Understanding SEO Friendly URL Syntax Practices
Poor URL structure is a frequent SEO issue, one that can impair rankings, keep pages out of the search engine indexes, and suck ranking authority from your other pages or even the entire websites.
Some content management systems bake poor URL structures right into their websites. Lax rules can be a culprit, for example, not encoding spaces or special characters.
Meanwhile, some CMS platforms devise URLs using illegal characters that should not appear in addresses. Others generate multiple URLs for pages, creating duplicate content.
While it is true that search engines go to great lengths to read and index even the worst URLs, attention to URL management and optimization will provide both SEO and usability advantages.
Good URL Structure
A few years ago, Dr. Peter J. Meyers put together a cheat sheet on the anatomy of a URL. It’s a good one to keep handy.
- It is easy to read and understand. If I saw this address pasted into a blog or forum, I would likely click on it.
- It is SEO optimized with breadcrumb style keywords. Search engines look for keywords in URLs; it’s a known ranking factor. This layout, going from general to specific, is ideal for enterprise SEO.
- The URL includes its own anchor text. If this address were pasted into a blog or other web page as a link, that link would possess well-optimized anchor text.
Old style dynamic addresses are legal and acceptable, though they have drawbacks.
- They tend to be longer and difficult to read because they contain both parameter names plus values.
- Pairing parameter names with values adds extra words. This may dilute the SEO value derived from keywords within the URLs.
- This type of address may contain information better transmitted outside of the URL. A user ID, session ID, sort code, print code and many other possible parameters could create duplicate content, security or other issues.