Anatomy and Optimisation of a URL

Anatomy and Optimisation of a URL

When it comes to SEO, the contents of a URL can make a huge difference between ranks in search results. To some people, that’s a given, but there are also a few surprises when it comes to which parts of the URL matter and which don’t.

To put it simply URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) are a way to make underlying IP addresses into a human-readable format for users browsing the web. The diagram above illustrates the “anatomy” of a URL.

In most cases, URLs generated by platforms by default (such as WordPress) aren’t ‘friendly’ URLs and likely include a string of numbers as opposed to readable text. While these URLs still serve their purpose, they are not necessarily recognisable from a human user point-of-view; for example:

https://www.soaronline.co.uk/?p=1234
https://www.soaronline.co.uk/seo-training-courses.html

The above 2 URLS don’t vary in length too considerably, and yet the second URL makes it quite clear to the user that the page is about SEO Training Courses.

How to Optimise Your URLS

Here are a few tips to making your URLs as SEO friendly as they can be

  1. Length – Don’t use unnecessary words in your URL just for the sake of SEO. Use as many characters as you need, but keep your URL accurate and relevant to the content of the page.
  2. Alphanumeric Characters Only – When it comes to a URL, uppercase and lowercase characters are treated differently, so try to keep all of your URLs in a lowercase format to avoid any potential duplicate pages being generated. Sticking to alphanumeric characters (123, abc or one of the few punctuations that are allowed such as / and ?) ensures that no characters are encoded into ASCII. For example, a space in a URL will be encoded as %20.
  3. Hyphens to Separate Words – Hyphens don’t fall into the above category and are instead treated as a separator when it comes to URLs. Spaces and underscores however are not treated as separators and therefore search engines will consider a string of words as one single word if you have used these to break them up rather than hyphens.
  4. Keywords – Keywords in URLs are important for user understanding and are one of many, many factors when it comes to SEO. But don’t overdo it! Refer to point 1 and avoid keyword stuffing at all costs!

All of the above points are a guideline and should be used in moderation and in conjunction with an overall SEO project plan. Ensure your URLs are relevant to the content of the page you are serving and offer the best user experience possible!