URL Page and Directory Structure and SEO

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How to structure your URLs

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. From an SEO aspect this is simply the web address of any web page. For example the URL of this page is http://www.littledetails.co.uk/winning-website-designs/seo-url-structure.php. Although you do not necessarily have to worry about the way your URL's are named from a web building point of view, from an SEO standpoint you should always have descriptive directory and web page names. Making the keywords part of the web page URL will give your pages an little extra search engine presence, as it makes your pages 'friendlier' for search engine spiders and robots. Search engines are more likely to recognise each of your pages as unique.

a keyword rich url is best for seo

For your human visitors, descriptive file names could be the difference between a click on your page, and a click on a competitor. The page URL is always shown in the search engine results, with the search keywords highlighted in bold. As a human user reading this page, if you have found it by searching for a combination of 'website', 'design', 'seo', 'url', 'structure', the keywords targeted by this web site and this web page in particular, you are far more likely to click on this page, than if the URL was something cryptic and deciphered only be the webmaster, such as http://www.littledetails.co.uk/wwdxx1/susxx1.php. You should also avoid generic page names, such as numbering your pages, page1.html, page2.html etc. Pages named in this way are more likely to be treated by Google as 'In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the XX already displayed' and not be displayed in the first batch of Google results.

A descriptive URL is far more likely to be remembered by a user, and typed in to the address bar from memory. It would also be very easy to miss a character out of a cryptic URL, and for that reason also other webmasters will be far more likely to provide a link to your pages with descriptive URLs.

Despite your best efforts to guide inbound links with the perfect anchor text for your pages, one of the most important aspects of SEO, many webmasters still simply display the URL of the page as anchor text. A descriptive URL containing the exact anchor text keywords you wish to target, will still reap the benefits of those keywords.

Keep it simple - directory structure

From both a search engine spidering and human user point of view, a simple URL structure is best. Whilst deeply structured URLs will still eventually be indexed by the search engines, you should avoid a structure with unnecessary levels such as: http://www.littledetails.co.uk/winning/website/designs/seo/url/structure.php as the pages will take longer to be indexed than if you only have one or two levels of directories. You may find the pages at the end of such a deep directory structure never receive a Google Page Rank, as Google does not view them as being important enough. Even with a tiered structure of internal linking, you are best to keep pages one or two directory levels deep. Having pages with different subjects within the same directory does not affect the tiered structure, does not reduce the reputation of the pages, and is preferable to having multiple levels of directories as shown on this example.

Keep it simple - URL links

Avoid linking to pages with a mix of capital and lower case URL links from different sections of your web site. If the search engine can find more than one version of a link to a page, it may regard this as two pages with duplicate content, and you may be penalised. According to the Google Webmaster Guidelines 'this could split the reputation of that content between the URL's.' Stick to one convention throughout. Our best recommendation is to keep every link as lower case, as the convention on the internet is for users to always type lower case URLs in to the address bar, and this is the way other webmasters are likely to link to your pages. Please note, this refers to the 'href' HTML part of the link and not the anchor text displayed on the page. Also note the best way to space your URL words for best search engine spidering is with a hyphen '-'.

Keep it simple - variables and dynamic pages

If your site relies upon a database for its content, or for any reason requires variables to be passed to the page via the URL, try and avoid appending the URL with the variables. For example, this URL could have been dynamically written as: http://www.littledetails.co.uk?page_type=designs§ion=seo&page_title=url_structure. Note on this example there are three variables passed to the page: page_type = designs, section = seo, page_title = url_structure. Whilst Google will do a good job of crawling this page including the variables as it goes, other search engines may not find this page at all, and your other efforts at on page optimisation may be lost. Where possible you should provide static URLs for your dynamic pages, and use the page code to pull the variables from the URL. This page is a good example of a dynamic page with a static URL.

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