In the last post we promised to share about improving your page URL. To keep to that promise this article will go in depth on how to optimize your webpage URLs thus generate targeted organic traffic.
There secret of ranking on search engines is to inform engine spiders what your page is all about. The parameters to focus on when optimizing your webpages include:
- Page Title
- Body of your article
- Page URL.
Most webmasters put more emphasis on number 1 and 2 and forget that page ULR is also critical in search engine ranking. Apart from your URL adding SEO value to your site, it also ensures that your target audiences know right away what your posts are all about.
Not to forget, improperly designed page URLs can be seen as spam by search engine spiders. An example is a page link like this dr78736897798887932r7790dfrt890775b9.png.
Now that you know the importance of webpage URL in relation to search engine friendliness, let us get down to business.
Here is how to optimize your page URL for better SEO ranking:
1. Page URL should be short: Just the way it is recommended to have between 40 to 79 characters in your page title, there is a limit for page URL as well. SEO experts recommend that your URLs should not have more than 115 characters.
Researchers, who have been studying people’s click through rate on the internet, discovered that people click on short URLs more than they do long ones. In addition, it was noted that short URLs are shared more on social sites.
The disadvantage of long page URLs is that they sometime appear spammy. Furthermore, words contained in a long page URL are spread thus making the SEO value of the link to reduce.
It could be that you already have a big site with many webpages, do not worry about shortening your URLs if you haven’t since it can take you a long time correct them. Instead, work on making sure that all your page titles begin with your keywords.
Also, shorten all the page links you will post from now on.
WordPress is one of the best platforms to use when it comes to page URL friendliness. The word that wordpress uses to call page links is permalinks. With wordpress permalinks, you will be able to create unique URL’s hence boost your SEO value.
In order to turn on permalinks, log in into your wordpress admin area. Scroll down the navigation bar appearing on the left and place your cursor on setting then click on the permalinks option in the drop down menu.
Once you are on the permalinks setting page under common setting choose the Post name option. If you are still using the old version of wordpress, select the custom structure option and enter “/%postname%/”. This tag will help you to automatically shorten your page URL from your post title. You will also be able to shorten your page link manually to include only your keyword phrase.
2. Avoid too many queries in your URL: Depending on the design of your website or blog, there are times when URLs can have too many queries. Some of the queries you can find on a Page URL are “&” or “?”.
When there are too many queries within a link they diminish your SEO value.
Here is an example of a good webpage link:
It is recommended to avoid having too many queries like the link below since it is a bad page URL to have:
The problem of having too many queries is that it confuses search engines by creating loops. These loops will sometimes make search engine fail to crawl other webpages within your blog as it will keep crawling the page with many queries again and again.
3. Include keywords in your URL: This point will go hand in glove with creating short page URL. Earlier we said that wordpress is more friendly when it comes to SEO. Apart from the many wordpress SEO plugins you can use to rank, the permalink will help you optimize your webpages.
With the post name setting option, your page URL will include the words in the page title. To manually optimize your page you can delete some of the words and leave only your keywords within the page link.
For example, this article has the title How To Improve Your Page URL For Higher SEO Placement; my page URL will therefore be http://workonlinelegit.com/how-to-improve-your-page-URL-for-higher-SEO-placement/.
In order to optimize the page and improve my visitors experience I shortened it to read (http://workonlinelegit.com/improve-your-page-URL/). This will ensure that search engines know what my page is all about thus index and rank the webpage accordingly. Note that I have used very few words in my page URL.
According to Matt Cutts of Google, a URL with five words is good enough for SEO. But when you have more than five words within your page URL then google algorithm will give you less credit since it will spread the weight of those words.
Keyword based URLs are also more likely to be clicked on search engine result pages since people will know what to expect when they visit the links. Besides, when people go back to their bookmarks they will easily identify your page URL and also know the content your pages hold.
There are many sites out there that do not have keywords within their URLs and still rank high. This is an indication that a page URL without keywords will not affect your SEO value but it is definitely a missed chance to further tell search engines what to rank you for.
The one reason that a link without keywords can rank higher is when there are no other results to display. Otherwise, a webpage URL that contains keywords will rank higher than the one without.
4. Avoid creating too many subdomains: A subdomain is created in your CPanel where you add something before your main domain name. For instance, a link like http://store.yoursite.com means that store is a subdomain.
By the way, did you know that www is a subdomain to your site? Now you know.
To some extent, subdomains create a big challenge when it comes to SEO. As individual links, subdomains can rank very well but search engines view these links as different websites to your main site.
As much as it is ideal to configure your site using subdomains, note that one subdomain will not pass on link power to another subdomain within your site.
Here is the scenario:
In the SEO world, one of the most important elements that help your site/blog rank high is when other sites within your niche point back to your site using relevant keywords in their anchor text. This is also called back linking or link popularity.
