URL Structure

Below the document title in any search result, you see the URL of the current document. The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or, in other words, a web address of the document is always displayed as a part of the search result in Google and other search engines, so you should improve the structure of your URLs as more as possible.

A typical URL contains:

  • Protocol identifiers
  • Subdomain (can be absent)
  • Domain Name
  • Top Level Domain
  • Specific web page that in the search result is a Requested Content

An example of the URL structure

Some URLs are short and easy, but commonly URLs contain multiple parameters which are used for creating filtered URLs to provide different views of the same set of items.

You can see parameters after the main part of the URL. The question symbol is the symbol of coming parameters.

An example of the URL structure with parameters

Some recommendations for improving the URLs structure:

Choose URLs that are easy for users and search engines to understand

Google is good at crawling all types of the URLs, but you should create Google-friendly URLs. As to visitors, they may be confused and even intimidated by extremely long and cryptic URLs, so you should create URLs that are easy for users to understand if you want people link to your content. Your URLs should be constructed logically and intelligible to humans.

Create a simple directory structure.

Use a directory structure that allows visitors easy know where they are on your website and that indicates the type of content users can find at that URL. Your URLs should be as simple as possible for both users and search engines.

Avoid “having deep nesting of subdirectories like “…/dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/page.html"” 1

Use subfolders and subdomains appropriately

If you don’t have a specific reason, it is usually better to set up your content within a subfolder instead of a subdomain.

An example of using subfolders and subdomains in the URL structure

Sub-domains are seen by Google as separate domains. In other words, blog.ezibeline.com and ezibeline.com are considered as different sites when they come to search engine authority. So if you use both versions of the URL:

An example of the URL versions

search engines could see your site as having duplicate content. To fix this problem, use a server-based 301 redirect for redirection one of those URLs into your preferred format.

Avoid having an access the same content from the root directory and subdomains.

Provide one version of a URL to reach content

If you have found that users are accessing the same your document through multiple URLs, choose one of those URLs as your preferred destination, and use redirects (301) to send traffic from other URLs to your preferred URL.

Use canonical URL

Instead redirecting, you can define a canonical URL for content that are available through multiple URLs. Indicate your preferred URL with the rel="canonical" link element that should be added to the HEAD section of the not preferred pages. As canonical, Google prefers HTTPS pages over equivalent HTTP ones.

An example of the canonical link element

Avoid:

An example of the canonical URL

Use words in URLs that are relevant to your content

Using words in URLs that are relevant to the content makes your URLs more users-friendly as help with navigating your website.

An example of using words in URLs

The first URL is easy to remember and understand; it helps users to make decision whether to connect to the content. The second URL is much less appealing to users; it doesn’t give any information about what content this page contains. Searchers prefer to click on the simple clear URL which they understand better.

Avoid:

Have keywords in your URLs

Having a keyword in your URL is an additional relevancy signal.

An example of using keywords in URLs

It is also helpful to have your keyword in the domain name as well as in your top level domain or subdomain names.

Avoid using excessive keywords in your URLs.

Use punctuation in your URLs

Using punctuation in your URLs is useful to Google. Use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) as search engines often read words with underscores as one word.

An example of using punctuation in URLs

Shorten URLs by cutting unnecessary parameters

Don’t use URLs that are both too long and unintelligible for users. In addition to be more convenient for remembering and typing by users, shorter URLs are less likely to be seen by search engines as keyword stuffing.

Avoid “using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs”. 1

Use a robots.txt file

Use a robots.txt file to block Googlebot's access to problematic URLs.

An example of the robots.txt file

You can also use the robots.txt file if you want Google or other search engines do not index some content on your website. Remember that robots.txt directives don’t prevent references to your URLs from other websites and your pages might be found and indexed from other places on the web. To completely stop URLs appearing in Google search results, use the robots.txt in combination with other URL blocking methods.

Avoid using the robots.txt file for canonicalization purposes.



References:

1. "Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide" 2010. 31 May 2015 <http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en/us/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf >

2. “Keep a simple URL structure” Google: Search Console Help. 2015. 12 June 2015 <https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76329?hl=en>

3. “Use canonical URLs” Google: Search Console Help. 2015. 14 June 2015 < https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139066?hl=en#2 >

4. “HTTPS” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 14 June 2015. 14 June 2015 < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTPS >

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