A Uniform Resource Locator, or URL as commonly known, represents a webpage’s address on the internet.
In the distant past, where evil blackhat SEO wizards reigned & cackled, keywords in the URL were far more important of a ranking factor. This led to a snowball effect in some cases so that popular domains today often have keywords. However, it matters negligibly now.
Consider how badly Amazon’s URLs look yet how well their pages rank organically. Messy URLs irk many in digital marketing but are ignored by most users. Even the assumed SEO value through keywords may not exist for ‘naked’ URLs.
A URL has several parts. These include the protocol or scheme, host, top-level & 2nd-level domain names, possible subdomain, subdirectories or subfolders, slugs, anchors/fragments (#) and query strings (?). We’ll focus on the slug at the end and everything after that should explain the page’s content.
SEO best practices for URL slugs should emphasize User Experience (UX), so ideally having a logical hierarchy alongside ease of understanding & recall:
- Avoid stop words, which provide little value toward understanding what a page is about. Communicate your message in a short & brief keyword-rich statement. Strange & long URLs may be confusing or distrusted.
- URLs are case-sensitive. As a general practice, it’s best to redirect to lowercase versions as the default for consistency. Especially with Uppercase , this consolidates links that may differ otherwise.
- Trailing vs. non-trailing slashes don’t matter at all from a search engine perspective. However, users may expect trailing slashes to indicate that it’s a container with additional items.
- Avoid using underscores, which cannot be seen with a link is underlined when hovered. Use hyphens instead.
- A breadcrumb trail in the search engine result exists separately from the URL. Therefore, this can be a great way to clean up URLs, in search results at least.
- A weird URL is possibly not worth a 301 redirect unless very unusable, as it may slightly dilute link equity despite official calls saying otherwise.
- Large sites should consider defining URL parameters for Google. Otherwise, the authority for a page may be spread of countless near-duplicate pages.