Having a SEO friendly URL structure is a well optimized site

SEO friendly URL structureWe all know the basic concept of SEO is doing a keyword research, on page SEO factors (content optimization) and off-page SEO factors (building backlinks). Besides there is more you should know to rank your site in search engines and one that impair your rankings is poor URL structure (on-page SEO factor).

Usually all your sites pages and posts will get crawled and indexed by Search engines, but is your websites URL is SEO friendly?

SEO friendly URL structure, what is it?

We all know URL (Uniform Resource Locator) that a page starts from HTTP, domain name with domain extension (.com .org .net) to file name and file extensions.

What actually is SEO friendly URL structure? An SEO friendly URL structure must follow these three factors.

  1. URL should be accessible: First thing to consider is to have your sites URLs open for search engines. So that they can crawl and index your pages.
  2. URL should be meaningful: URL should not contain numbers and symbols. Also URLs should have a keyword that you are optimizing for.
  3. URL should be straightforward: A single post in your site generates different URL which looks like duplicate content. Show importance for the right URL by specifying Canonical tag.

Check out the image below by SEOMOZ that explains a SEO friendly URL structure

SEO friendly URL structure

SEO friendly URL structure

Related: Importance of page speed for SEO

How to achieve a SEO friendly URL structure in my site?

Start with your domain versions (WWW and non-WWW)

This first step is only for main domain (http://blogtimenow.com) and not for those who have their site in sub-domains (http://blogtimenow.wordpress.com/).

A website will have two domain versions one WWW (ex: http://www.blogtimenow.com) and non-WWW (ex: http://blogtimenow.com). We prefer non-WWW version and it’s not that “I” prefer and “you” prefer. You must tell search engine about the preferred domain.

Use “301 redirect” to specify a preferred domain version.  If you are using wordpress you don’t need to worry about this. WordPress redirects to preferred domain automatically from version 2.3. Make sure you have set a preferred domain in wordpress general settings.

Related: HTTP status codes for SEO

Redirect WWW to non-WWW with .htaccess file

If you are still concerned then add the following code in your .htaccess file and change http://domain.com to your preferred domain version.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^domain\.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Also specify the preferred domain version in Goggle webmaster tools.

Avoid ugly URLs in your site (Dynamic URLs)

As we mentioned above all your site URLs are going to crawled and indexed by search engines, but to achieve a SEO friendly URL structure you must avoid ugly URLs.

What is pretty URLs? URLs that contain keywords in it are pretty URLs ex: http://blogtimenow.com/seo/having-a-seo-friendly-url-structure.

What is ugly URLs? URLs that contain numbers and symbols are ugly URLs ex: http://blogtimenow.com/?p=123

The pretty URLs are not just SEO friendly, but they are also user friendly. Since pretty URLs contain keywords in it people can find the topic of the page using the URL itself.

To have a pretty URLs in wordpress go to dashboard >> settings >> permalinks and change default to postname. Also don’t use underscores (_) in you URL names, rather use hyphens (-) because Google treats URLs with underscores as a single word.

No-index unwanted URLs using robots.txt

Robots.txt is a file in your site that tells search engines which pages to not crawl and index. Tell search engines not to index unwanted URLs like admin links and site’s other secure links. In wordpress; robots.txt gets automatically created and if you want to create a separate one you can find it here.

Create and submit an XML sitemap

Sitemap contains the list of site URLs and don’t get confused with XML sitemap and HTML sitemap. Both are same while XML sitemaps are designed for both humans and bots.

Submitting XML sitemaps helps your site pages to get indexed quickly. Search engines can pick the right URLs in your site to index.

To create sitemaps in wordpress use “Google XML sitemaps” and to submit your sitemap to Google go to webmaster tools and submit.

Specify canonical URL to prefer a right URL

This is one main thing you must consider when it comes to SEO friendly URL structure. In most of the CMS when you create a new post it will be placed under different URLs which looks like an internal duplicate content. To avoid this you must specify canonical URL tag <rel=”canonical”>. Sorry! First go and read this article about canonical URL for SEO that explains you all with duplicate content.

I will wait….

…………. Hope you got a clear idea of what canonical URL is.

Use sub folders and not sub domains

For some reasons most have their blogs as sub folders next to their domain name (ex: blog.blogtimenow.com). Search engines think this as a separate domain and doesn’t passes link juice. To distribute rank by passing the link juice to all your pages it is advised to use sub folders and not sub domains.

A well optimized must have SEO friendly URL structure which ranks well in search engines and gives better user experience.