This is a guest post by Emma-Julie Fox.
The URL or Uniform Resource Locator is the representation of a website’s server IP address. Instead of an alphanumerical long-tail address that will be impossible for people to quickly recognize, let alone memorize, URLs are designed to be easily recalled and read by Internet users.
SEOmoz.com has an excellent graphic image published in 2009 that clearly shows the parts of the URL and what each component is called.
The illustration clearly shows what the components of a URL are. There might be some confusion between the folders/paths and the page titles in the URL. Let the diagonal slash be your guide. The folders/paths are indicated by succession diagonal slashes. The page title is the set of keywords right after the last diagonal slash in the URL.
It is usually a sensible sentence or phrase because it is the actual title of the article or topic discussed in the page. The words are separated by hyphens, sometimes underscores, both of which are usually used in lieu of the spaces between the words in the title.
SEO Concerns in URL Construction
If you recall, there was a time during the 1990s wherein using general words in URLs, particularly in domains, was the smart thing to do. At that time people were still warming up to the Internet and still learning how to use search engines. Instead of searching for keywords alone, many would make the mistake of adding a .com at the end of a query.
This was why it was a clever move to simply use general keywords in the domains because it increases the possibility of appearing first on the SERPs.
At present though, this is considered old-fashioned and no longer valuable for SEO purposes. Internet users now know better. It is now considered tacky to use keywords for the URL of a business website that has a perfectly good-sounding company or brand name. Besides, it only confuses users when they see the header of the website bears a name different from the one they see on the domain.
However, evidence shows that incorporating keywords in the URLs can still give a website more bearing on the SERPs. This leads websites to the following compromise: since it’s not a good idea marketing-wise not to use the brand or company name in the domain, the relevant keywords are therefore delegated to the folders/paths, page titles, and named anchor in the URL. These are the components that can help increase the SEO value of a URL.
So how does one come up with an SEO and user-friendly URL?
1. Buy them from domainers.
Domainers are people or companies that create SEO-friendly domains and sell them to any interested individual or business. Many domainers even develop the URL prior to their purchase, parking it and publishing relevant content on the dummy page. This makes search engines recognize the URL, giving buyers significant leverage for their future SEO campaigns.
Some of the most popular domain sellers are GoDaddy, NameCheap, Name.com and 1and1. You may find cheaper rates at lesser-known sellers that are equally good at their job, like Lawrence Ng’s oversee.net.There are also individual sellers that you can find in domain selling markets, like Sedo, Digital Point Forums, and NamePros.
2. Do a keyword research.
Non-brand domain names start with a very thorough keyword research. If you don’t have a brand name or don’t want to use your company name for your website URL, search for keywords that are commonly used by searchers of your niche. Keep things simple and short so that people can easily remember your website.
3. Follow your sitemap for interior page URLs.
It is customary for all other pages within a website to have lengthy URLs. They are made up of the domain and the folders or navigational links under which they belong. As much as possible, use the folder names in the URL so that page viewers will get the gist of the page’s location by merely looking at the navigational links. This can also help crawlers index newly-published pages more quickly thanks to the logical placement and labeling of the webpages.
4. Use the brand or business/company name.
Using it for a website URL is a smart move as far as branding and SEO is concerned. Coupled with marketing for the products or services offered in the website, people will be able to easily recall brand-oriented URLs.
Branding is closely associated with SEO in the online arena since the goal is basically to become a thought leader—that when people think of your niche or general products and service you can provide, it’s your company or website that they will think of first. By having the brand or company name in the URL, you can simultaneously optimize your website and your brand name.
How to write an SEO-effective URL is another matter that is worthy of its own discussion. The items in this article are merely suggestions on how you can start with choosing/buying/creating a URL.
Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver based SEOcompany that caters to businesses across North America. If you would like to invite the author to write on your blog too please contact www.pitstopmedia.com.