Why Does My Website’s URL Structure Matter to Google?

For years, a website’s URL structure has been a constant source of debate within the SEO industry. Does it really matter?

First, let’s talk about the basics. What is URL? Well, URL is short for “Uniform Resource Locator”, which gives you the specific address to a Website or piece of content on the world wide web. This is important because it’s how Search Engines find you. With out it, you don’t exist.

When it comes to your website, the URL is generally the first thing both Google and your Customers see, and since the entire concept of SEO is to reduce the time a person spends searching for a relevant result, first impressions are very important. Too often though, Websites are created with only the audience in mind and not the Search Engine. Undoubtedly, the Customers are the ones engaging with your business but if it isn’t SEO Responsive no one will be able to find your Website.

URL Length Matters

URL Length Matters

First off, the length of the URL matters despite Google not having a specific number of characters it allows. A shorter URL means that is has fewer folders — which means it’s easier for Google and other Search Engines to find and sort relevance. It’s less clutter for everyone involved.

Keeping your structure short and concise builds your potential for more online visibility.

Keeping your URL structure short and concise builds credibility and visibility for your Website. Lengthy URLs are also harder for people to interact with, not just Search Engines. It’s better to offer every entity, robot or not, the easiest experience with your URLs.  

Make Your URLs Relevant

The Google algorithm picks up on the first 3 to 5 words and gives lesser attention to any words that follow. This means that a structured URL will spare your Website any issues related to sub-domains, which should be avoided because they are often lengthy and complex.

URLs can also build reputation and trust. If you have words that aren’t related to your business in your URL, consumers will feel violated and annoyed. A well-crafted URL gives both humans and Search Engines an easy-to-understand indication of what the destination page will be about.

Use Hypens and Underscores

A well-structured URL uses hyphens and underscores. Using these characters will have a positive effect in increasing your Website’s ranking on Search Engines, as hyphens and underscores split words, making it easier for Search Engines to sort your Website by relevance.

The ideal order to separate multiple words in a URL are hyphens, underscores, brackets and the plus symbol “+”. And since we are talking about Google, the largest Search Engine in the world has a preference for hyphens. Consumers as well, typically favor hyphens over underscores as it is more relevant to standard punctuation practices. In the eyes of Google, a hyphen is treated as a space or a word separator. Consider for example, www.bestburger.com/double-cheese-beef-burger. Google will read this as double cheese beef burger.

An underscore, on the other hand, is a word joiner. Using the previous example, this time with an underscore www.bestburger.com/double_cheese_beef_burger, Google will take this as doublecheesebeefburger — it’s hard for just to read and even harder for Search Engines.

A handy tip to go by is that if a URL is easier to read for us then it is easier to read for Google. Therefore, if you want to go for readability, use hyphens!

URL's Should be Case Sensitive

Structure your Website’s URL consistently when it comes to letter case. Although Google doesn’t consider letter case an SEO issue, you should be very consistent across all of your URLs because they are regarded by Google to be case-sensitive.  Having consistency with your URL prevents Google from confusing your URL as two pages instead of one.

Harness the Power of Keywords

Never underestimate the power of keywords in your URLs. While others argue that keywords in URLs have minimal effects on a page’s relevance to a search query, using it to target rankings in your URLs is still a great idea as it gives weight and authority to the overall domain.

Google does count and sort the keywords in your URL structure when it ranks your Website. However, this must be supported by the use of the same keywords in the content of your Website to improve your Search Engine Rankings!

Keep in mind that Google considers a wide range of on-page and off-page web elements to figure out what your page is about. So, if you’re aiming to achieve the best rankings for your Website, particularly for highly competitive keyword phrases, it is smart to make room for targeted keywords in the URLs of your Website.

But remember, as with everything else in the world of SEO and beyond, do it in moderation. Overdoing it will give Google the impression that you are trying to manipulate the search results by web spamming. Keyword stuffing and spamming — putting too many keywords in your Website will be detrimental to your Website’s Ranking!

Know the rules, apply them well and research anything and everything you can! If you’re too busy to make your own URL or don’t understand it well enough then contact our team at Sites n Stores and we can work with you to create the perfect URL to suit your business.