URL structure - SEO optimization

Service Business

In the previous parts of our SEO cycle - search engine optimization (SEO), we examined the essence of keywords, methods of their proper selection and the dependence of their length on the stage of the purchasing cycle. We also got acquainted with the methods of optimizing the website code. We have identified the most important elements in the page content and the role of meta tags. Now let's take a look at another important thing from an SEO point of view - URLs. Although they are often treated neglectfully, it is worth paying a lot of attention to them. Well-configured links have a positive impact on the rating of your website. In this part of the cycle, we'll tell you what it's like to create a proper link and description, what a friendly URL means, and the benefits of creating a sitemap. Read our article and find out what the optimal URL structure looks like!

Correct creation of links and their descriptions (anchor text)

You know from the previous parts of our cycle that links play a vital role in SEO. The first Google algorithm, created by Page and Brin, was based on their analysis. Until now, the importance of links for a high position in the search results is very important. We will prepare a special part of our series about link building and its role in SEO, and now we will look at a selected link element - the one that is visible in the content of the page. We are talking about anchor text.

Anchor text is the text that appears between the and tags in the link. For example in the link:

Cheap bikes Wrocław

The anchor text is the words "cheap bikes Wrocław". Correctly constructed anchor text is extremely important in optimizing a website for search engines. Anchors are taken into account by search engine robots and indexed. Therefore, when creating them, you should remember about a few rules that will translate into a better position of the website in the search results. So how should the anchor text be constructed?

  1. It is assumed that it should not be longer than 60 characters, however, shorter anchors are considered stronger.

  2. It is also important to include strong keywords in the anchor for which the landing page is positioned. However, you cannot create anchor texts that look unnatural.

  3. It is also important for the anchor whether it is thematically consistent with the content of the page to which the link refers. The link with the anchor "cheap bikes Wrocław" should not refer to the website of the association organizing bicycle rallies.

  4. For search engine robots, the "authority" of the page on which the link is located and the page it refers to is also important.

  5. It is worth highlighting the anchor graphically in the content of the page, it is also good to place it at the top of the site, preferably in the section.

  6. Vary the anchors - it is not beneficial to use the same anchor in all cases. Try to create anchor texts to include a variety of keywords.

  7. Do not overdo the number of anchors (and thus links) on the page, otherwise it may be considered spammy.

We mentioned that it is worth changing anchor texts on different pages, so here are some types of anchor texts that may apply to you.

The first is the exact-match anchor - this is the type of anchor text in which the entire key phrase is placed on which the linked page is positioned. We meet a part-match anchor when the anchor contains only a part of the key phrase or its specific words. A zero-match anchor is an anchor that does not contain a single word of a keyword phrase, such as an incentive for the user to visit the site ("click here"). There are also brand anchors, i.e. those that include the company's name in the content.

Friendly URL structure

What does it mean that web addresses are SEO friendly URLs? This means that they clearly define the content of the website and are easy to read and remember for internet users and search engine robots. So what do friendly addresses look like in practice and what makes them different from unfriendly ones? See on an example:

  1. http://rowery-wroclaw.pl/kat.2077282,art.990

  2. http://rowery-wroclaw.pl/rowery-gorskie/26-cali

Look at the two addresses and evaluate from which you learned something about the content of the page. In the address number 2, you immediately know what is on a given page and what exactly it concerns. Number 1 is just a bunch of symbols with little information to tell you. Someone may ask that we rarely remember exactly complex URLs, so is it really important to the user?

Yes! Although the URL is often hidden under the link anchor, it is already clearly visible in search results. It turns out that an intricate, long and unreadable URL can effectively push internet users away from visiting a given website and rather does not build their trust in it. In addition, changing your address to friendly also has its advantages for search engine optimization.

Search engine robots pay attention to friendly addresses primarily because they can successfully contain keywords for which a given page positions. Another advantage is the fact that a friendly address often defines the subject of the page, which is beneficial in the context of positioning. However, it is worth remembering that its length should not exceed 120 characters, otherwise search engines may not display all of it in search results.

