Cheat Sheet: URL Rules to Follow To Create SEO and User Friendly URLs

So your creating a new site, or thinking about rewriting your URLs to help your users and the search engines understand your website and its pages more accurately. URLs are important when it comes to indexation, marketing, click through, and when other sites link to your website.

They should be optimized to pass keyword metrics and help with click through. This is where SEO comes in; to define the URL structure and get the most value out of it. When new URLs are being planned for sites, the following rules should be followed and a SEO should be brought in to work with your business to define the structure.

Rules To Follow When Creating a Website’s URLs


Rule 1. Keep it short

While a descriptive URL is important, minimizing length and trailing slashes will make your URLs easier to copy, paste, or remember in the rare case they were not bookmarked, and will be fully visible in the search results. Should be no more than 100 characters with stop-words removed

Example:
www.yoursite.com/category/subcategory/productpage/product might be shortened to www.yoursite.com/product

Rule 2. Use Keywords Your Trying To Target With the Page (don’t over do it, remember #1)

If your page is targeting a specific term or phrase, make sure to include it in the URL. However, don’t go overboard by trying to stuff in multiple keywords for SEO purposes; overuse will result in less usable URLs and can trip spam filters.

Example:
www.yoursite.com/dog-leashes-that-are-blue/blue-dog-leashes might be more focused to www.yoursite.com/leashes/blue-dog-leashes

Rule 3. Choose descriptive URLs whenever possible and remove special characters

Rather than selecting numbers or meaningless figures to categorize information, use real words and remove any special characters.

Example:
www.yoursite.com/category/item?23434 should be rewritten to be www.yoursite.com/category/dog-leashes

www.yoursite.com/category/john’s-leashes should be rewritten to be www.yoursite.com/category/johns-leashes

Rule 4. Use hyphens to separate words

Not all of the search engines interpret separators accurately like “_”, “+”, or “%20” so use the hyphen “-” character to separate words in a URL.

Example:
www.yoursite.com/category/dog+leashes should be rewritten to be www.yoursite.com/category/dog-leashes

Rule 5. Keep It Lowercase

Not all the search engines are case sensitive so www.yoursite.com/dog and www.yoursite.com/Dog can be seen as different URLs by some of the search engines.

Example:
www.yoursite.com/category/Johns-Leashes should be rewritten to be www.yoursite.com/category/johns-leashes

Rule 6: Remove stop words (from page name)

Example:
www.yoursite.com/category1/the-page-and-dog-name becomes www.yoursite.com/category1/page-dog-name

Rule 7: Should be no more than 1 level deep

Level 1 should be the site section.

Example:
www.yoursite.com/category1/page-name (Good)
www.yoursite.com/category1/category2/page-name (Not optimal, but in some cases it’s necessary)

Rule 8: Tracking perimeters should be removed from internal URL’s

Tracking should be done with onclick events if you use Omniture.

To learn more about the value that URLs have on the SEO variables please head over to our resource that talks about these values.