URLs Must be 100% Readable

URLs Must be 100% Readable


For many years webmasters have wanted search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing to show their most relevant content for any given search query. You love it when your page matches the topic of someone’s search; you hate it when they go to another website (that you know has low-quality content) instead of yours.

How do these websites rank higher than yours? It could be that they have a more visible significant keyword in their URLs. The first thing searchers see on your page is your URL. They might not read beyond the first few words on the page itself, but they sure are reading those first few words in your URL. That’s why it must be 100 percent readable by search engines—and human beings.

Many website owners have taken to using dynamic pages in order to insert keywords into URLs. Crazy, deceptively simple URLs like, “http://example.com/?page=article&articleID={keyword}” are not easily readable by search engines. If you can’t read every word in your URL, neither can search engines.

That’s a huge problem because search engines know that people read URLs before clicking them, to help them understand the content of a page. Search engines can't unscramble crazy, dynamically generated URLs, nor do they even try . Instead they just read the words in URLs , just like they read the content on your page. This helps them better understand your content, so they can connect you with your target market.

URLs are the first impression most searchers have of any given page, so they need to be 100 percent readable. That means simple, short URLs that make sense without context, because both search engines and people will read them before clicking on them. When you use dynamic URLs in your campaigns you are not doing this. If you care about getting more quality traffic from the engines then stop using dynamic/generated/scrambled/convoluted/redirected URLS - they're hurting your rankings, conversions and sales!

A great URL should represent exactly what’s on the page it leads to—that is if someone reads even part of it… which isn’t likely. If your visitor can’t quickly and easily understand what they are about to click into, then you will lose the trust of that person. They will either go to another site or not click at all; both situations end up hurting your rankings.

So how do you keep your cool URLs readable? Here are some simple rules: 1) Keep them short 2) Avoid dynamic URL parameters 3) Use relevant keywords 4) No redirects 5) Make it clear where one page ends and another begins 6) Avoid using session IDs

URLs are often overlooked as an SEO technique because they don't have much direct impact on rankings, but URLs remain very important for good user experience, helping search engines better understand what content is being presented via those URLs and for link juice (passing the power of links to other pages). If you care about getting more quality traffic from the engines, then stop using dynamic/generated/scrambled/convoluted/redirected URLS - they're hurting your rankings, conversions and sales!

1) Keep them short

Make sure your URLs are short enough that they don't get truncated in listings; try not to use too many words in your URL unless absolutely necessary. For instance an e-commerce site may want to include category descriptors like /dresses or /shoes & accessories but trying adding too much into it can make it harder for search engine bots to read. A product title would be better than dress#2376 if possible.

2) Avoid dynamic URL parameters

Don't use session IDs or dynamically generated URLs since no one will be able to guess them, not even search engine robots. This may seem like a small issue but using either of these can actually hurt your rankings - so don't do it!

3) Use relevant keywords

This may seem pretty obvious for some marketers but there are still many people out there who don't put their target keyword in the URL; this is crucial for helping Google better understand what the page represents and how best to rank it for that term. If you're creating landing pages specifically for PPC campaigns then you'll need to optimize the page title (and description meta tag), H1, content and image file names with the keyword too.

4) No redirects

Avoid using redirects which will lose you link juice, not to mention time - people may change their minds before clicking your link if there are too many hoops to jump through just to get it! A good example of this is when an affiliate marketer uses a number of different domains for the same affiliate link; every time the user clicks the link they go to a different domain, losing precious branding and search engine juice!

5) Make it clear where one page ends and another begins

Try to keep your URL structure as simple as possible with no extraneous words or characters. For example 'http://www.website.com/page.html' makes it clear that the page is being accessed through the domain, whereas 'http://www.website.com/go?to=page&from=home' does not - this might be great for making your link look cool but it confuses search engine bots which will hurt your rankings! Also try to avoid using session IDs in the URL or generating dynamic URLs with random strings of letters or numbers that are hard to tell apart.

6) Avoid using session IDs

Avoid using session IDs which needlessly complicate your URL and can often be used to trick search engines bots into thinking multiple pages on the site all address the same topic. This is why it's so important that your target keywords are included in the URL - if you simply must use a session ID try to make it as short as possible and easy to understand, for example 'http://www.website.com/page_id=123' would be much better than 'http://www.website.com/sess_1234abcd5678efghijk'

7) Use hyphens in category URLs

When linking to categories on product catalogs, affiliate sites or any type of directory it is important to use hyphens between words since underscores are often filtered out by search engines. This allows the search bots to more easily understand what your page represents and can help improve your rankings.

8) Avoid underscores in URLs

Avoid using underscores to separate words in your URLs since search engines cannot read them and will often drop them altogether, making the URL much longer and harder to read. This is why it's important to include relevant keywords in your URLs and keep them as short as possible.

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