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How to Create SEO Friendly URLs

Erik Wardell

Erik is an SEO coach that loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. He thrives on helping people do what it takes to see their businesses succeed in search. Stay in touch on Twitter — @wanderinwardell.

Properly formatted URLs are useful for both your website visitors and search engines. Well-formatted URLs give your pages a better chance of ranking in search results and also encourage users to click on them across the web.

Learn how to create SEO-friendly URLs in this quick guide.

What is URL SEO?

When we talk about formatting URLs properly for SEO, we are more specifically talking about formatting the “path” or “slug” portion of a URL.

For example, in pathfinderseo.com/guided-seo, the term guided-seo occupies the slug or path portion of our URL. Optimizing this element of a page's URL with relevant keywords is URL SEO.

Why is URL SEO Important?

Search engines look at this text in a URL to figure out what that page is about. More importantly, users look to it when deciding whether or not to click a particular URL when they discover it in search results or on other web pages.

If a URL is too long, poorly structured, or contains a jumble of letters and numbers, search engines will have a hard time deriving context from it. Not only that, but users are less likely to click on it when they come across it across the web.

How to Optimize URLs for SEO

  • Make your URLs concise and human-friendly.
  • Communicate the core topic of a page in the “slug” or “path” portion of your URL.
  • Include your focus keyword, if possible.

What to Avoid

  • Long URLs.
  • Strings of ambiguous numbers and letters.
  • Text that doesn’t provide useful context.
  • Unnecessary words like in, and, the.

Should I Update an Existing URL?

As your build awareness around what makes a URL good for users and the search engines, you'll likely discover existing URLs that are in need of a refresh.

The concern with changing an existing URL is that the search engines are already familiar with the current URL. The current URL is in the search engine's index and likely there are links from other websites pointing to that page.

Changing an existing URL risks rocking the boat, so to speak. To minimize the impact, utilize a 301 redirect. The 301 redirect sends the search engines crawlers and users from the old URL to the new URL. 301 redirects pass 95-99% of the original value of the page to the new page so they are an effective SEO tactic.

That being said, tread lightly when it comes to changing existing URLs. If the change is subtle, then it's best to leave the URL as is. If the change, however, takes a URL from bad to great, then it is likely worth it.

URLs for a New Website

If you are designing and developing a new website, it is the perfect time to perfect your URLs. There is a lot of change that comes naturally with a new website. Ensuring that the URLs on your new website meet SEO best practices is recommended. Just be sure to redirect the old URLs to the applicable new URL so that the search engines and users don't get lost in the shuffle when the new website launches.

SEO is Incremental

Start applying these URL SEO best practices to all new pages and posts on your website. Review your current URLs to see if any pages warrant an update.

SEO is a series of small, step-by-step changes that lead to big results. URL SEO is just one piece of the process.

If you feel like you could benefit from more of this type of guidance from a seasoned SEO coach, schedule a demo with Pathfinder SEO to learn how guided SEO works.

TAKE A GUIDED APPROACH

Follow our step-by-step process and grow your business.

Erik Wardell

Erik is an SEO coach that loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. He thrives on helping people do what it takes to see their businesses succeed in search. Stay in touch on Twitter — @wanderinwardell.

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