The Importance of URL Structure For SEO (And How To Use It)

The Importance of URL Structure For SEO (And How To Use It)

What if someone from Google called you today and told you that your website would benefit from an SEO friendly URL structure? I’m sure that would get your attention.

Of course, you don’t need one more SEO problem to worry about. Particularly when your website has hundreds of URLs.

Here’s Google’s word on the importance of URLs for search engines (yes, they’re not just addresses to web destinations, they ‘tell’ search engines a lot more).

So, how important is the URL structure for SEO?

Like any other ranking factor, the URL structure will not change your SEO results on its own.

That said, it has its place in your holistic SEO strategy. If you give URL structure its due importance, your website will do better than equally good competitors who are still too lazy to work on URL structure.

This article will unpack everything you need to know about how to optimize your website’s URL structure so that you send the right signals to Google.

URL structure and user experience

A well thought out and optimized URL offers a better search experience to the end-user and empowers search engine bots to understand the ‘relevance’ and ‘context’ of the webpage.

Here’s an example of a URL that tells you (and the search engine) what you may expect on the webpage. Also note the close match between the title of the page and URL.

Better URL - Better User Experience for URL structure

Such semantically accurate URLs enhance user experience, as they either inform, or re-enforce a promise related to the ‘experience’ that awaits the reader when they click on the page link.

Note: Increasingly, Google is replacing URLs in search results with breadcrumb displays. This indicates how the search engine believes that the ‘URL area’ is a contributor to the web user’s search experience.

Best Phone for September URL Sample for URL structure

This also gives a bird’s eye view of the navigation structure of the website to the user.

The net result – superlative user experience, and that’s what Google wants you to help with.

Keyword optimization for URLs

A no-brainer, you’d think. Go ahead, do some Google searches, and see how messy URLs can appear, with seemingly no relation to their content!

Don’t make that mistake.

Matt Cutts has remarked on the relevance of keywords in a URL, and how it helps Google’s search algorithm relate the information to the title.

URL length

Here’s an example URL structure.

URL Smaple for URL structure

URL Structure Legend for URL structure

The right question, then, should be – how long should the “page” part of the URL be?

Let’s answer it in 3 ways.

#1. The Google answer

4-5 words long. Or, if your keyword is 3 words long, then keep the URL page length also at 3 words (because it will be an exact match).

Again, here is Matt Cutts’ advice on the subject.

Google Answer from Matt for URL structure

#2. The Quicksprout study

And it seems all the ‘good guys’ are following this, as proven by Quicksprout research.

Quicksprout Study for URL structure

The observation is that top rankers average between 35 and 40 characters for their URLs.

That doesn’t mean that longer URLs are a bad thing. It’s just that the algorithm is going to ignore most of the trailing words, and if your keywords are planted in the latter half, the bot may ignore that. And this can’t be good for your SEO.

#3. The Backlinko study

In research conducted to understand ranking factors, Backlinko found a clear correlation between short URLs and high ranks.

backlinco study for URL structure

Word separators for a URL

Hyphens? Underscores? Spaces? Any other character? Does it matter?

Yes, it matters. And thankfully, there’s no guesswork here, as Google itself recommends that you use hyphens to separate words.

Simple URL Structure for URL structure

And it’s easy to understand why. Spaces waste useful characters, and underscores aren’t as intuitive as a hyphen. Eventually, it boils down to what makes the most universal sense, and Google thinks it’s hyphens. So, you should too.

Dates in a URL

Don’t include them.

Why? You ask?

Well, there are two reasons.

  • When you add a date, let’s say, 18/9/2019 in the URL, that’s 9 characters used up (almost 25% of the total if we go by the ideal character count of 35 to 40 characters). Why waste an opportunity to tell the reader and the search engines what the page is about, wasting it on numbers?
  • Updating the web page won’t create the same impression anymore. Content updates are a key SEO strategy, particularly when you have some superstar pages ranking high already.

Imagine, now, the impression a web searcher will get if the URL reads something like ‘www.examplewebsite.com/category/1-1-2017/marketing-trends’ while you’ve actually updated it with the trends for 2019 and 2020!

