Kick-Start Your SEO Campaign With a Perfect URL

Sunday, September 9, 2012
The URL of a website, no doubt holds a lot of significance. URL is a very important on-page factor which can impact your SEO campaign considerably.
Unfortunately, some web site owners ignore URL issues in on-page optimization, and face the consequences. However, if one starts being careful about the creation of URL, it can have a positive impact on the SEO campaign and contribute to the success of the same. Here in this article, we will discuss the common mistakes that one commits in the creation of URL and how it affects the SEO efforts.
Most Common URL Mistakes which can badly affect your SEO campaign:
Insufficient Keywords
If we talk about keywords for URL, we are surely going get into a debate as there are some who believe that keywords are essential for a proper URL and some believe that they are not. However, when it is all about SEO, then Google rules, and Google says that keywords in URL do help your SEO efforts. And I agree to it. The reason being that a recent Google update confirmed that the inner pages are ranking much more frequently for certain strong keywords rather than the homepage. Therefore, it is always favorable for you if you give enough weightage to your website's URL with the targeted search terms.
Too Much of Everything (keywords) Is Bad
As we discussed above, keywords in the URL is recommended, but here, what I would like to add is that keyword stuffing is bad, if your URL has too many keywords; then you are definitely going to ruin things rather than making them good enough. However, there are no firm data sets that state this negative impact of too many keywords in the URL but Google did mention that their algorithm does look out for this. If you start stuffing your URL with too many keywords, you are hampering it.
Improper Semantic Structure
Always use a well crafted semantic structure for your website's URL, as; it helps a lot for search engine spiders. A proper semantic is beneficial in a way that Google can pull these into a SERP and can display them in place where a confusing URL string has been used.
There are various Content Management Systems which permit bypassing vibrant characters in URL. Take WordPress for example. If you are using WordPress, instead of using page ID in the URL of the website, you can instruct WordPress for an SEO friendly pattern.
Dynamic AJAX Content
At times users are worried and complain that only their top category pages could be visible in search engines, i.e, no long tail queries could return back their sub categories. Do you know what can be the reason? It's the use of AJAX to generate these pages with dynamic content with the help of hash parameter. This becomes a hurdle in the indexing of the URLs.
However Google, earlier in 2009, had announced that changes were about to be made allowing these pages to be indexed and for that the exclamation mark token ("!") has to be added after the hash ("#") within an AJAX URL.
Duplicate HTTPs Pages
Another issue that often goes unnoticed is that of http and https pages rendering the same content. This is a very common case when a user enters a secured part of https and then leaves that page returning to a non secured http page. However, the navigation process holds on to the https forerunner because of the relative URL links. This leads to a situation where https are rendered on all pages of the site thereafter. However, to fight this situation we need to take two steps.
Step 1- All navigation to non secured pages have to be http rather than https and this is possible by hard coding or by removing relative URLs from secured pages.
Step 2- In the non secured areas, the https versions should be 301 redirected into the correct http versions.
Category IDs
Category IDs are utilized by many sites within their URLs, and are generated most of the time by their CMS. All in all, lot many numbers, letters and symbols in a URL are senseless to either a human visitor or a search engine spider. To maximize the sites SEO impact, include keywords within the URL and logical semantics, it is required that these IDs are turned into pertinent descriptive text.
Most of the CMS platforms possess this 'pretty URL' ability built in to them. If not, all you need to do is to map each of the IDs to a relevant handle such as a products name or category.
Session IDs
There are certain ecommerce sites that track the activities of the visitors, like; adding products to shopping baskets by appending session IDs at the end of URLs. These IDs are essential for interaction of visitors with functionality that is user specific; but obviously they can result in duplicate content issues. As it is known, that each ID should be unique to every visitor, the situation creates many duplicate website pages.
Solution- Remove session IDs from the URL string and place a session cookie instead. The cookie will work similarly as the ID did, but as it will be stored on thee users machine, it won't affect the URL.
Rendering of Index File
At times it so happens that a website renders both; a root directory in the URL and the root that is appended with the index file (index.php, index.aspx, index.html, etc).This results in both being treated as a single page by search engine, thereby, both getting indexed and resulting in the creation of duplicate content.
However, this is easy to rectify. Just like the trailing slash fix, a 301 redirect rule has to be established to point one into the other. If a greater level of usability is required, redirect the version I would say, and this should include the index page into the root directory URL without the index page.
URL is an important factor that plays a role in search ranking, avoid these mistakes, make your URL search engine friendly and kick-start your SEO campaign.
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