SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs

If you don’t know it already, it is always better to recruit an SEO manager to seek help during the development stage of your site, especially when establishing a search-engine friendly URL structure. This way, you will avoid the need to perform hard-to-execute tweaks along the way.

What exactly is an SEO-friendly URL structure? According to experts, it should be straight forward and meaningful. This implies no confusing redirections, duplicate content with canonical URLs, and emphasize on the most important URLs. Not all URLs (and pages) within a website are created equal, and more critical pages should be accessible to search engines without difficulty. Here are some things you can do to establish an SEO-friendly URL structure:

  • Consolidate domains – as a default, search engines index two versions of your domain—a www and a non-www version. Consolidating them can mean any number of ways, but the most widely accepted structuring best practice is using a 301 redirect. This points one version to the other and vice versa. Alternatively, you may also specify a preferred version in your Google Webmaster tools, although this does have its downsides. This particular tactic takes care only about Google, and is restricted to root domains. Why is this important? Because some of your precious backlinks may be pointing to one or the other version, which significantly diminishes their value.
  • Stay away from dynamic, relative URLs. Dynamic URLs are ugly, awkward URLs that contain all kinds of different symbols, which don’t really make sense to human users. Static URLs, on the other hand, are better-looking URLs, which contain your keywords, and are therefore more user-friendly. When creating URLs, use hyphens instead of underscores, because underscored words are treated by search engines as a single world.
  • Use special tags to specify canonical URLs. Canonical tags help search engines decide on the canonical URL to use.