How to Optimize URLs for Humans and Search Engines?

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SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is something that shouldn’t be ignored if you want to get great amount of search engine traffic. It includes a set of strategies that are implemented both onsite and off site in order to improve website’s visibility in search engines. When it comes to Onsite SEO (Popularly known as On-page SEO), URL optimization is one of the biggest factors which should not be missed.

Let’s get to know what actually the URL is?

URL which stands for Uniform Resource Locator, is an address to locate a resource available on the internet. It is in the form of human readable text that replaces IP addresses that computer systems use to communicate with server.

I mean actually the website’s actual links are in the form of numbers something like 192.68.52.1 and these are mapped to some text based URL to make it readable.

Basic URL structures:

http://www.example.com/category/sub-category/page-name

or 

http://www.example.com/category/page-name

or 

http://www.example.com/page-name

Let’s understand the elements of URL

http: It stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol and it is a stateless protocol and it is the most used data transfer protocol over world wide web. [http://]

P.S. Recently https has been implemented which is more secure than http.

www: It stands for World Wide Web and it is an information system of interlinked hypertext documents that are accessed via the Internet. It has also commonly become known simply as the Web. [www] (Source: Wikipedia)

Domain: It is the most important part of URL. It is actually the name of a website such as techtricksworld.com is the domain name for this blog.

Domain is subject to availability which means one domain can be used by only one owner. So as techtricksworld.com is a domain registered with my name already so no one else can register it. [example.com]

TLD: It stands for Top Level Domain which can be either .com, .net, .info, .in, .org, .us and so on. [.com]

Subdirectory: This is actually a folder in which files are stored on the server. Files are even can be placed directly on the root. It is not important have subdirectory always, you can have it or not as per your choice. [www.example.com/category/page-name]

File Name: File name is part of the URL which comes at the end and it actually locates the main file or page. [www.example.com/category/page-name]

Now you are having a better insight about what actually the URL is and what are the elements of it.

Now when it comes to optimization of URLs, you cannot change anything in the primary stuff http://www and it will always be same so the optimization can only be done for the elements come after these.

Here are the ways to optimize your site’s URL for search engines and Humans:

url optimization

1. www Vs non www

You can use any kind of URLs either with www or without www but make sure that your blog should always open on one address.

There are many website owners missed to fix this issue and due to this when you type www.exaple.com then site will open with www and if you type only example.com then it will open without www.

Don’t get confused!

This is called as canonical issue and Google consider both www.example.com and example.com as separate site thus duplicate content issue can arise. It needs to be fixed in a way that even you type with www or without www; site should always open with the address you have fixed for it. Suppose you have set as www.example.com then either you type in your browser with www or without www website will always open as www.example.com.

This is also an important part of URL optimization because canonical issue is really bad as per SEO guidelines.

2. Choose a good Domain

The first element comes after http://www is domain which needs to be selected wisely because it cannot be changed later. You should keep these things in mind while choosing the domain:

1. Try to choose small and memorable domain name.

2. In the past, domains based on keywords worked well such as com or buycheapphones.com (domains are just used for example) but after Google’s EMD (Exact Matched Domain) update, things gone changed and keyword domain lost its value. Thus the good practise is to use a brandable domain name which can be remembered easily. Even if you want to keep your domain on keyword base then use either LSI (Latest Semantic Indexing) words or put any one word from keywords. Don’t just make your keywords as domain.

3. Choose TLD as per your business. Suppose your business is local in India then choosing .in domains will have advantage. If you are getting a domain for any organisation, .org will be better. Though .com domains are most preferable ones. Thus, if you don’t have any specific requirements then choose .com domain without any second thought. [Just for the sake that .com domains are very common and easily remembered by people]

4. Try not to get a hyphenated domain because people cannot remember this kind of URL structure. Such as, com is better than tech-tricks-world.com

3. Permalink Optimization

Now, you have your blog/website main domain URL ready and you need SEO friendly internal page URLs.

I have mentioned earlier in this post about different URL structures which are as:

http://www.example.com/category/sub-category/page-name

or 

http://www.example.com/category/page-name

or 

http://www.example.com/page-name

You can select any kind of URLs out of them. You can have /category/subcategory/page-name or just /page-name

At times you start your WordPress blog with ugly or lengthy Permalink structure but later you come to know that it should be something better and shorter. In such case you need to change the permalink structure and you are done. Seems very simple but there arises problems of 404 errors, Old indexed URLs in Google when clicked goes to not found pages. Everything goes messed up! But don’t worry, I have written a post in which I have mentioned how to change permalink structure for an already established blog without loosing any traffic and SEO value. Read the post here >> http://goo.gl/6bVaVE 

When you are dealing with an e-commerce website then you should have categorized links such as /electronics/mobile-phones/nokia-asha because this makes sense for users and even its good from search engine’s view as they can index the links category wise.

