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How to Write an SEO Friendly URL

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How to Write an SEO Friendly URL

The URL – Uniform Resource Locator – or address for your web page, is still an “on-page” SEO element. It is one of your available opportunities to tell the search engines what your web page is about, so it should contain your keyword(s) for that page.

The URL is made up of several components, primarily the Protocol, the Root Domain, and the sub-directory or path.

i.e. http://www.AdvisorWebMarketing.com/subdirectory/

One Domain to Rule Them All
 

Whenever possible, use a single root domain for all of your web properties – don’t have a separate URL for your blog. or separate micro-sites for each of your services or areas.

Splitting your web properties up results in multiple sites needing to be optimized individually – each will require fresh content and authority signals (i.e. backlinks), resulting in either more work or diminished results, or both.

Creating multiple sites used to be a common SEO strategy (and still is with some of my competitors) – the multiple sites allows you to create backlinks from one site to another – essentially creating a link farm. While this can still produce positive results in the short-term, Google has become very proficient at identifying these methods and will eventually penalize offending practitioners.

Protocol
 

Almost 2 years ago, Google announced that having a secure site – adding an SSL certificate to your site, resulting in an https protocol rather than http – will result in a slight rankings benefit.

While not universally adapted yet (including on this site – yet), it is certainly a change to consider making. Learn more from The Complete Guide to SSL and SEO.

Sub-directory, or Path
 

In order to be optimized for search, sub-directories should contain your keywords, be not be longer than 3-5 words, and should be separated by a hyphen.

i.e. http://www.AdvisorWebMarketing.com/how-to-write-an-seo-friendly-url/

While extending the length of your URL beyond 3-5 words (50-60 characters) will not impact your search rankings, it will make for a less user-friendly URL, and may negatively impact the click-through-rate from the Google Search Results Page.

The same is true for a hyphen. Search engines can read underscores, or even fill in blank spaces (using %20) but hyphens make the URL easier to read for potential visitors.

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WordPress URL SEO
 

For search purposes, set your WordPress blog so that your default URL subdirectory is the title of your post

i.e. http://www.AdvisorWebMarketing.com/how-to-write-an-seo-friendly-url

Note: If you have an existing blog, changing these settings will change the URL’s from your already published posts! I would recommend instead, just customizing each as you post them (see below). However, if you are setting up a new WordPress blog . . .

If your current default settings result in a URL that looks like one of these . . .

  • http://blog.AdvisorWebMarketing.com/?p=123
  • http://blog.AdvisorWebMarketing.com/2013/24/02/how-to-write-an-seo-friendly-url/
  • http://blog.AdvisorWebMarketing.com/2013/02/how-to-write-an-seo-friendly-url/
  • http://blog.AdvisorWebMarketing.com/archives/123

. . . go to your WordPress dashboard and click on SETTINGS >>> PERMALINKS >>> and the POST NAME radio button, your posts will now display the blog title in the URL.

Although it doesn’t affect your SEO, I would recommend not including the date of your post in your URL – it ages it in the eye of your reader, making them less likely to read, as you get further away from the publishing date.

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Manually Creating Your URL in WordPress
 

If you want to manually customize the default URL – it may be too long –  or only make changes to future URLs (without changing your WordPress Settings), you can click on the URL “Edit” button . . .

. . . and customize your URL. In this example, I could change it as follows:

http://AdvisorWebMarketing.com/write-an-seo-friendly-url

or I can remove “Stop” words (and, or, but, of, the, a, etc.)

http://AdvisorWebMarketing.com/how-write-seo-friendly-url

The URL is a simple, but important element of “on-page” SEO. As a bonus, an optimized URL is also usually much more user friendly and helpful to the visitors of your website.

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