WHY

  • Describes what the page is about.
  • URIs with keywords get better rank.
  • Keyword path URIs help secondary pages gain rank.

The more closely related the page name, page URI and page content are, the better your page will do in search results. Sometimes your domain name might not give any clues as to what you offer. Concise page URIs become more important because Google likes to see page URLs that accurately represent their content. Your visitors will end up appreciating that too.

HOW

Page URIs can be Powerful SEO Tools

Page URIs are probably second behind domain names as the most powerful way to get top ranking in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Most people name their secondary pages with generic names like “About Us” or “Contact Us”, but these add little if any value if the title is used in the page URI. It’s possible with many websites to set custom URLs so that pages with broad or unattractive names can get top ranking by incorporating a keyword or keyword phrase into the URI. Just like domain names, Page URIs could lead to top ranking in searches for irrelevant keywords.

The best URIs for SEO are ones that you as a human can read and figure out what the pages will be about. Think of it as a newspaper headline. Ever noticed how cleverly these are written? Even though they have words missing, you can easily figure out what the article is about. Do the same for your URIs. Also consider the URL path. This is where the page is a sub-page of a another page or directory and looks like this: http://mydomainname.co.nz/directory-name/my-page-name/. If you use pages in a path, try to make the whole URL be meaningful. If you manage that for a human reader, then you probably nailed the SEO aspect too.

Page URIs How-To

An example of a page URI:

www.abc.co.nz/pageuri.html

Setting your page URIs is not so straight forward. Many website CMSs don’t allow you to set a custom URI and bases the actual URI on either the page title, or linking text used to access the page.

If you do have control though, then page URLs can really be quite powerful in the way they assist search engine ranking. Taking a look at the pages that rank well in Google for a particular search phrase, you’ll find plenty of evidence that page URLs that hit some or all of the keywords being searched are ranking well, against pages that have the same words in their Meta Description or Page Titles. When combined with the domain name, the page URL can multiply its effect on ranking.

The ideal URL includes an indication of what your page is about, but also uses keywords for that specific page.

In most eCommerce systems, page URLs are generated from the product title. It’s here where it is important not to use a very loose phrase as the product title, like “Large Sizes” for example, or “12 pack”. Large sizes, or 12 packs of what?

Common pages in a website are Home, About Us, Contact Us, Testimonials, FAQ etc. Thinking about what these words mean, you can see that they offer no value for SEO as their meaning bear no relationship with what’s on offer on your website. While it’s appropriate for your menu title to be “About Us” because your human visitor is already viewing your site, the page URL might be better as something like “About the SEO Services Team”, which incorporates the keyword phrase “seo services”.

The worst page URLs are ones that are automatically generated based on when you created the page, or as an “index” number within the CMS, for example /12597.html. Such a URL offers no SEO value at all.

If you have no control over these, don’t despair, there are plenty of other SEO things you can do to optimise your website, but maybe consider changing or upgrading your website at some stage.

Things to Note

Page URLs logically need to be on-topic for the page, so don’t just simply plug a bunch of keywords into them in the hope to get ranking. Keyword stuffing is negative for SEO, and even worse for your visitor to be attracted to your page with false promise.

Ideally, pages URLs should make the entire URL no longer than 117 characters long. That includes your domain name and the “www” part.

Page URLs have very limited character types that can be used, so special characters get converted into code, like “%20” which represents a “space”. It’s fine to split words using “dash” (-), they will still be able to be broken into separate words by search engines.

Page URLs combine with your domain name to form larger keyword phrases. i.e. if you domain name was “deals” (www.deals.co.nz) and your page URL was “week”, then a search for “deals of the week” would possibly render your page favourably as it hits two of the words in the search phrase, built from the domain+pageURL. Better still if you can hit on more of the searched words. Matching against longer search phrases like this is making it possible for your page to highly refine the traffic being referred, however the stats for actual numbers of searches for those long phrases become less the more words you add to the phrase. Long phrases like these are call “long-tail” keywords. Page URLs are a great way to gather traffic for long-tail keyword searches with highly qualified traffic.

An example of this is this website. My domain name is “seo services”, and a page is called “seo services”, so the page gathers traffic for searches on “seo services” or “search engine optimisation services” as well. The commercial intent of such a search is fairly high, and therefore much more likely to result in conversion.