But when you are having a simple blog or information website then you should not have this kind of link structure. You might have seen many blogs have link structure like example.com/12/2014/page-name or example.com/gadgets/mobiles/nokia-asha.

Both of the structures are fine but it’s better to replace them from these example.com/page-name or example.com/mobiles/nokia-asha.

Why I am suggesting these?

Because lesser URL depth is better for Search Engine point of view and even it makes URL shorter which is good and memorable. Longer URLs are not recommended.

A. Static Vs Dynamic URLs

The above mentioned URLs are static URLs which are the best for SEO purpose. They are human edited but Dynamic URLs are created by web servers and they get generated at the run time.

Static URL: http://www.example.com/url-optimization – SEO Friendly

Dynamic URL: http://www.example.com/abc.php?id=3&k=443 – Not SEO Friendly

Dynamic URLs are not SEO friendly thus they should be rewritten in order to make them SEO and human friendly.

Thus, always create Static URLs which are human readable and SEO friendly.

B. Hyphen Vs underscore

I have mentioned that avoid using hyphens in domain name but when you have to write permalinks i.e. www.example.com/page-name then you should use hyphens to separate words rather than using underscore.

www.example.com/buy-nokia-asha is good

www.example.com/buynokiaasha is not good as it doesn’t look readable.

www.example.com/buy_nokia_asha is not recommended

Why Hyphens not underscores?

This is because Google considers hyphens to be word separators but have not yet programmed their search bots to consider underscores as word separators. (Source: Woorank blog).

Thus, always use hyphens whenever it is indeed required for readability purpose but don’t overdo it.

Conclusion

This is what I have to share about URL optimization so that you can get the maximum knowledge about it because if you are lacking in this area, you are missing a lot in your site’s SEO.

I hope I am clear with what I have said in this post. Still if you find anything which looks to be unclear, please do ask your questions via comments and give me opportunity to respond to your queries.


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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Atish bro,
    This was epic, We can say a complete guide to optimising the best URL structure. The title itself made me think if I am doing it right.
    URL structure is very useful, atleast when we are considering both human and bots for the post.
    Getting a good domain is the most important part of branding. would say its worthy to spend some time with domain name generators in order to get the right idea about domains.

    Just heard that Google is launching.HOW . I wonder who will use this many types of domains.

    I have the static version of URL structure as you mentioned and I think its great in terms of SEO and user ex.
    Swadhin Agrawal recently posted…Blogging strategies and SEO tips I wish mom told me.My Profile

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Swadhin,

      Thanks for coming and reading the post. Yes URL is one of important part of SEO and also making your URLs self explanatory is good for your readers as well.

      Yes, domain name generators are cool way to give you ideas to get your next domain. I am not aware about Google launching .how TLD. Thanks for the info.

      Keep coming to my blog.

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Thanks for coming by Shiv.

      Generally this canonical setting is done in server setting so you can use it to fix so that whenever you request your blog link either by typing www or without it, it always returns what you have set in your server setting.

      Also, check Site address and wordpress address by going to setting >> General (if you are using wordpress) and assure that same URL is mentioned in both options.

      If you still face any issue, just notify your web host and they will fix the issue in no time.

      Glad you liked the post Shiv.

  2. says

    Hello Atish Sir !

    You have provided a very useful and detailed insight on URL optimization. URL optimization is very crucial SEO factor that search engines bots consider while ranking any post in SERPs. So it becomes quite necessary to optimize a search friendly URL including your primary keyword in the URL but at the same time if you do it smartly, you can also make it optimized for humans.

    Thanks for providing this detailed tutorial, specially permalink optimization. 🙂
    Rahul recently posted…7 Highly Productive Places to Share Blog Posts for Maximum Increase Website TrafficMy Profile

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Hi Rahul,

      Glad you read the post and shared your views over this topic. Yes URL optimization is indeed required not just for the sake of search engines but for humans also. Even, you yourself must not like longer URLs right?

      Short and simple URLs are great from every point of view.

      Keep visiting.

