLs-simple.html

Rather than dir1/dir2/dir3/keep-URLs-simple.html where dir1 = 2009, dir2 = web design, dir 3 = articles. No user is going to understand this and will find it impossible to navigate around. By being clear in your directory design, you will enable your user to trawl through your site looking for other items of interest as you have a clear set of repositories for someone who is interested.

A real life example based on the above directory issue occurred recently. A person watched a lifestyle type of TV show. The show was a rerun and the viewer wasn’t sure from when, but knew it was fairly recent (as in the last 2-3 years). The item they were interested in was a craft segment making crepe paper roses. So, based on a quality directory, the user went to:

www.lifestyletypeshowname/tvshowdirectory/YYYY/craft/crepe-paper-roses.html where YYYY = year of show

The searcher could directly go to each year for the directories involved instead of just trying to search on roses (which elicited about 1000 results on that site).

Final quick tips
Remembering the URL for linking etc is easier if the URL contains words that relate to the page.
Don’t use generic names in URLs like documentpage1.html and don’t stuff with keywords.
Remember the canonicalization issue – don’t dilute your rankings between the same pages. Always use the one method of getting to the same page.
Also, have content accessed through one path, not through root and sub domains.

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