Many search engine optimization (SEO) tactics can enhance a website’s functionality. These tactics include link building, keyword research, optimized Meta data implementation and competitor analysis. Many people forget that it’s not just what a website’s content consists of, but the URL itself is a huge contributor to finding your audience and vice versa. It’s time to get the facts about URLs and the best ways to optimize them.
First off, there are two types of URLs. One is dynamic and the other static. A dynamic URL calls upon a database to populate page content, and is often associated with blogs and ecommerce sites. Static URLs maintain consistency throughout the sitemap and lack unusual characters and numbers. As you can imagine, static URLs are typically much easier for search engines to read because the URL contains actual words while a dynamic URL typically contains product or content ID codes instead of words. Web developers can make dynamic URLs more SEO friendly by employing URL rewrites on dynamic URLS, but this requires extra effort and time.
Search engines also read shorter URLs more easily. This means creating a website information architecture that seeks to limit the number of subdirectories. The more subdirectories (or directories within directories) listed in a URL, the longer the search engine takes to read. Here’s an example of a URL with a subdirectory: http://www.unidev.com/mobile-development/iphone-app-development.aspx. You’ll notice ‘mobile-directory’ is the subdirectory off of the root directory and ‘iphone-app-development’ is a page within that subdirectory. Keeping it short and sweet is beneficial to the search engines and any audience since they generate the terms which the search engine calls on.
As mentioned earlier, keywords are used to optimize website content, and they can also benefit URLs. As you create subdirectories through your website, consider the desired target audience for the website you develop, and imagine what they would type in a search query. Using the topic of a web page as the Meta title (web page title in HTML code), subdirectory title and listing the subject as often as possible in the text keeps consistency throughout the site and also increases any chances of turning up for a targeted keyword search. For instance, the Auctori website contains a “Modules” directory or web page. The URL ends with the word “modules”, and you can see it’s also listed many times throughout the page giving it more opportunities to show up in search.
Lastly, redirecting URLs can also hurt or help your website rankings. If a URL is live but no longer wanted, it’s important to redirect it. Although some link value will diminish because of a redirect, it won’t disappear. Having a redirect is much more positive than wasting a URL on a 404 error, which indicates to visitors the page is missing. After creating a 301 redirect for a particular page, only rely on that redirect for links outside your control. It is important to link any pages that previously linked to that page to the new page URL. This will help limit the number of pages hitting a 301 redirect.
If you have interest in learning more about URL optimization, contact The Net Impact.