How to Make SEO-friendly URLs that can Improve Your Search Engine Ranking & Attract Traffic

There is hardly any site owner who wouldn’t like to attract traffic to their site and improve their search engine ranking. Apart from creating useful content for readers, one other significantly important thing that can improve your search engine ranking and attract traffic to your site is SEO-friendly URLs which you can create for your posts or pages.

Under the following topics, this article discusses what URLs are and how to make SEO-friendly URLs that can improve your search engine ranking and attract traffic to your site:

  • But first, what is a URL?
  • Why are URLs important in SEO?
  • What is an SEO-friendly URL?
  • SEO-friendly URLs are one of the basic pillars of SEO
  • How to make an SEO-friendly URL—10 things to do
  • Conclusion

But first, what is a URL?

Some people use the terms “URL” and “domain name” interchangeably. A URL doesn’t mean the same thing as a domain name; there is actually a difference between the two.

URL is an acronym that means “Uniform Resource Locator”. A URL is an address to a location or resource on the Internet. For example, in the URL https://schmitt-trading.com/2021/04/25/seven-reasons-why-an-own-domain-is-so-important/, “schmitt-trading.com” is the domain name which consists of a top-level domain (TDL) popularly known as “.com”.

Generally, a URL consists of:

  • a protocol (example: “https” or “http”).
  • a domain name (which includes a top-level domain—TLD) like “.com”, “.org”, “.net”, etc.
  • a path that leads to a specific page, post, file, or resource on a site. A path is usually located after a hostname, and is separated by a forward slash: “/”.

Why are URLs important in SEO?

In addition to your tags, links to anchor texts, and the quality of your content, search engines use the URLs of your site or web pages to understand the details of your content and what they are all about.

What is an SEO-friendly URL?

An SEO-friendly URL is a URL that is optimized to help internet users and searchers find the type of content they want. URLs that are optimized for SEO tend to be concise, short, contain keywords, and provide a better user experience.

Although it is not a major ranking factor, the structure of a URL structure can help your post or page move to a higher position on search engine results pages (SERPs), improve your search engine ranking, and attract traffic to your site.

SEO-friendly URLs are one of the basic pillars of SEO

In fact, Backlinko had once stated that URLs are a significant ranking factor: In Google’s top 200 ranking factors, URL length was listed as number 46, while URL path was listed as number 47, and keyword usage in URL was listed as number 51. When you knit this information, you will conclude that URL optimization (creating SEO-friendly URLs) is quite a big deal.

How to make an SEO-friendly URL—10 things to do

1. If you can, select a top-level domain (TDL) that is the most popular, or highly popular

Search Engine Land’s infographic clearly shows the qualities of an SEO-friendly URL, and one important point highlighted is that it’s more ideal to select “.com” as a top-level domain (TDL). In essence, this means that it is more ideal to select a “.com” domain instead of a “.net”, “.biz,”, “.tel”, “.pro”, or other types of TDL.

If you already have a domain that isn’t “.com”, don’t waste your time placing too much emphasis on this point—the type of TDL; also, don’t assume that your site is doomed or will be doomed if you select/have selected a top-level domain that is different from “.com”.

However, it is important to note that the type of TDL you select, matters; therefore, consider “.com” whenever you want to select a TDL in the future. Although the type of TDL selected doesn’t directly impact a site’s search engine ranking, it does matter to an extent because most internet users and searchers tend to trust “.com” and probably “.org” more than the rest.

For whatever reason, the type of TDL a site uses can increase or decrease people’s trust in it—and this is huge! The more people trust your domain, the more it will impact your site’s overall SEO, improve your search engine ranking, and attract traffic to your site.

2. Choose https

Nowadays, internet security is a big issue. With the increasing rate of identity theft and cybercrime on the internet, internet users and searchers always want to be sure that they are surfing a secure domain.

As a result, it is highly recommended that you use “https” in your URLs instead of “http”. In case you don’t know the difference between “https” and “http”, “https” means “HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure” which is the secure version of “http”, while “http” just means “HyperText Transfer Protocol”—without the word “Secure”. This simply implies that information on a site that has “https” is encrypted and provides a significantly heightened level of security.

