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Uniform Resource Locators, more commonly referred to as URLs, are the address of a page, image, or file on the internet. The URL of your website is the first thing that the search engines and your customers see. They show the resource’s location needed to access it because it contains a link to the server where the searched resource is stored. That’s just a fancy way of saying it tells computers where to find your website.

How to Optimize URLs

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URLs are important in creating an effective site hierarchy. They pass equity through the domain and direct users to where you want them to go. It is, therefore, important that your URL structure includes usability and accessibility factors. These two things, combined with content, will contribute to improved search engine optimization.

Here are the ways to optimize your URLs.

1. Top-Level Domain – Whenever possible, try to use a top-level domain for the base of your URLs. There are a multitude of domains available out there for you to use, but research shows that people trust .com domains the most. Due to Google’s past EMD (Exact Match Domain) algorithm, stuffing keywords in your domain doesn’t influence search engine rankings, but it can influence how much users trust your site. TrustedIndustryWebsite.com is a lot more trustworthy looking than RandomWebsite.biz.  Using a top-level domain will eventually, indirectly, trickle down to a positive impact on your SEO.

2. Use of Keywords – Okay, contradiction coming through.  I just said to not stuff you URL with keywords, but that’s the domain.  Conversely, having keywords beyond the domain (trustedindustrywebsite.com/keywords-here/) can be beneficial.  Using keywords in your URL is a reliable way to improve your search engine ranking, but pare it down to one or two per URL. URL keywords show up in search results, making them an important element that people who are browsing use in deciding which website to click. The keywords in your URL will also give everybody who sees them an idea of what your site is about.

3. Simplicity – URLs need to be simple and short. Shorter URLs tend to rank higher on Google, and they also enhance user experience and are optimized for sharing. While the length of a URL can technically be as many characters as you want, it’s not a good idea to go overboard. Keep your URL short and straightforward so it’s easy to remember, and users can keep coming back to your site with ease.  Don’t make the mistake of using too many folders (slashes) in your URL. Folders express ideas, but they also add unnecessary complexity. Keep your URL simple by using no more than two folders. If your URL contains too many folders, it makes typing and edits difficult for the users and the search engines.

4. Readability – While you’re editing your URLs for length, make sure that they are also readable. In fact, the easier it is for humans to read your URL, the better search engines can understand what is going on in your webpage. Using a URL that is difficult to understand is frowned upon by the search engines, and users will have a hard time remembering it. Both of those results can hurt your online success.

5. Be Trustworthy, Be Secure – The success of your website’s search engine rankings depends on its trustworthiness, including what kind of content you’re producing, how long it’s been since the site was first indexed, how intuitive the design is, and your website’s security. It seems like a no-brainer, but if you have a website that transfers sensitive information, it is best to use https instead of http. The letter “s” in https inr your URL represents secure, which means that all communications between the browser and the website are secured because they are encrypted.

6. Other Aesthetics  – When you have to put spaces between words in the URL, you need to use a hyphen instead of an underscore. Hyphens have become the preferred separator, so that’s what you should use. Also, make sure that your URL utilizes all lowercase letters because consistent casing is more trusted than varying letter casing.  Throwing in uppercase letters confuses things.

By sticking to the basics of URL optimization, you can improve the structure of your website and help it thrive.