Your webpage URLs can affect your search ranking and website organization. A clean, well-organized site has a better chance at ranking well than a chaotic mess. Optimizing your URL structure could do wonders for both lead generation and user experience. Here are some effective ways to clean up your webpage URLs.
What Is a URL?
A URL or Uniform Resource Locator indicates the location of a file on the internet. The parts of a URL include: protocol (HTTP vs. HTTPS), domain name (DetroitInternetMarketing.com), file path (category/blog-post-name.html or similar), and possibly a fragment or named anchor (/#anchor-name).
Every page has a unique URL, even if they hold the same title or heading. There can be multiple URLs for a single webpage, but no two pages have the same URL. For example, you can use directional anchors to guide people to different sections on the page. The primary URL remains the same, but you might have /#about, /#benefits, etc.
Why Clean URLs Matter
Having clean, easy-to-read URLs help your site in several ways. First, they help visitors know what the page is about before they click on a link. If someone hovers over a link to read the URL, the URL structure will determine if they officially make the click.
URLs also impact how easily search engines index your webpages. Your site structure should be a clear map for search engines to follow. If you use URLs to group like pages in a physical SEO silo, Google and other search engines can clearly see connections between pages. The easier a page is to index, the more likely it is to rank for target keywords.
How to Clean up Your Webpage URLs
Check out these quick ways to improve your URL structures and enhance the look of your website.
1 – Use Full Words in Your URLs
Instead of a URL like this: https://detroitinternetmarketing.com/?p=1071, you should structure it to look like this: https://detroitinternetmarketing.com/social-media-marketing/. Those two URLs technically point to the social media marketing webpage on our site, but the second one is more user friendly. It shows people what the page is about before they ever read the content.
2 – Add Keywords to Your URLs
Adding keywords to your URLs is one of the easiest ways to optimize website content and emphasize the search intent. Any blog post or webpage you put on your site should have a target keyword regularly mentioned in the content. This gives search engines something to grab onto and establishes your brand as an authority on the subject. Include the target word or phrase in your URL structure for keyword optimization.
3 – Eliminate Stop Words
Stop words are commonly used prepositions, articles, adjectives, and conjunctions that take up important character space in a URL. These words will make a URL unnecessarily long, and they may diminish the value of the keywords used above. Note that the URL for this post is https://detroitinternetmarketing.com/ways-clean-webpage-urls, not https://detroitinternetmarketing.com/5-ways-to-clean-up-your-webpage-urls. The first option is cleaner, simpler, and easier to remember.
Note: If you use WordPress for your content management, you can install a plugin like Yoast WordPress SEO to automatically remove stop words for you.
4 – Consolidate Your Categories
Having a multitude of categories on your website may seem beneficial, but it can make your site overly complicated. This hurts your navigation, creating a confusing experience for visitors and search engines. Cut down on the number of categories and subcategories used on your website, or eliminate them from your URL structure. This will make it easier for you to edit your URLs and clean up your content as a whole.
Note: Most CMS platforms have simple solutions for changing webpage URL structures or permalinks in their dashboards. For WordPress, Got to Settings > Permalinks to make this adjustment.
5 – Use a Silo Structure for URLs to Improve Site Navigation
An SEO silo is a way of organizing site content into coordinating groups. You can do this with a virtual silo by interlinking pages within the same grouping. For a physical silo, your URL structure determines which pages connect with another. Each silo has one parent page, followed by multiple child pages.
A dentist office may have a parent page for cosmetic dentistry, followed by child pages for teeth whitening, dental bonding, porcelain veneers, etc. The URL structure may look something like this: DentistSite.com/cosmetic-dentistry/teeth-whitening. This sets a clear message for what the page is about, and it once again guides search engines through the site.
WARNING: Do NOT Change the URL Structure For Successful Existing Pages
Don’t mess with the URLs of successful webpages or blog posts that are already on your site. Doing this will alter any backlinks from other websites that are currently pointing to those pages, reducing the traffic levels and decreasing your PageRank at the same time.
If you have to change the URL structure for a page that is already doing well, make sure you create a redirect for the page so the old webpage URL points to the new one. This will minimize the damage you incur from the switch.