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[This article was originally published in August 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.]
What is it URL structure for SEO? Why is it important? And how to start creating an SEO-friendly URL structure?
URL structure – or you usually know by permalink – plays a key role in representing your blog post. Your URL structure should be as simple as possible. Because your URL structure can improve your ranking, consider creating SEO-friendly URLs.
URLs form a small, yet important part of your website visibility. Aside from being an important element of your website’s SEO, it also helps your audiences what your pages and posts consist of. Not everyone realizes that URLs can be a very strong tool for SEO success – affecting both how users and search engines perceive a website.
How to do it?
This time around, I’m going to talk about what an SEO-friendly URL structure is and also share some tips on how to set one on your WordPress site, so make sure to stay tuned.
Need more SEO guides? Check out my SEO practices here – from simple SEO guide, On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, Technical SEO, SEO Tools, and more.
Why Urls are essential for SEO
Over the years, the importance of URLs for ranking has changed. John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, has made it clear that you should write your URL structure for SEO and with your audiences in mind.
In short, along with elements such as your content, title, and meta desc, and the anchor text of your link, search engines also use URLs to understand what your content is about. In fact, your URL structure for SEO is so vital that even Google provides a whole section on it in its SEO starter guide.
Best practice to implement URL structure
It’s important to understand that URLs are used to identify content, not to index it. So it is most impactful on user experience and increased click-through rates. With Google moving more and more towards User Experience, it’s not hard to understand why.
Use the keyword in the URL
Well, as with most things in SEO, your URL should be focused on your target keyword. Matt Cutts, who heads Google’s webspam team, stated in a video that keywords in the URL do help. There is some suggestion that it is advisable to have the keyword toward the beginning of the URL.
If you don’t include your keyword in URLs, there is a chance that users won’t exactly know what to expect if they click on your links. In fact, many people usually hover over any internal or external links that they see on different posts. In addition, if you add keywords to your URLs, you will make it easier to search engines if that said post is about that particular keyword.
Since your page or post title will likely contain your keyword, I recommend choosing the Post Name option in your WordPress Permalink Settings (located in Settings >> Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard).
Keep them short and sweet
The title for this post is: Perfect URL Structure For SEO Purposes [2023 Guide]
Then, your URL will automatically show like this: https://merryofaugust.com/perfect-url-structure-for-seo-purposes-2023-guide
This URL has 73 characters long! And then you will get the ‘green light’ from your SEO plugin. But, I never had or liked such URLs like this on my blog.
There is no need to have some long-winded URL, with every word included in your title. Having long URLs tend to confuse search engines, especially if they’re full of unnecessary words. You can start by removing the “stop words” that search engines will filter anyway. These are words like “and,” “the,” “a,” and “but.” But, if they provide clarity, you can keep them in.
After removing unnecessary words, it looks like this: https://merryofaugust.com/url-structure-for-seo
Google finds it much easier to understand URLs that stick straight to the point – and short URLs are usually better than lengthy URLs since they are easy to remember. Having a lengthy URL makes it difficult to remember and they also look terrible when shared on social media platforms.
Moreover, using shorter URLs across your entire site can help search engine crawlers find and crawl your pages better. URLs that are too complex or have numerous parameters can cause issues as they can create too many URLs that lead to similar types of content on your site. This case can only result in Googlebot not being able to index all of your pages properly. Therefore, you should strive to create short versions of URLs whenever possible.
Pro Tips: some content management systems generate URLs that include numeric, which can appear messy or confusing. Whenever possible, avoid these numerals and only use words that readers will understand and recognize.
Don’t include IDs or numbers
One important thing when setting up your WordPress is to check your URL or permalink structure.
WordPress generates your URL structure by date (either by day and name or month and name), this structure is considered to be a bit outdated (pun intended). Not only do dates make your URL appear longer, but they can also make the updating of your old content more difficult.
For example, the title of this post is previously “Perfect URL Structure For SEO Purposes [2021 Guide]”, and I want to update the post so that it now has the title “Perfect URL Structure For SEO Purposes [2023 Guide]”, the permalink containing the year 2021 can make things a bit unclear.
Plus, this can indicate to users that my article is old, and since people love to read new content, old dates in your URLs can be potentially bad for user engagement and can even decrease your site traffic. Honestly, the first thing I check on search engines is the publication date.
Of course, you can always redirect your post to a new URL using 301 redirects, but it’s not really practical to do this for every piece of content you need to update. Therefore, it’s best that you leave out dates from your URLs to avoid all the potential trouble. To prevent lost rankings and keep your web pages evergreen, you shouldn’t include any dates or years in the URL.
It’s okay to add numbers or years in the title because a title is easily changed. If you update the post one day and add a seven-step, you can easily change the title of the page. It’s a different case with URLs.
Change the post URL of an already published post
It’s perfectly fine to change old post URLs as long as you use 301 redirects. After setting 301 redirects, you will not lose any search engine traffic. This is the most effective method for directing users and search engines to the correct page. A 301 status code indicates that a page has been permanently moved to a new location.
Redirecting a page or post usually isn’t a huge deal. There are many WordPress plugins that will help you to do that. The one that I use is the free redirection plugin. The only thing you must check is that it is a 301 redirection. This means that if someone clicks on your old URL, they will be instantly redirected to the new URL.
Redirecting posts will ensure that you will not lose visitors after updating the post slug of an already published post. You should definitely do this for every new blog posts from now on. Likewise, you can begin editing post slugs for non-performing posts. I would not advise you to change the permalink of a popular blog post. This is part of On-page SEO.
Having a properly set up URL structure is crucial if you want to have a website with a solid SEO foundation. And by creating a URL structure for SEO on your WordPress site, you ensure a better user experience and increase your chances of getting higher search engine rankings at the same time.
Finally, I wish you good luck with all your SEO efforts. Hit me any questions below or you can messages me on Twitter!