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One of the biggest problems encountered by many working in search engine optimization (SEO) is poor URL structure – and, believe it or not, neglecting the structure of your URLs and allowing them to fall into disarray can have a very detrimental effect on your SEO strategy. Use these tips to help you get your structure right the first time and to fix up some of the more common problems:

Word Delimiters – It really doesn’t matter whether you use hyphens or underscores (although, hyphens tend to work better for SEO and readability), as long as you don’t use some other character or no characters at all.

Length – In terms of URLs, shorter is almost always preferable to longer. In an ideal scenario, you would have no more than five words. Avoid using abbreviations, stop words or really short SEO keywords wherever possible.

Keywords – As you well know, keywords are vital to any effective SEO strategy, so why wouldn’t you include them in your URLs? You need to be careful, however, not to stuff too many keywords into your URL, because this is a black hat SEO technique and you’ll appear less trustworthy to users.

Numbers – One of the biggest problems associated with using numbers in SEO and a URL is that the search engines will occasionally mistake them for dates (if they are laid out in a particular way), which affects your SEO strategy by making the content appear outdated. Avoid numbers if you can.

Redirects – Occasionally, the need to change your URLs may arise (especially if you’re updating your SEO). You should use a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one to prevent any problems arising (and to prevent any issues with your SEO strategy).

Directories – Really, these are only necessary if you’re planning on creating a website that will have over 500 or even 1000 pages – otherwise, directories are optional. They can, however, cost you as they are complex and difficult for the search engines to understand – do you want to risk affecting your SEO strategy?

If you are in the process of employing an SEO company or freelancer to optimize your website in order to receive the best search engine ranking possible, listen to what they say about your URLs. While it may not seem like a URL can have any sort of substantial effect on your site’s SEO, these people are the professionals and you should take what they say into account.

John K Taylor works as a freelance writer for Infinite IT Solutions, a Melbourne based SEO Company. They also offer web services like website design Melbourne, web development and online marketing.

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