The website’s navigation structure

The navigation structure of the website is closely tied to the URL structure. And I also mentioned how Google is replacing URLs with breadcrumbs.

Let’s take this example.

Website Navigation Structure for URL structure

Consider how the URL helps Google showcase the breadcrumbs ‘Blog’ and ‘Social Media’ alongside the page title.

For a web user interested in social media marketing in general, this tells him/her that this blog has a lot more content related to ‘social media’ and not only about ‘growth marketing via giveaways’.

While it’s difficult to quantify, this has a positive influence on organic Traffic. And it’s all tied to the core principle of ‘making search highly relevant and contextual’.

Dynamic URLs

The golden rule to follow is – nothing dynamic.

You have more to lose than gain. Here’s how;

  • They make the URL longer than it should be. Consider something like:

https://example.com/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=fb_campaign

  • Google may falsely believe you’re copying the content, if different versions of the same URL get indexed.
  • In general, dynamic URLs appear messy and fishy to a web user.

HTTPS

Now here’s a no-brainer. However, it’s so important I can’t resist underscoring it.

HTTPS.

That it’s a ranking signal, as confirmed by Google, should be reason enough for you to upgrade your website to HTTPS (which naturally reflects on the URLs too).

Parting thoughts

While revamping your website’s URL structure may not be a very stimulating proposition, the first step is to acknowledge that it’s important.

It’s going to be easier in the long run if you can, for all your new webpages, adopt these guidelines.

Also, plan out a timeline over which you will optimize the URL structure of your website, prioritizing pages that may be able to edge past competitors because of their better URL structure.

Guest author: Vishal Vivek is the co-founder and CEO of a well known SEO Company, Digital Marketing, Web Design and Social Media Marketing Company, SEO Corporation. From being an insomniac workaholic spending nights in the office to taking risky vacations in the Himalayas, Vishal has done it all and excelled at it. When he’s not reading corporate writing and organized crime novels, he’s usually found petting random stray animals.

The post The Importance of URL Structure For SEO (And How To Use It) appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

Grateful and Glad: What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For in 2019

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For in 2019

For centuries, American families and friends have come together on Thanksgiving Day to feast and give thanks for all of life’s beautiful gifts.

But I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again—Thanksgiving isn’t limited to one day in the TopRank Marketing realm. Every day, I see attitudes of gratitude.

To date in 2019, our team has typed the words “thank you” in Slack communications a whopping 7,737 times, and “thanks” 4,113 times.

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via GIPHY

As is TopRank Marketing tradition, I’ve asked team members to share what they’re most thankful for in work and in life. Here’s what many had to say.

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful for in 2019

Lee Odden

CEO

The B2B marketing industry brings together an amazing collection of disciplines, technologies and people from the analytical to the creative. When marketing works to connect people with the right solutions, it really can have a positive impact on the world.

I am very thankful to be a part of that industry and especially to be a part of the team at TopRank Marketing. The level of talent, focus and professionalism as well as awareness, empathy and curiosity amongst our team is something I am truly privileged to experience. The frequent kudos from our clients, influencers and community I hear about the work that our content, influence and search marketing teams are doing is a constant source of pride.

I appreciate the opportunity we have as a team to create meaningful experiences that inspire others in so many ways and look forward to our focus on creating impact in 2020. 

Annie LeumanAnnie Leuman

Content Strategist and Project Manager

I feel very thankful to work with amazing colleagues, clients, and mentors. I truly believe I work with and for some of the best marketers in the game, and we’re constantly elevating our skills. 

Whether it’s learning from each other or learning from experience, we’re growing our agency into a hyper-specialized team of marketers and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. I’m also thankful to TopRank for allowing me to spread my wings and take on new responsibilities. We’ve learned and grown a lot together in this past year and I can’t wait to see where we go in 2020.

Keith Widerski

Account Manager

I’m very thankful to be surrounded by the brightest minds in influencer and B2B marketing – and learning from these folks every single day. We have such an incredible team here at TopRank and I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of it. I cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store!  

