SEO Friendly URLs
Structure of links uses on the Internet, is one of site search optimization factors. SEO friendly URLs developed from idea and stated principle to the concept pretending to become technology. The main idea initially was an effort to equip a network address with readable structure, make resource identifier ultimately clear and simple. The next stage was initiated by search engines, which became interested in additional source of page description. When search engines made the type of link one of the parameters influencing relevance of a search query, SEO friendly URLs turned into one of SEO instruments.
Drawbacks of “not friendly” URL structure:
- bad link readability;
- deleting or ignoring by the search engines during indexation;
- rating of the page received on indexing is less that rating of friendly one (human-friendly).
If we judge people by externals, the first impression of the site appearing in the search results should be made by the link type. Search engines are constantly improving algorithms of webpages processing on indexing. Even the most complicated links are carefully analyzed. Regrettably, complete description of algorithms is not publicly available. Experienced SEO specialist tests many things in practice, analyzing statistics and working out individual approach. But the well-known fact is that keywords in hyperlinks are one of the web ranking factors.
Obvious advantages of human-friendly links are that they are easily readable and understandable. Moreover, this concept pushes the level of SEO.
The following encourages website ranking growth:
- presence of subject matter in domain;
- hierarchical structure in webpage address;
- using keywords in hyperlinks;
- anchor text in URL.
Look at the following link: http://www.htc.com/ua/smartphones/htc-one/
Visually it is easy to understand, what the page is devoted to. If I came across such a link at the forum devoted to HTC smartphones, I would more than likely follow it, because its look inspires confidence.
That kind of a link also complies with Google recommendations for webmasters. Detailed recommendations description can be found here.
The old style of dynamic addresses is legal and acceptable. I use my own terminology. I will call static link a link without question mark, ampersand and equal sign. Dynamic links contain parameters influencing appearance and content of a page. They are usually more difficult to read, because they contain parameter and value names adding extra symbols. There can be user identifier, session identifier, assortment parameters, display style and dozens of other characteristics, which create pages with identical content.
For instance, let’s consider the following page (“Staff Picks in Android Apps”):
If you go to the second page in the list, you will see, how link changes:
Link to the initial page in paginator (block with navigation through page numbers) will look different:
You can notice that content of the first and the third links is identical. Parameter “num” is in fact optional and used by default. Furthermore, it doesn’t affect the quantity of displayed elements. Parameter “start” is not necessary for the first page.
This is an example of how page duplicates can appear. If you analyze other links at the website, you will notice that at least each first page of category has a duplicate obtained due to automatic paginator generation with programming script.
It will be in place to quote an extract from the article mentioned above as “recommendations from Google to webmasters on links formatting”:
“Overly complex URLs, especially those containing multiple parameters, can cause a problems for crawlers by creating unnecessarily high numbers of URLs that point to identical or similar content on your site. As a result, Googlebot may consume much more bandwidth than necessary, or may be unable to completely index all the content on your site.”
Disadvantages of dynamic hyperlinks:
- bad readability;
- extra words in the hyperlink;
- duplication of the pages by content;
- possible threat to data security.
It is worth telling about the last paragraph about influence of dynamic addresses on data security. It is not infrequent that leak of personal data from websites happens. It can happen for several reasons. Foremost because of the pages not being forbidden from indexing in robots.txt. Secondly, on transferring certain parameters the page may show additional information with limited access. But this is completely other story.
As a conclusion, recommendations on URL formatting:
- the less parameters in dynamic links, the better. One or two parameters are better than ten. It was difficult to get to index with difficult link structure, but modern systems learned to process them. But it’s no good to hope, that web crawler will be enough smart to cope with long link. As a programmer, I always say, that if your function has 6 parameters, than you are more than likely to forget one more. :-);
- static addresses are more preferable than dynamic;
- presence of keywords is better that their absence;
- it’s better to use hyphen to separate keywords;
- you should avoid oversaturation of the hyperlink with keywords: if lots of keywords are used in the link and domain, the page can be regarded as spam.
Using hyphens in titles is not a strict rule. Matt Cutts (head of Google spam fight department) explains using hyphens in his manner in article “Dashes vs underscores”.
There’s an interesting posting on the topic of keywords excessive use “Avoid keyword stuffing”.
Google itself advises to avoid such situations with keyword stuffing and has a technical page with description:
There’s also informative article about oversaturating domain with keywords, which adds nigger in the woodpile into seeming ideal scheme of linking domain and site subject:
Author: Alexander Denisenko. Web programmer. Professionally develops websites for 8 years.