We all know what a URL is, right? Uniform Resource Locator if you want to push your glasses further up your nose, and web address if you’re not a huge nerd. (I’m kidding, I love nerds. I’m dating a giant one.) It’s that address you type in to get to your favorite porn site. Crash Pad anyone?
Anyway, when it comes to your blog, or any website really, your URL is a very strong signal to Google or your search engine of choice as to what your page is about. Let’s hit some basic examples first.
A bad URL
A good URL
Okay, so what are the main differences? Well, for one, the title of the post is in the actual URL instead of just a bunch of numbers or characters. Back in the day, having an exact match URL, where your targeted keyword was in your URL, was a Big Fuckin Deal. It’s not as huge of a deal anymore, but URL structure is still a hugely important part of how search engines understand your website.
What else is good about the URL? The words are separated. With hyphens. Not with underscores, not all smushed together, not with ampersands or question marks or whatever other characters you want to throw in there. Best practice dictates that you use hyphens. Nothing else!
Dynamic URLs are the URLs that change depending on what’s happening on the page. These are instances like when you use a website’s search bar to look for something, or you filter your results when you’re shopping. Those criteria change depending on the options that you select, and so your URL changes to reflect that.
These aren’t great for search because sometimes crawlers can get stuck in a loop of testing all the different variations of the URL combinations, and if there are a lot, the crawler could run out of its crawl budget before it’s crawled your whole site. (Remember how crawlers work? If you need a refresher, this is a good place to start.) If your site has dynamic URLs, it’s a good idea to block those from being crawled in your robots.txt file.
How to tell if your URL follows best practice for search or not:
- It uses your page title instead of a post or page reference number
- Words are separated by hyphens, not underscores or not separated at all
- Static URL, so it doesn’t change when your filters or other parameters change
- Bonus points if you can sneak in a good keyword in your URL where it makes sense!
Does it matter if my URL has a trailing slash or not? (example.com/ versus example.com)
Nope. The only time it matters is if you’re inconsistent across your site, or if your pages are duplicating and you have two versions of each page, one with the trailing slash and one without.
Does capitalization matter?
Not really, UNLESS it’s causing the same issue as above. Capitalization should be consistent across your site, and watch out for duplicate pages; one capitalized, one lowercase.
What about UTM codes?
Use them sparingly, when you can! They can also create duplicate content issues and tracking issues, so if you don’t need to use them, don’t worry about it.
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