Josh NiteJosh Nite

Senior Content Marketing Manager

I’m thankful for the team that makes sure the work gets done: All our project managers, Annie on task management, and Caitlin on team management. There’s nothing more draining at work than a pile of unprioritized, vague tasks. I love having order, organization and direction in my workday, and that’s all due to their hard work. 

On a personal note, I’m thankful for my wife, Jess. My best friend, best co-parent, and best partner in crime.

Ashley Zeckman

Senior Director of Digital Strategy

I’m thankful for many things, both big and small.

Professionally, I’m incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to walk in the doors of TopRank Marketing each morning, where I’m given the space to learn, challenge the status quo, and collaborate with an amazing team to create meaningful experiences for our clients, their customers, and our stellar group of influencers. 

I’d also like to give a special shout out to my mentors, clients and marketing friends, who have always given me something to aspire to, and provided me with so much more wisdom and direction than I would have ever been able to manage on my own. Thank you especially to Lee Odden, Ann Handley, Judy Tian, Garnor Morantes, Chris Penn, Tim Washer, Robert Rose, Michael Brenner, Cathy McPhillips, and Katie Martell. You’re all amazing. 

Lastly, I’m thankful for my amazing boyfriend who is always my number one supporter and my misfit troop of naughty dogs (and cat) that always keep life interesting. 

Birdie Zepeda

SEO Strategist

I am thankful to have joined the TopRank Marketing team in early 2019. I get the opportunity to work with so many amazing clients. I couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome to the Midwest. 

Jack Fitzpatrick

Influencer Marketing Strategist

I’m thankful for Instagram phasing out “likes”. I’ve had my fair share of “like-envy” in the past, and it is never a great feeling. It was a bold decision of their leadership to remove such an integral feature, and I’m interested to see if it fosters a healthier culture on the platform.

I’m also thankful for my newfound hobby of making bread. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but the bread-making process, in particular, makes me feel more in touch with nature and the food I create.

Tiffani AllenTiffani Allen

Associate Director of Search & Analytics

I’m especially thankful for the search team at TopRank Marketing. We have such amazing opportunities to work with awesome clients, and really push the boundaries when it comes to strategic search marketing that gets serious results.

But, of course, we couldn’t do any of it without the support of the entire TopRank team; a team of super smart marketers that we have the privilege of working with are a constant source of support and inspiration!

Elizabeth Williams

Senior Account Manager

I couldn’t ask for more from a workplace. I’ve been surrounded by such amazing mentors who have supported me and helped me stretch myself professionally. I think 2019 has been one of my biggest years for professional growth. Thank you!

In my personal life, I am most thankful this year for the lifestyle transformation our family has made. From prescriptions to essential oils and homemade tinctures, and from hefty meat-eaters, to organic, to vegetarians—and onward to veganism! I’m so thankful for the improved health and energy we’ve all gained! 

Debbie FriezDebbie Friez

Influencer Marketing Strategist

I’m thankful I have I fully embraced emojis this year, because they make my writing pop with visuals, which also makes me thankful that we have a fabulous design team at TopRank Marketing (because I would be an awful designer).

As I reflect back on the year, I am reminded how important it is to stop and smell the roses, and take time for work-life balance and professional development. I’m thankful for an organization that realizes this is a priority.

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via GIPHY

Lane EllisLane Ellis

Social and Content Marketing Manager

In 2019, I’m especially thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and associates.

Celebrating 18 years of marriage with my amazing wife Julie Ahasay tops my thankfulness list, along with the joy of having my parents Konnie and Bob in my life, as well as my astounding and always-inspiring 102-year-old grandma Lilly Haldorsen.

I’m thankful for over 35 years of using the Internet, which recently turned 50 as I wrote about here. I’m thankful to still be able to run, mountain bike, and ski the beautiful trails of Duluth, and for our three kind cats — ZuSu Pitts, Phineas Faustus, and Kukla Francis Oliver.

Now is the time to reach out and give the world and its endless opportunities a warm autumnal embrace, so here’s a big virtual hug to all of you I’m lucky enough to know, lovely family and friends. Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving From the TopRank Marketing Team

Thank you clients, influencers, followers, and team members for coming together to drive personal, professional, and brand success.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

The TopRank Marketing Team

TopRank Team Boat Day 2019

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