How To Improve URLs For Better Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

By on May 21, 2011
Post Highlights
*Impacts of website URLs on the search engines
*How to improve site URLs for better SEO results
*Why you should include keywords in your site URLs
*Keeping your URLs to fewer than 115 characters

You can rank your website high with simple SEO methodsYour URLs provide an avenue to let the search engines and people know what your page is about.

Conversely, if you don’t pay attention to your URLs, they may provide no value for your site’s SEO (search engine optimization) or for your human visitors, either.

Improving URLs For Better Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In an attempt to make your website perform really well on the search engines, there is the need to ensure that your website URLs SEO friendly.

It’s imperative to understand that badly designed URLs may trip up search engines or make them think you’re spammy. Below are ways you can improve your website URLs for better search engine optimisation:

#1). Include a few important keywords in your URLs

A keyword-infused URL can:
Help visitors see that the page they’re on is really what they’re looking for. Would you rather see example.com/blog/219058 or example.com/blog/cute-puppies? People will see your URL in search results, at the top of their web browser while they’re on your page, and any place where they may save the URL for themselves – like in bookmarks, or an email.

Give search engines one more indication of what your page is about, and what queries it should rank for. A URL without keywords won’t hurt you, but it’s a missed option. A competitor who’s placed relevant keywords in his URLs may rank higher than you for those keywords.

“If you have got a three, four or five words in your URL, that can be perfectly normal. As it gets a little longer, then it starts to look a little worse. Now, our algorithms typically will just weight those words less and just not give you as much credít.” -Matt Cutts of Google

#2). Keep your URLs to fewer than 115 characters

Research shows that people click on short URLs in search results twice as often as long ones. Shorter URLs are also easier to share on social sites like Twitter and StumbleUpon.

Long URLs can look like spam. As the URL gets longer, the ranking weight given to each word in the URL gets spread thin, and becomes less valuable for any specific word.

You can manually check the character count of all your URLs to make sure they’re not too long. The AboutUs Site Report can do it automatically, and point out any URLs that are longer than 115 characters.

#3). Don’t use more than a few query parameters in your URLs

In a URL, a ? or & indicates that a parameter (like id=1234) will follow. Here’s an example of an okay URL (the kind you use to track your marketing in Google Analytics with 1 query parameter: http://www.example.com/page?source=facebook

Bad URL with too many query parameters: http://www.example.com/product?id=1234567&foo=abc123def&color=yellow&sort=price

Too many query parameters can cause search engine robots to enter a loop and keep crawling the same pages over and over again. You could end up with search engines failing to index some of your most important pages.

#4). Use hyphens instead of underscores in your URLs

Search engines see underscores as a character. This means that your keywords will be seen as a single long keyword, and you’ll lose any SEO benefit they could have incurred.

A hyphen, however, is seen as a space that separates words. Hyphens are better for SEO because they allow search engines to interpret your web page as relevant for more keyword phrases. That said, Wikipedia’s links have underscores, and they seem to be doing okay in search results 🙂

Also, people can’t see underscores in a URL when the link is underlined, as many links on the Web are. So hyphens are friendlier for people, and make your site more usable. So… example.com/adorable-kitten-pics is better than example.com/adorable_kitten_pics

Good read: Why You Should Use Hyphens Instead Of Underscores In Your Website URLs

#5). Don’t have too many subdomains

A subdomain, or directory, is something that comes before the domain name in a URL. For example: http://blog.example.com. Technically speaking, www. is actually a subdomain.

Too many subdomains can cause problems for search engine optimization. For more information, read Multiple Subdomains: Classic SEO Mistake.

How to change your URLs

Ideally, you’d set up a search-friendly URL structure when you first create your website. Then it just works for you without having to lift another finger. Click Here To Read More

This article was originally written by Kristina Weis of AboutUs.org. Have a question? Follow her on twitter.

About Anthony Williams

Tony is a blogger, SEO Marketer and Internet Entrepreneur. He writes articles on various topics. He is one of the writers at Platterofgold .


  1. Justin Westwood

    May 29, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Thanks for the post, I have learnt one more thing!

  2. Emma Richadson

    June 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Some really excellent information, Glad I detected this.

    • Carlinda

      June 17, 2011 at 8:45 am

      That’s the best awnser of all time! JMHO

  3. Demarlo

    June 17, 2011 at 8:45 am

    That saves me. Thnaks for being so sensible!

  4. AboutUs

    February 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    I just noticed that this article I wrote has been republished here without giving me any credit or links. That doesn’t feel good. Here’s the original article, written by Kristina Weis: http://www.aboutus.org/Learn/Improve-Your-URLs-for-Better-SEO Contact me at kristina@aboutus.org to resolve this.

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