3 Tips for URL Optimization
May 4, 2016
When building a successful website, there are quite a few bases to cover. Maybe you’ve already optimized your copy for search, designed a sleek layout, and put time into digital marketing research. These are all the right steps to take for a successful website, however, an often overlooked step is maximizing your uniform resource locator, more commonly known as URL.
You may find yourself asking, “Why should I care about my website’s URL? No one pays attention to those anyway.” The answer? Without proper optimization, your URL may come across looking spammy, and scare potential visitors from clicking your link. All of your hard work creating a website, diminished in a few seconds by a questionable URL.
Would you feel safe clicking on the below train wreck of a URL?
Optimizing your website’s URL deals with more than just the aesthetic appeal of a string of characters, it’s the main thoroughfare of the World Wide Web. Good, concise URL optimization can place you higher in a Google search and can make or break your click through rate. So, how does one better optimize URLs to drive traffic to a site? How can a minimalist presentation of a URL make for a more inviting search?
Here are some best practices to make sure your website is the first one people click on in a search engine.
1. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
A URL should be as brief, yet descriptive as possible. When the URL shows up in a search, you want to make the destination of the link as clear as possible. Visitors want to know exactly where they’re going. Anything too convoluted will look like spam, and no one wants to be tricked into visiting a malware site. Give the visitor a good idea of what to expect on the page.
For example, let’s say you’re in the market for a new pair of socks. You begin your hunt in Google and come across this link:
The URL above has a simple structure with clean pathways indicating exactly where you are on the website. Then, using the same words and searching for the same thing, you find a jumbled URL:
The first URL is straightforward and signifies a distinct area of the website. The second URL does not. The clean structure of the first link helps bring Happy Socks to the top of the Google search.
2. Utilize Your Keywords
The use of keywords is a crucial element of effective URL optimization. They let the visitor know what to expect when visiting a given site. For example, if I’m searching for a fun pair of socks, a big deciding factor when selecting a website is whether or not the words I’m using to search are displayed in the URL:
The first two results that come up include the words “fun”, “novelty”, and “socks” in the URL. These are all words that I used to start my search, thus, these are going to be the first two links that I click on. The more use of keywords, the better the chance your website has of ranking high in a search engine (and of a visitor clicking).
Additionally, links are often copied and pasted. Without keywords displayed in a URL, you again risk looking like spam.
3. Stay Away from Underscores!
It’s common to see underscores used in URLs, but what many people don’t know is that Google views the use of underscores as denoting one single word. For example, "really_cool_socks" reads as "reallycoolsocks" to Google. So, the probability of your site being shown in the search engine results is diminished when underscored. Pro tip: use hyphens, never underscores!
Overly complex URLs can be more of a burden on your website traffic than many would think. An unnecessarily long URL can have a significant effect on how your website appears – or doesn’t appear – in a search engine. Think about the parameters, size, structure, and character count of your URL. Then think about whether or not you’re getting as much traffic to your site as you could. There could very well be a correlation.
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