SEO Tips: Search Friendly URLs and Website Structure

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Search engine friendly URLs: how, what and why to help your SEO.

Search engine friendly URLs are everywhere. Their impact on your website’s SEO is very significant (just read any of those articles by reporters who complain about the loss of a catchy headline to a news story). Here are some quick tips for structuring your website: file names, directories, and subdomains.

  1. Content management systems (like WordPress) have been helping bloggers with search engine (and human) friendly URLs for years now, automatically making the title of your blog post the “file name” or “final directory” in the URL. This is the easiest way to see it: look up at your brower’s web address. This one reads like a search phrase or sentence “find online marketing, SEO tips…” In short, the title must contain whichever keyword or phrase you’re targeting. If you’re a writer, this is very frustrating as it removes most of the spontaneity of headlines and the overall writing process. Writing for SEO means you always keep the keywords in mind as you build the content of the web page. With a CMS, this inserts it into the URL, if you’re not using a CMS, then you want to make sure that your actual file name reflects the keyword(s) in the title.
  2. Structure: think about the categories of your website long before you start creating files and posts. A good website has a filing system of which any über accountant would be proud. If the title and the URL of the actual file (post) doesn’t contextually fit within the directory name or category, then in essence you are mis-filing that webpage – you’re putting an invoice for carpet cleaning in the travel expenses folder. Your categories are you main folders for how you organize and file your site. The more applicable the files inside those folders (both in content on the page as well as page title, and file name) the “better” you’re site will be perceived when crawled: applicable content in applicable folders.
  3. Have a lot of different topics? Try subdomains. If you discover that you have so many topics that some topic A doesn’t have a darn thing to do with topic P, then that could be a bad thing for you (remember: you’re filing papers, filing pages). A quick solution that seems to have proven itself to survive Google updates is to use subdomains to break up your content (but only the top-most sections, not for sub sections otherwise it might be perceived as subdomain abuse). Google, clearly, is a good example (what a surprise, eh?) for using subdomains for SEO insfoar as breaking up its major “topics” maps.google.com, adwords.google.com, etc. If you have too many topics crammed into one domain / subdomain, then that makes it just that much more difficult for search engines to easily “figure out” what your website is all about.
Three quick SEO tips for now relating to URLs and website structure. More to come (and I’m sure more rules will change). Just keep good practice, post great content, and actively share it with your community to build those links and you’ll be working towards a good, long-term SEO strategy.