We all know that websites are built for other reasons than to impress Google, but there is a lot of potential traffic and sales to gain by getting a site listed in the Search Engines. So it’s worth investing sometime in making sure that your WordPress site is SEO friendly.
One of the main ways of doing this is to create SEO-friendly URL structures are one of the most popular and one of the easiest SEO optimization strategies to follow.
But what are the most appropriate and SEO-friendly URLs and how should you choose them? This post covers this topic in some detail, follow it and see how it is possible to create high-ranking sites, by ensuring that their site structure is of the highest quality and easy for the search engines to crawl and ‘understand’.
Make Sure You Only Have One in the Index
The Search engines will, if given the chance, index two versions of your domain, i.e., ‘www’ and ‘non-www’. Whilst Google is getting clever enough to work out that these are the same (and thus only takes one truly into consideration) it is good practice to tell Google to ignore one (and not leave it to work out which for itself).
Most of the SEO professionals use a 301 redirect (a permanent redirect) to point from one to the other (some prefer the www, some do not), but it does not matter, the important point is that there is only one version of the domain for Google etc to look at.
Use Keywords to Produce ‘Speaking URLs’
Keywords are at the very root of SEO, whether the target is a short or a long tail phrase. The trick is to get Google to notice the page containing those keywords and that means placing these important words in the right places.
One of the best methods is to include these keywords in the URL (not to mention the Title and Header tags), and whilst doing so, create so called ‘speaking URL’s’. They get their name because the literally ‘speak’ to the viewer, telling them, or at least giving them a very good idea, about what the page is all about, before they even get there.
Don’t Repeat Keywords though
There was a time where you could trick a Search Engine into listing a page (for a certain keyphrase) by using the target words over and over again. These days are long past now (in fact you risk a penalty if you use words in this manner).
But forgetting the Search Engines for a while, just put yourself in the place of the user, would you like to see a URL where the same word was repeated multiple times? Of course you wouldn’t and these days as users become for discerning, many will take the decision to ignore that page on principle..
There are many instances (especially for Ecommerce sites) where very similar pages are present on a domain. This is quite normal and users are not bothered about it, but from the Search Engines perspective they do create a problem, as they have two pages that look the same and don’t know which is the one they should list?
There is also a thought that having all these (what could be considered) duplicate pages on a site will actually cause the site to be devalued as a whole. There is no certainty here, but it is logical and hence it is best if you do your best to avoid the issue.
The good news is that this is very easily done, all you need to do is to pick the best of these similar pages and then use the rel=canonical tag to point all the rest at this ‘best of them’ page.
Don’t Include any Stop Words
There is a group of Web Designers and SEO experts who have started to use grammatically correct Titles on their pages. They are doing so in the belief that this will make it easier for browsers to understand and believe that they should go and visit the page when the see the listing in a Search Engine.
Another group don’t believe this to be the case, instead they construct their titles to include as many keywords as they can.
At the moment the jury is out here as to which works the best, but whichever wins out there is no need to include any of the stop words (a, an, and, etc.) which may well be in the title, in the URL.
Make sure there is a connection between URLs and Titles
Bounce rate (defined as when a user visits a page and then ‘bounces’ off the site and goes back to the results in a Search Engine, or any other listing for that matter without looking at another page in the site) is the enemy of all website owners. Why?, for the simple reason that they had managed to get someone to their site, only to lose them straightaway, hence losing a potential sale.
As having unmatched keywords and URLs is one of the best ways there is to cause a ‘bounce’, it stands to reason that the easiest way to optimize a website for the search engines (and your users) is by making a clear connection between URLs and titles.
By following the above, you ensure that your website is not only well understood by Google, but also that any visitor is more likely to stay on the site and thus give you time to impress upon them that they are in the right place and that you can help them.