Therefore, the more backlinks you have than your competitors the higher you will be positioned in search results. This is because search engines will assume that your content has more authority than your competition.
If you have a subdomain name called blog.yoursite.com which has very valuable content that people are linking back to, then that particular subdomain will rank high. But all that link juice will not contribute in raising the SEO value of another subdomain like shop.yoursite.com or page URL for that matter.
The best approach to creating optimized page URL is creating subdirectories and not individual directories. A page URL that reads yoursite.com/blog will be friendlier to search engines. It will tell engine spiders that the subdirectory blog is part of your site.
Therefore, any back links pointing to the subdirectory called blog will pass on that power to your entire blog or website.
Furthermore, subdirectories are familiar with most people hence your audience will know which site they are visiting and what page they are on. In order to improve user experience and also ensure your blog SEO profile is high avoid creating subdomains.
5. When creating subfolders make sure they don’t go beyond 3 levels: Now that you know that subdomains are not good for your overall SEO, it is advisable to create subfolders.
Sub folders appear between slashes. Below is an example of a page URL with subfolders:
In the above example the word post is the subfolder while my-page-title is a webpage within that subfolder.
It is advisable to create page URLs with few subfolders. The more subfolders you have the less value search engines place on webpages within deep subfolders. The recommended depth in regards to subfolders should not go beyond 3 levels deep.
If you find that you have no option but to have many subfolders, try and make sure that your important information doesn’t go beyond 2 subfolders deep. Below is a bad page URL to have:
In the above link, search engines will assume that the article named my-page-title is not so valuable since it is too far from your domain name which is yoursite.com.
Something you will note with using subfolders is that on Google analytics you will see how individual pages are attracting organic traffic.
6. Instead of using the underscore sign use hyphens: The best way of making sure that search engines realize the keywords within your page URL is adding hyphens. Ideally, hyphens act as spaces between your keywords thus engine robots will rank you accordingly.
There is also the option of using underscores between the words in your page URL. The only challenge posed with using underscore is that engine robots view them as characters. Therefore, words within your URL will appear like on single word which will make no sense to search engine thus diminishing the SEO value of your webpages.
On the other hand, hyphens are SEO friendly since search engines can easily tell which key terms you are seeking to rank for.
The fact that links come with a line below them, people will not be able to see the underscore sign. This is the other reason that makes hyphens more user friendly to your target audience.
For you to better understand the above example it is best to show you the difference between the two.
A bad page URL: www.yoursite.com/home_based_business_guidelines
A good page URL: www.yoursite.com/home-based-business-guidelines
Best practice in relation to creating optimized page URLs:
For those of you who are starting out, then you are lucky to have come across this article. It goes to show how research minded you are before plunging into any venture. The secret is to structure your site in an SEO friendly manner from the word go.
This is in terms of how your permalink will appear and also adding other plugins to help you optimize your site to the full. Go to back to point number 2 and read more on how to optimize using plugins.
If you already have your site up do not worry, there are content management systems you can use to restructure your site. Some CMS systems will enable you to alter your page URL structure and thus make them more SEO friendly.
The challenge that will come with changing your already existing page URL is redirecting. It is important to make certain you permanently redirect using “301 redirect”. This will involve redirecting from the old page URL to the fresh one.
Note: There is a downside when it comes to redirecting your visitors. You will probably lose some of the page link power and page positioning on search engines.
Considering the effects of changing the whole of your site structure, it is advisable to only change the permalink configuration and leave the rest of your site as it is. Page URL is easy to work on and will improve your overall SEO placement in the long run.
Bonus point: Since SEO goes hand in hand with social media marketing, it is important to show you how to optimize your social media user profile link. For example on LinkedIn the default link reads http://ke.linkedin.com/pub/your-name/31/704/67z.
It is recommended that you customize your link to be SEO friendly. This you can change by logging into your account and placing your cursor on profile then in the drop down menu click edit profile. Scroll down to your public profile link and on the right click edit.
On the right sidebar go to the second tab you will see customize your public profile URL. Click that and enter keywords that best describe your area of expertise.
You should also optimize your facebook and twitter URLs. By optimizing user profile links you will make it easier for people to find you thus generate more traffic to your site using social media sites.
Summary: Search engines especially Google get over 4 billion searchers each day. By simply optimizing your page URL you can easily channels lots of targeted traffic to your website or blog.
Make sure that your page URL is readable and usable. A plugin like WordPress SEO can help you configure your page title, page URL and description thus tell search engines exactly what to display on their search results. No wonder wordpress is the best platform to operate on.
Now you know what to do, get down to business and all the best in your SEO efforts.
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Author: Stephen Kavita