Your Complete Guide


If you are a small business, you have probably heard of the term SEO, which means search engine optimization, but you might be thinking, how do you develop a strategy that works? There are many strategies out there, but three main components remain the same when dealing with SEO. The three main parts of a strategic SEO plan should always include technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO.

One of the most looked over parts of SEO falls under technical SEO, which is URL optimization. The goal is to optimize your site for search engines. URL optimization is the key component behind just delivering and indexing web pages into search engine result pages. All this talk might have your head spinning, so let’s break all of this down to the basics.


What are URLs?


A URL, also known as, Uniform Resource Locator, is simply described as a web address. A URL indicates the location of a web page, images, etc., by typically using long text. An URL usually locates the web page on the internet and identifies how the resource will be retrieved. Some possibilities would be HTTPS, HTTP, and many more. Every URL will have three parts: the protocol, address, and text, all separated by a character.


URL Types and Their Differences


There is not only one type of URL format because there are multiple uses when delivering content. Therefore, getting acquainted with the many different formats will only better educate you on choosing your URLs.

Absolute: When the user types in the complete web address into the browser, it will take them to the exact website.
HTTP: Non-Secure.
HTTPS: Secure.
WWW: ‘www’ is included in the text.
NON-WWW: ‘www’ is not included in the text.
RELATIVE: This does not include the domain, which causes the search engine to direct you to the same site where the URL shows.
DYNAMIC URL: a search on a website that is data-drive.
STATIC: URL is the same because it is not dynamically driven.
FRONT LOADED: at the beginning of the URL, keywords are added.


URLs and Their Importance to SEO


URLs have something called ‘crawlers’ or also known as search engine bots that go out and collect information to rank within the search engine results page. Formatted properly is what ultimately supports the search engine bots to do their job accurately. In addition, they can understand a web page’s content which helps search engines to rank URLs when specific search terms are used.

There is a problem when it comes to generic URLs. When a generic URL is used, it does not leave enough information for the bots or users searching until they are actually on the web page. This causes a time-consuming task for the bots and the users. Using URLs that are structured with keywords adds value in comparison to a generic URL. Using a generic URL will only have your web page lost in a pile of other irrelevant generic URLs which is far from your goal for providing SEO-friendly content.

If your goal is to make your website SEO friendly, URLs are essential to enhance a user’s search results. With that being said, making your URL easily readable for users and bots is essential. This way, it is easier for users to know what the page is about and tells the search bots how to properly rank the content in relation to keywords.


How do Search Engines Read Your URL?


Google, and among other major search engines, use something called a crawl budget which means there is a certain amount of pages that the bots will crawl over. If your site exceeds the budget, then the bot might not be able to crawl over every page of your site. This will negatively affect your search engine results. In addition, the structure and parameters of your URLs can affect your crawl budget, which can make it complicated for the bot to crawl on your site. Volume and time are two key factors why a bot might not be able to crawl completely over your site.


What are Static URLs, and How Do They Work?


The term static URL can be described simply as a site’s content, and the URL stays the same, making them simple to create. Static URLs can be used in WordPress, a content management system that makes it easy for you. When discussing SEO-friendly works, the URLs must be fixed because it’s a simple way for the bots to crawl and organize what that web page is about. Static URLs throw the guesswork out for a search engine because they will pick up the keywords and accurately put the search results in the right place.


What Are DynamicThen, makes, and How Do They Work?


Dynamic URLs are associated with text strings that have variables, and depending on the parameters of that variable, the server will then deliver it. The parameters can also show up within the URL or be generated by users. Dynamic URLs are commonly used when content is stored in a database and needs to show up when requested. An example would be when a user is on your site and searches for a specific term then the database will push out the term they are searching for with dynamic URLs. There is also the possibility that users receive different dynamic URLs but they display the same content. This can happen when the same terms are requested but from two different locations. Google has announced that it can crawl and organize dynamic URLs but it is still not as accurate as crawling static URLs.

Even though dynamic URLs seem great, they are discouraged when it comes to SEO-friendly content. Multiple content issues, limited keyword appearance opportunities and they dont exist until a user prompts them are all problems when using dynamic URLs for SEO purposes. All of these problems result in making it difficult for bots to crawl and identify content. There are many reasons why dynamic URLs affect SEO.


Crawl Budget: There are more variations of parameters when using dynamic URLs which causes a large volume of URLs for one piece of content. This can affect the time that bots can crawl across your web page, which affects the chances of ranking in search engines using keywords.
Relevance and Context: As discussed before, dynamic URLs contain many variables that some of these URLs lack the important information for the content which can bury the content and not used properly.
Loss of Keywords: When dynamic URLs are generated it is difficult to have control over the content that is being used so you lose the ability to strategically place keywords.
Unreadable: Dynamic URLs are not easily readable because they oftentimes include characters and it is difficult for a user or bot to recognize the content that the URL is linked to.
Long Length: The URL length is much longer because it needs to have the ability to generate against many different phrase possibilities. To be SEO friendly, it is recommended for URLs to be short and to the point for a quicker crawl for the bot.


Dynamic vs Static


If the goal for your site is to be SEO friendly then it would be smart to ditch dynamic URLs. The simple fact that dynamic URLs cause multiple contents affects the time a bot can crawl your site properly.


URL Optimization and Seo: Relevant Keywords in URLs


Keywords are, well, key. They are the whole basis of SEO and what makes it work. Adding those keywords into the URL will help users and bots to understand what your web page is about. Keywords also help your ranking on the search pages. Front loading is often used to describe a URL that has the keywords at the start of the URL, and this brings up the importance of placing your keywords. It’s important to use relevant and strategically placed keywords into your URL. Be careful to not place an excessive amount of keywords into your URL as Google will flag you. Keywords in your URLs are just another tactic to have your site categorized correctly by the bots.


Secure vs. Non-Secure


It’s been found that search engines prefer secure URLs which means their SSL certificate is accurately installed. If a non-secure URL is used, search engines are getting knowledgeable on how to detect users and are warning them to not go to the website. These warnings can be persuasive and make your potential audience to look elsewhere.


Short and to the Point


It’s essential to make sure your URLs are short and to the point so that they are user and bot-friendly. You don’t want to confuse them with what your content or web page is about because your URL is long-winded and contains unnecessary characters. This will also help showcase your relevant keywords so they are not lost in irrelevant terms and index your content correctly within your industry.


Using Canonical Tags to Prevent Duplicate Content


Duplicate content will slow the search engine bots down, affecting your ranking, but there is a way to direct the bots to the content source. Canonical tags contain digital marketers the tools to notify search engines of any duplicate content. They are used with HTML for a site page to use canonical tags, and you can self-reference.


Characters


Case sensitivity is not an issue when it comes to URLs, so save your time capitalizing your keywords. To provide an easily readable URL, it is ideal to use lower case letters.


Unfriendly URLs


Not all characters are safe to use, and they can affect your URL into becoming unfriendly. The characters to avoid using altogether would be ” < > # % { } | \ ^ ~ [ ] ` and empty spaces.


Changing a Site URL


It is important to avoid causing broken links, so follow the instructions below.
Edit the URL in your CMS. Then, make sure they are edited for the relevant pages and save!
Redirect the old URL to the new URL by putting in a permanent (301).
Test the old URL to make sure it redirects to the page with the new URL.
Google Search Console is a tool where you can request they use your new URL.
Update your sitemap.xml file.


Conclusion


URLs are a vital part of your website if your goal is to be SEO friendly and an element that should not be overlooked. This is a great step to reaching many potential customers, and it would be foolish not to take your time to implement your URLs correctly.

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