Yes, How You Structure Your URLs Can Affect SEO

URL structure SEOWe talk about on, off, and technical SEO potential all the time. But one topic seems too often to be forgotten, and that is URL structure.

Let’s take a look at how the structure of your URLs can affect your SEO and what the best practices for URL structure are that will ensure you are in the best position possible.

How to Make Your URLs SEO-Friendly

Here are some high-level tips on how you can ensure you are doing your due diligence with the new pages and posts you create on your site:

  • Ensure your site is secure and HTTPS
  • Include your main keyword in the URL path
  • If your content is location specific, make sure that is also included
  • Include them under the correct parent pages or high-level pages, if applicable
    • Ex: www.site.com/products/women/shoes/blue instead of
      www.site.com/blue-womens-shoes
  • Include key phrases such as who, what, when, where, why to help search intent
  • Keep them short and concise
  • Don’t use numbers or special characters
  • Keep everything lowercase
  • Double-check your spelling
  • Use hyphens instead of spaces

Examining URL Structure of Different Sites

I decided to examine “cycling classes in San Francisco” to look at the URL structure for the top organic (non-local pack) results and see if any use the best practices:

The Good

These URLs all utilize the basics of a good URL, like including paths and parent pages for organization, and featuring optimal keywords related to the search query:

  • https://fitt.co/san-francisco/articles/cycling-spin-studios-san-francisco
  • https://www.soul-cycle.com/studios/ca-sanfrancisco-unionstreet/
  • https://www.groupon.com/local/san-francisco/spinning

The Not So Great

These pages, on the other hand, include extra characters, are a little lengthy, or could use some general clean up, but nevertheless still rank well:

  • https://classpass.com/search/san-francisco/cycling-classes/3quV4STG6c7
  • https://www.yelp.com/search?cflt=cyclingclasses&find_loc=San+Francisco%2C+CA
  • https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=best+spin+classes&find_loc=San+Francisco%2C+CA
  • https://www.7×7.com/32-unique-workout-studios-san-francisco-2639319186.html

Note: There were some homepages that were also included in the results, but since they weren’t associated with an induvial page on their site, it didn’t make sense to include them in these examples.

Have URLs You Want to Fix? Use 301 Redirects

If some of your main service or product pages could use some SEO overhaul, you can use redirects as a way to change the URL name and ensure that the new URLs don’t lead to 404s, or a loss in keyword positions. Follow these steps for URL change success:

  1. Research how redirects can be done on your website – it should be noted this will depend on which content management system you use. Depending on the platform you have, you may need the help of an experienced developer.
  2. Compile a list of the pages you wish to change, with the current URL in one column and a separate column for the URL path you wish to change to. Save this because you will need it later!
  3. Go to each page you want to update and change their URL paths in the page or site settings. Again, this will vary based on how your site was built.
  4. Implement your redirects based off the instructions you found in step 1, and if they seem too complicated, don’t try to do them yourself or you could end up crashing your site!
  5. Once the redirects are in place, use the list you made in step 2 to check each old URL to see if they properly redirected!
  6. As a final step, update your XML sitemap and update it in Google Search Console to signal Google that you have made changes to your pages.

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