Many companies that are just starting their business online skip this step, which is very important - both for users and search engine robots. However, changing the URL is not a particularly easy task, so it's best to delegate this task to IT specialists.

Redirects of the 301 type

Redirect 301 allows you to redirect the user and search engine robots from one URL to another. When will you need a 301 redirect? In at least a few cases:

  • permanent domain changes,

  • you have several urls and you want all of them to point to your website,

  • the double address problem - for Google, for example, rowery-wroclaw.pl and www.rowery-wroclaw.pl are two completely different addresses. Decide which to create a redirect to.

  • Transferring the content from one website to another,

  • CMS changes, URL structure will often change,

  • redirects from the deleted page to the current one with the same topic.

301 is a redirect that supports a permanent page relocation. Thanks to its use, search engine robots know not only about changing the address, but also about transferring content. This is very important because by using a 301 redirect you do not lose all SEO related power (page rank etc) when moving your page. Of course, all the power won't be transferred to the new page right away, as the search engine robots take some time to recognize the redirect.

301 redirects can be divided into two main groups:

  1. Internal redirection, i.e. one that occurs within the same domain.

  2. External redirection, i.e. transfer of an address from one domain to another.

How to apply a 301 redirect? If you are using Apache, create a .htaccess file in the root directory in which to put the entry. Examples (diagrams):

  1. Redirect 301 /old_url.htm http://www.domain.com/new_url.htm - in case you are moving the old subpage to the new one.

  2. Redirect 301 / http://www.newdomain.com - in case you are transferring the website from the old domain to the new one.

  3. RewriteEngine On

    RewriteCond% {HTTP_HOST} ^ domain.com

    RewriteRule (. *) Http://www.domain.com/$1 [R = 301, L] -

    in the case of redirection from a domain devoid of www to a domain with www.

Canonical URL structure

Canonical URLs are a useful tool to avoid the so-called duplicate content, or in Polish - content duplication. Various variables may appear in the URL of a page, including tracking numbers or session IDs, or variables resulting from various user searches. It seems completely unnecessary for all possible versions of the page to be seen in search engines - robots read them all and transfer them to the index. There, the search engine's algorithm selects one of the addresses it believes is most appropriate for users. Often it will have little to do with the friendly addresses presented earlier.

The way to prevent this from happening is through the canonical address system. They're just the actual URLs for the page, independent of variables. In 2009, Google announced that their crawlers would respect canonical addresses. The canonical address prevents duplicate content, which can be viewed by the search engine as an attempted fraud. The aforementioned 301 redirects are also a way to deal with this phenomenon.

How to determine the canonical address? Relatively simple. In the section of a given page, the line should be placed:

The tag tells the search engine robots which address they should submit to the search engine's index. Canonical addresses are very helpful when many URLs differ to a greater or lesser extent to one page.

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Site Map

The site map is another convenience for you and Google robots. What is a sitemap, or rather a sitemap? It is a type of document in xml format that contains a list of canonical addresses of all pages within the site with a general specification of their content. Maps are especially useful for large websites with an extensive archive and numerous multimedia content, or websites that do not have too many leading links in the network.

Have you recently set up your website and want to find it in search results? You have several ways to reveal it to Google robots. The first way is to add pages to the Google Search Console index. The second is linking to your pages on pages of other websites. The third - creating a sitemap and adding it via Google Search Console (you must have a Google account - then you add it in the Indexing tab). You can also create a robots.txt file in your domain's root directory and place an address pointing to your site map in it.

How do I create a site map? Such possibilities are offered by many CMSs, as well as many tools available on the web. They allow you to easily and effectively create a good sitemap.

What should you remember when creating a map? First of all, its size is limited - one map cannot exceed 10 MB (compressed) or 50,000 records. Also remember to include canonical addresses in it, without session identifiers, etc. Treat separate versions of pages in other languages ​​and remember about UTF-8 encoding.

You already know how to create a sitemap, how to use canonical addresses and 301 redirects. You learned what friendly URLs are and why text in anchors is so important. In the next part of this cycle, we'll tell you more about inbound and outbound linking, and we'll discuss how to get links.