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*Note: All websites listed in this post were used for example purposes only

URL structure typically includes four main elements: subdomains, domains, folders, and pages. Does this look familiar?

Each element has a different priority in SEO tactics (source: SEOmoz). When possible, you want to work your target keywords into each element. This means thinking about SEO while selecting your content management system, naming your products and reserving the domain itself.

There are companies that will help you with the specific industry you’re in and you will want to make sure that you have the right SEO company for your business. For example, if you are in the dentistry business and hire an SEO company that specialise in dentistry then the seo dentist website team will know exactly what to do with your website from URL to the design. There are loads of different types of SEO companies that can help you improve your ranking for your business. It really doesn’t matter what your business is in. You could have a marijuana business and all you would need to do is go on a website like and you’ll easily get the help that you need.

But here are 5 specific tips on how to make sure your URL structure follows SEO best practices:

1. Be Short and Descriptive
Every website’s URL is visible on Google?s search engine results pages; it?s in green just under the link. If your URL makes sense to humans, it makes your search engine listing look better. So when possible, use comprehensible words.



2. Not Too Many Folders
When a URL has many directories and pages deep within those directories, the pages appear to be ?farther away? from the root domain, and will therefore benefit less from the authority of the main domain. In other words, the more slashes in a URL, the less search engine friendly it is.

Avoiding folders (and folders within folders) will also keep your URLs shorter, which makes your URL structure more legible to humans.


3. Sink the Subdomains
Sometimes there are good reasons to use subdomains, but they can be a problem for SEO. The trust and authority built up at the domain level doesn?t get fully passed on to the subdomain, so avoid putting any search optimized content here. Save the subdomains for login areas, secure areas, internets, extranets, etc.



4. Domain, Sweet Domain
Regardless of the rest of the URL structure, the domain itself still impacts ranking. Although less important than in years past, domains with keywords are still preferred. This is partly due to the fact that keyword-focused domains attract keyword-focused links, since the domain inevitably serves as the anchor text in many inbound links.

An exact match domain is a domain name that contains the entire target keyphrase, such as Yes, they are considered spammy. No, they are not as effective as they once were, but if you have an entire website focused on a single topic, a highly focused domain won?t hurt. Just don?t get carried away and start registering five word domain names.

So if your domain doesn?t have much link popularity yet, consider switching to a domain with at least one word from your primary target keyphrase.


5. Dashes = Good, Underscores = Bad
Of course, URLs can?t have spaces, so when separating words, you may choose either an underscore or a dash. Choose the dash. It helps Google know that you?re using two separate words.


You can do this when you?re creating files and pages. But if you use a content management tool, it may choose this for you. Hopefully it?s using dashes. When choosing a new CMS, look closely at the URLs it creates.

6. Beware Duplicate URLs
If there is any chance that Google may see two addresses returning the same content, pick the URL you prefer and stick to it. When Google finds the same content at two URLs, it will generally choose one, and sometimes it?s not the one you wanted.

The goal is to make sure Google knows which address to use for which page. You don?t want and both showing up in your Analytics. You also don?t want and to both get indexed in Google.

Use canonicalization to indicate that preference with the rel=”canonical” tag. And when necessary, use 301 redirects.

Bonus Tip: www or no www?
Speaking of making things official, ask yourself how much you like the letter w. Every site should decide if it?s or It doesn?t matter which, but make up your mind. Set the server to force your preference. Then, for as long as you live, every time you type the address, keep it consistent.

About the Author

Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, an ecommerce and web design company in Chicago. You can find Andy on Google+ and Twitter.



Case Study – Watters

Watters Logo | ReTargeter

Watters is the brainchild of designer Vatana Watters. For over 30 years, it has been the leader in offering luxurious designer bridal gowns, innovative bridesmaids dresses, classic special occasion dresses for mothers of the wedding, and adorable dresses for flower girls and junior bridesmaids around the world. Selling primarily at trunk shows and in third-party […]

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