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Yes Ankit,

      Shorter URLs are the best for everything, for SEO, for readers and even you liked them too.

      I am glad you liked the post.

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Hello Muraly,

      While building links you should not focus only the home page rather you should build links for home and other internal pages as well.

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Hello Sahariaremon,

      Glad you liked the post. Domain name is important part of an URL as that you can select it only once. but you cannot miss other elements.

  3. gprbali says

    I am a new on SEO related stuffs..however, your article is full of brilliant ideas and tips. I really like to read it.
    Thanks- Gede

  4. says

    Hi Atish,

    You sure covered every thing about URL’s. I’m glad you did because I’ve been taking this for granted. I know the difference between dot com and stuff like that, but this gives me a whole new look at things.

    Not a techie by no means, but each time I visit you, I learn something new and valuable.

    This is especially great to know if someone is putting up a new site. So this post is a must share!

    Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted…When Customer Engagement Matters MostMy Profile

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Hello Donna,

      Always loved to get appreciation from you. I am very happy that whenever you come to my blog, you learn something new. What else can be a great thing for me? This made my day! 🙂

      Please keep visiting!

  5. says

    Atish,

    You’ve come with an interesting topic with basic stuff that every blogger should know.

    Most of them would get confused to optimize the url in a perfect manner and yes, the exact urls with good domain name would bring a lot of visitors to a blog.

    I still remember the day you chose the domain name for me and I’ve done my best till today to my blog. I love my blog very much and thus I do care for every blog post url.

    Short urls matter a lot in driving organic traffic and stop words should be avoided in the urls.

    You’ve nicely explained the difference between the hyphen and underscore, hope it would help many newbies to avoid using urls with underscore.

    I can see your maturity level of seo and blogging in the post, do write such kind of posts for us by sharing your experience. Have a great rest of the week.
    Nirmala recently posted…Helpful Tools To Make Images For Social MediaMy Profile

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Hello Nachikethas,

      There are so many SEO posts already on this blog. You can check out by visiting the SEO category. And yes, I will be coming up with more posts soon.

  6. says

    This post is going to be very helpful for newbies as well as experienced bloggers. Atish you have very nice explained many things related to url optimization. I have always seen that your blog posts links mostly contain less number of words. Definitely a lot to learn from you. I hope that you’ll soon write a post about explaining some unknown SEO strategies.
    Mohit recently posted…Grammarly Review – Correct Grammar Mistakes EasilyMy Profile

  7. says

    Hi Atish Ranjan

    This is an incredible and decently clarified URL streamlining aide.

    I generally concentrate on utilizing short permalinks with the primary decisive word included.

    Short URL s look great and dependable both for perusers and in Internet searchers also.

    Much obliged concerning imparting this must-read post.
    steven / essay writing recently posted…এসইও সম্পর্কে নতুনদের হরহামেশাই করে থাকা কিছু অতি কমন কিন্তু অত্যন্ত গুরুত্বপূর্ণ প্রশ্ন এবং তার উত্তর! আপনিও যদি এসইও শিখতে আগ্রহী হয়ে থাকেন তাহলে এটা দেখতেই হবে!My Profile

  8. says

    Very educative post. Great article. I have learned a lot from you. I actually love using only page-name url so as to make my url look readable, short and seo friendly. Thanks for the great article.

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Yes, URLs should be readable. Good point Emma. you can take out of unnecessary words from it. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Kubah Masjid says

    thanks for the article how to optimize your blog url , because it is very very important to our blog that looks pretty in search engines like google

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Hey Erik,

      I am glad that you liked the post. Everyone does mistakes in early days of blogging due to less awareness which is natural so don’t regret about that. Happy that you are doing great now.

      Keep visiting to my blog!

  10. says

    Hi Atish,
    This is an important post that newbies and experts alike must consider. URL structure and optimization is often ignored but they readily contribute to the traffic and success of a site or blog.

    I guess newbies would understand what it takes and how it works to optimize urls for humans and search engines after going through this post. Its very helpful!

    I shared this comment in kingged.com where I read this post!

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Thank you so much for your visit Sunday. It always required to have short, simple and clean URLs as they are good for both human and search engines!

  11. mahabub ahemed says

    Hi,
    This is an important post that newbies and experts alike must consider. URL structure and optimization is often ignored but they readily contribute to the traffic and success of a site or blog.

  12. says

    Hi Atish

    That’s a really useful post thanks.

