Generally the URLs are taking very important role on search engine visibility. So planning and managing your URL structure can effectively boost up your ranking. These are some best practices to manage your URLs effectively.
Keep it simple but readable
A web site’s URL structure should be as simple and readable. Don’t go for a lengthy URLs to indicate categories and multiple sub categories instead make it simple and name the URL most relevant to that particular page. Don’t go with the numbers, keys, ids or randomly generated URLs. Ex: http://www.abc.com/index.php?search=true,search-id=538&xname=xyz1234567. Instead make it readable. For example my shopping website for a blue shirt page can look like this, http://abc.com/mens-blue-shirt.
If you see the above URL is much readable. In fact avoid using the URL like http://abc.com/mensblueshirt. Always use the splitter for words and strongly recommended to use only hyphens “–“. Don’t use underscore or other any other special characters for word splitting.
So the conclusion is to use simple, sweet and legible (human readable) URL that can also provide bit of introduction to what your page contains.
Avoid Sub domains
Try using sub domain urls as search engine considers each sub domain as a separate website. So the ranking splits and that will make you hard to manage using web master tools. In many cases you may like to use sub domain structure say like blog.abc.com or news.abc.com. Instead segment them like http://abc.com/blog and http://abc.com/news.
Use only one protocol
Don’t let your site run in both http and https or mixed mode. Like the subdomain case it may also hard to manage. Use https (as recommended by google) if you have valid SSL, so set a force https redirection and get your site running on https the whole. Don’t confuse with www domain or non-domain. Same like http protocol either use one of these or force/redirect the pages to run on one protocol. It is easier for search engine to crawl as well easier for you to manage.
Use canonical URLs
The canonical URL is a new way specifying the content origination. It helps you consolidate the duplicate URLs into one canonical URL. In many situations you may have content (URL) duplication and that causes you confusion like which page to present your customer/visitor. The same confusion goes to search engine and they may showing one of them and that may not be a preferred one of you. For example in an ecommerce website you may have many searches to find a product and each time the URL may differ based on the search of course the product is same. In this case use canonical tag to specify the original or product specific URL. Use of canonical URLs also reduce the crawling time for search spiders as well helps us to manage the tracking metrics easily.
Check broken URLs regularly
Possibly your google search console can give all information about broken URLs and the URLs that can’t be crawled. So just watch it regularly and provide the necessary fix.
- When you change your URL, make sure you set the 301 redirect to the new URL. Just don’t remove the old URL and leave the site throws page not found error. It causes a loss on your search ranking.
- Remember you site may have external links that may be broken (not available from now), so fix them by removing or replacing the right link.
- If you see page can’t be crawled or indexed report on google, go through and see for necessary fixes.
- If you don’t want an URL to be searched from now, then use the URL remove request feature on google search console. Also remember to place no-index tag on your web page as well.
- Use robots.txt to block old URLs as well some dynamic resources like JS files etc. These may look like broken pages so avoid allowing them to crawl by search spiders.