Thursday, 22 December 2016

A Guide to the Perfect SEO-Friendly URL Structure

A lot of web developers believe that there is nothing like SEO-friendly URL structure. In fact, they claim search engines can make sense of a URL and a URL structure. However, SEO experts have different opinion. There's a difference between web developers and SEO experts:

Web Developers – These experts care about speed of the website, crawlability, and various technical things.

SEO Experts – They focus on website rankings and ROI.

So what may seem to be just an average website URL structure for a web developer may be SEO-unfriendly (not abiding by rules of search engines) URL structure for an SEO expert.

Understanding SEO-friendly URL Structure

As far as SEO is concerned, URL structure of a website must be the following:

Meaningful – Names of URL names must have keywords in them. Gibbering numbers and punctuation marks should be avoided.

Straightforward – Canonical URLs must be specified in URLs with duplicate content. Confusing redirects on the site should be avoided.

With an emphasis on the right URLs: SEO-wise, not all URLs on a site are of equal importance as a rule. Some even should be concealed from the search engines. At the same time, it is important to check that the pages that ought to be accessible to the search engines are actually open for crawling and indexing.

So, here is what one can do to achieve an SEO-friendly site URL structure:

Consolidate www & non-www Domain Versions

According to a standard rule, the two domain versions indexed in the search engines, (www and the non-www) can be consolidated in many ways. Most SEOs use the 301 redirect so as to point one version of their website to the other (or vice versa). An alternative to this is to specify your preferred version in Google Webmaster Tools:

Configuration >Settings > Preferred Domain

However, this comes with certain drawbacks such as:

- Takes care of Google only
- The option is restricted to root domains only. The method will not work for those with an website.

Some of the backlinks may point to www version, while others may be going to the non-www version.
The SEO value is consolidated to ensure both versions. It is better to explicitly establish the link between the two.

Relative and Dynamic URLs – Avoid Them

As per your content management system, the URLs generated may go as:

or “bad” such as:

Search engines usually have no problem with either variant. However, for certain reasons it is better to use static (prettier) URLs as compared to dynamic (uglier) ones. Static URLs contain your keywords. These are more user-friendly and one can figure out what the page is about simply by looking at the static URL’s name.

Google also recommends using hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in URL names. This is because Google treats a phrase in which the words are connected with underscores as a single word. For example, e.g. a_beautiful_garden.

Create an XML Sitemap

An XML Sitemap is different from HTML sitemap. XML is for the search engines and HTML is mainly designed for human users. An XML Sitemap is a list of website URLs that you submit to search engines. It serves the following two purposes:

- Facilitates search engines discover pages of the website without any difficulty.
- The Sitemap is used by search engines as a reference for choosing a canonical (preferred) URLs on your website. It is important for search engines to pick a preferred (canonical) URL when they see duplicate pages on your website.

A special algorithm is used by search engines to avoid duplicates in search results. This also helps pick a single URL to represent groups in search results. This way, other web pages get filtered out.
A major norm used by search engines to pick canonical URL for webpage group is the mention of that specific URL in the sitemap of the website.

When it comes to SEO benefits, it is recommended to include only those web pages into sitemap that you want to show up in search results.

Use Robots.txt to Close Off Irrelevant Pages

Some pages on your website should be hidden from the search engines. These may be any of the following:

- Terms and Conditions page
- Pages with sensitive information

Avoid these getting indexed as they don’t contain target keywords. These will simply dilute the semantic whole of the website. A robotx.txt file comprises of instructions for search engines dictating the pages of a website that needs to be ignored during the crawl. These pages get a 'noindex' attributes and do not show up in the search results.

In some cases, unsavvy webmasters may make use of noindex on pages it should be avoided. So, while doing SEO for a website, make sure none of the pages you should rank in search contain the 'noindex' attribute.

A Special Tag for Specifying Canonical URLs

Use canonical tag for highlighting canonical URLs on your website. The canonical tag should be applied for making it easier for search engines decide on your canonical ULR. Use redirects for site pages redirection. On the other hand, employ rel=”next” and rel=”Prev” tags for paginated content.

For instance, on any Home & Decor based website, you may visit the Table runners and mats page directly, or take different routes directly from the homepage:

Homepage > Dining > Table Runners and Mats

The following URL will be generated with your pass recorded:


Homepage > For the Home > Dining > Table Runners and Mats.
The following URL is generated:

All of the three URLs lead to the same content. If you have a look into the code of each page, you can see the following tag in the head element:
Screen3 (SEJ)

For each of these URLs, a canonical URL is specified. This is the cleanest version of all of the URLs in the group:

This filters down SEO value each of the 3 URLs to a single URL that needs to be displayed in the search results (the canonical URL). Search engines are capable of identifying canonical URLs all by themselves.


A website with SEO-friendly URL structure is one with a structure that facilitates website rank higher in the search results. Such a website has clear, error-free architecture.


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Great stuff you have shared. The points you have mention like Meaningful, Straightforward are really effective for create a perfect SEO-Friendly URL Structure. Also need to remember that he Internet simply swarms with several SEO, tips and tricks to make it easy and simple for you to make your website visible on search result. So this topic that also could be helpful for SEO strategy: 7 SEO Hacks for Startups