    Some of it I already knew having learned the hard way – but that was plenty of information and advice that was new to me, so really appreciate it.

    Have a great weekend. Joy
    Joy Healey recently posted…Control Your DayMy Profile

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Hey Joy,

      Thank you so much for showing your presence here. Yes, Sr. bloggers like you do know these stuff already but newbies can learn about URL optimization by reading this post.

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Check in your wordpress blog in setting >> General.. that both the website addresses are same?

      It can be simple done by defining URLs in wp-config.php file

      define(‘WP_HOME’,’http://example.com’);
      define(‘WP_SITEURL’,’http://example.com’);

      Replace example.com with your site address.

      If still there is problem then simply email to your web hosting.

  13. says

    Hi Atish,

    Really awesome post bro, I just enjoyed whole article, permalink is most important term of seo and we must use it carefully, short permalink is very simple method to improve Search engine ranking.

    I always prefer to use short url for my blog post with targeted keywords, and glad to know more about url optimization.

    Thanks for such a awesome post,

    – Mahadev

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Alia,

      Keep the URL length short and simple. Yes using keywords in URL has its own benefit but do it naturally. It should not look spammy.

  14. says

    It is very beautiful post Atish. We all know that the URLs we use really matters a lot for Search Engines as well for the users also. It is logically good to have smart URL, Meaning: Using small and meaningful URLs.
    We must always try to categorize our post in such a manner that people can easily scroll our in a very pleasant manner. Really thanks for sharing such valuable suggestions Atish, waiting for your next post!
    RogerD recently posted…10 BEST ANDROID PHONES UNDER 10000 RS (FEBRUARY 2015)My Profile

  15. says

    Hi Atish,

    I just missed the bus 🙂

    just today only i got the intimation via G+

    Wonderful and an excellent post on SEO, URL Optimization.
    In fact I am new in this area, but this tuto/guide is a surefire for me! 🙂
    I am bookmarking it for my further use.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this timely piece.

    Keep writing, I am not getting your newsletter

    i am subscribed again, hope i will not miss any future posts.
    Philip Verghese Ariel recently posted…My Comment Authors At Philipscom In The Month Of February 2015My Profile

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      Hello Philip,

      Better late than never.

      Thanks for coming by and reading. Thanks for subscribing and I hope you are getting newsletters on time from this blog. isn’t it?

  16. says

    Atish Ranjan@ In-depth and comprehensive tutorial for optimizing URLs. Short URL structure with proper keywords added is way better than Long URL structure because Google indexes only first few words and ignores the rest.
    Am i right bro?

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      HI Satbir,

      Thank you so much for reading my post.

      Yes, URL length should be limited as well. It should not be too long.

  17. bioadorates says

    This is a complet guide for URL structure and domain choosing. Url have a direct impact on search engines understanding of the sturcture of the website. And, also, humain needs to a well-stractured urls to know were are they if they are on the website and to click if they are on SERPs.
    THX for sharing.

  18. says

    URL structure plays an important role in blogging arena.

    A perfect configured URL has many fold benefits. It tends to generate more traffic from SEO , easy to share and looks elegant.

  19. says

    Atish sir, i am happy that once again i am here on your site and reading this lovely article here. Well, saying true i know all this thing you mentioned here but still i like the way you are sharing important information with us.
    Thanks for doing this job for us brother..

  20. Roman Syed says

    Hi Atish ,
    your URL Optimization article is really good and informative. URL Optimization is most most impotent for SEO. this article is really helpful for us. Thanks atis for this informative article .

  21. says

    Hi Atish bro,
    As always again very informative post on URL optimization.
    Choosing URL and Domain is one of the important factor one should consider while starting with blog.
    Btw can you tell, how one can resolve issue which is mention in first point?I always focus on using short permalinks with the main keyword included.
    Short URLs look good and trustworthy both for readers and in search engines as well.
    🙂
    Sneha recently posted…Tamilnadu Plus Two (+2) Results Declared (TNBSE) 12th ResultsMy Profile

    • Atish RanjanAtish Ranjan says

      I have already gave the solution in the comments. Please check carefully Sneha. Thank you for stopping by.

  22. says

    Very nice tutorial to improve SEO post/page links, informative for wordpress bloggers, but if you write a post about how to optimize blogger permalinks would be great and i like your website very much…

  23. says

    Well really this is very good post and I learned very good things from here. Best part is that you have explained it from scratch. Thank you for sharing this post. I am going to use these techniques.

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