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Searchmetrics had reported that “https” is gaining more relevance, and becoming more of a ranking factor for Google: “https” increases the level of trust and conversion rates because of the encryption and extra security it gives to sites that have purchasing processes, or sensitive user information.

3. Choose lowercase letters and avoid uppercase letters

Although this is commonly practiced among most site owners, it is still important to mention it so that people who aren’t aware can become aware. Always choose lowercase letters because the use of uppercase letters potentially leads to 404 errors or redirects on some servers.

4. Choose hyphens instead of underscores

Spaces aren’t allowed in URLs; so if you want to put spaces in between words, you can use only one of two choices: hyphens ( – ), or underscores ( _ ); although you can choose between the two, it’s recommended that you should always use hyphens because that’s what Google prefers; therefore, be rest assured that hyphens are the best option.

5. Choose safe characters and avoid unsafe characters

It’s totally safe to use safe characters in your URL, but it’s not totally safe to use unsafe characters which you should avoid as much as possible because they are known to create usability issues and significant issues for browsers.

Examples of safe characters include alphanumeric characters such as: 0 to 9, a to z, mathematical symbols, brackets, punctuation marks; on the other hand, examples of unsafe characters include: ~ { } < > % ^ [ ] #.

6. Use one or two keywords

Although it is unlikely that placing keywords in your URL will get your posts or pages to the top of search engines, it can boost your ranking on search engine results pages. Therefore, it is important to include keywords in your URLs, but be mindful of how you use them so they won’t be viewed as spam, and get your site penalized. 

From a user’s or searcher’s point of view, it could be important to use keywords in a URL because, even if you don’t attach an anchor text to the URL, in a certain way the URL can still serve as the anchor text and instantly tell users what your content is about. This could encourage a lot of people to click on the URL even if it doesn’t have an anchor text.

According to information available on one of Search Engine Land’s pages, choose one or two keywords per URL; adding more won’t help to improve your ranking on Google and other search engines. In terms of positioning, it’s best to put your keywords at/toward the beginning of your URL.

7. Don’t repeat or stuff keywords

Repeating keywords or stuffing them in URLs could lead your site to disaster. Don’t stuff keywords unnecessarily in your URL. There are no rewards for repeating keywords; the practice could be viewed as an attempt to manipulate search engines and could diminish your site’s credibility in the eyes of users and search engines.

8. Use the least number of words you possibly can: if possible, use between three and five

In an interview, Google’s Matt Cutts had stated that URLs that consist of three, four, or five words are perfectly okay; but the longer they become, the lesser Google’s algorithm will weigh the words and just not give the URLs as much credit.

In summary, distill the essence of your content into anywhere between three to five words. Generally, keep the number of words to the least minimum, but do it in a way that can still enable users or readers to have an idea of what to expect when they clicking a URL.

9. Keep the length of your URL to the least number of characters you possibly can: if possible, use between 50 and 60 characters

Backlinko analyzed 11.8 million Google search results and found out that “Shorter URLs tend to rank better than long URLs”; therefore, the shorter a URL, the better it will improve your search engine ranking and attract traffic to your site.

Backlinko also analyzed one million Google search results and the statistics showed that, in order for a URL to perform as best as it possibly can in a search engine, the maximum number of characters in the URL should be kept to anywhere between 50 and 60 characters. Having up to 80 or more characters could negatively impact your search engine ranking and traffic.

10. Make your URL easily readable

There is a strong bond between a user-friendly URL and overall SEO. A readable URL will make it easy for users and search engines to understand the type of content that should be expected on a destination, post, or page. Therefore, do all you can to structure your URL in a way that can make it easily readable, even if it has some hyphens and forward slashes.

Structure your URL so that it can be simple, clear, and easily understood by users immediately or shortly after they glance at it for a few moments.

Conclusion

If you can create useful content, and make SEO-friendly URLs by using the points stated above, you will be able to improve your search engine ranking and attract more traffic to your site.

While the process of making SEO-friendly URLs might appear difficult, time-wasting, and tricky, it uses a lot of common-sense principles that you can easily practice, apply, and benefit from.

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