Who knew there was such a thing as unfriendly URLs?
Friendly URLs are quite simply URLs that are written with the user in mind. They’re keyword-rich, but also short and sweet.
Why do URLs need to be friendly?
Why might you strive to make your URLs friendly? Because not only do your audience need to know where they’re being directed. But by creating friendly URLs, you’re helping the search engines, i.e. Google, better understand the content you’ve created.
- You’ve written the most fantastic, in-depth, relevant content you possibly can.
- You’ve added your title tags.
- You’ve dropped in just the right number of keywords.
- You’ve used the best link anchor text.
But if you then allow the page URL to be a load of gobbledegook, a long string of numbers, letters and special characters, it doesn’t look good. As in, it doesn’t look good aesthetically. And it doesn’t look safe. It looks like it could be a dodgy link. And no one is going to click on a dodgy link in this day and age.
How to make your URLs friendly?
So how do you make your URLs friendly so they appeal to both your target audience and Google?
1. Include keywords
Include your page’s target keyword in the URL. This not only tells your audience, at a glance, what the page is going to be about, it also gives Google a head’s up too.
In fact, the Gods at Google have advised page managers:
“URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site.”
What else can you do to make your keywords stand out in your URL?
2. Add hyphens between the words
Say you’re trying to rank for ‘how to make your URLs friendly’, you maybe want to create a URL such as:
It shows your audience (and the search engines) that the words are separate, thus making it easier to read and understand. Can you use anything to create a space between words in your URLs? Google Gods advise not to:
“Consider using punctuation in your URLs. We recommend that you use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs.”
3. Keep URLs short
Long URLs only serve to confuse the reader and Google.
URLs that look like junk, don’t look safe. And no one is going to knowingly click an unsafe link. Plus, if your URL is overly complicated, you’re just making life harder for the Google autobots, and you want those bad boys on side.
Make sure the URLs of EVERY page on your website has a short URL. It all contributes towards your final location in the SERP (search engine results page). And that’s what you’re trying to improve after all.
Fun fact – short URLs improve the click-through rate of your target audience, and in the long list of search engine ranking factors, click-through rate is pretty high up in terms of importance.
Who is going to click on a link that reads: www.example.com/3h7r8h4y8h?
4. Create URLs in lowercase
Some, not all, but some search engines see a difference between words that are capitalised and words that aren’t, and treat them as such. To err on the side of caution, stick to lowercase letters, even if your URL contains a name. It’s just easier all around.
5. Don’t include dates in the URL
One reason you don’t include dates in the URL is because you want the page to be timeless. Including a date in the URL may make it easier for you to categorise pages, but it makes for a longer URL. And long URLs aren’t friendly.
Also, it makes it more difficult for you to keep the content up to date. Because if you want to make sure the content is relevant to users, you’ll want to update it regularly.
But, if the URL includes a date, even a year in it, that creates an automatic disconnect between the URL and page contents. I.e. if you wrote a blog post all about ‘how to make your URLs friendly 2019’, but now, you want to update it to include tips to make URLs friendly in 2020, the title and the content won’t marry up.
Yes, you could create a 301 redirect to a new URL, but what if you want to update the page in 2021? And then in 2022? That’s a lot of redirects for the Google autobots to follow, and more redirects makes their life harder. And we know we get rewarded for making Google’s life easier…
The simple way around this is to not include dates in your URLs. Period. Go ahead and include them in the page title, you can update that every time you update the content, keeping the page fresh without touching the URL.
5. Don’t use the blog title as the URL
This might sound counterintuitive, but if you use the whole blog post title as the URL, it not only makes for a ridiculously long URL, and we’ve already covered why URLs want to be short and sweet. But, again, like the date thing above, it makes it harder for you to update the content, should you wish to in the future.
For example, if you have a blog post titled ‘The ultimate case study to make URLs friendly’, and the URL reads: www.example.com/ultimate-case-study-to-make-URLs-friendly, but at a later date you decide you want the case study to become an in-depth user guide, but the URL title still reads ‘case study’, there’s an instant disconnect.
Which is why we recommend just using the target keyword or phrase in the URL, i.e. www.example.com/make-URLs-friendly, that way it doesn’t matter if the page content is about a case study, which you update to a white paper, which you change to an article. As long as the page is all about making URLs friendly, you’re covered.
So, if you need help with making URLs friendly, get in touch with us today. We’ll help.