One aspect of your website that can go a long way to improving your SEO rank is URL structure. What's a URL? A URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is essentially the address to your website. For example, protocol 80's URL is www.protocol80.com. If your business has a website there's a pretty good chance you also have a URL, but have you ever taken a look at how your URL changes as you navigate around your website? URL structure often gets overlooked, but in today's post I'm going to show you the right and wrong ways to format your website's address.
Dave's Tea and Treats
Alright, it's time for another hypothetical! Say I owned a quaint little restaurant called Dave's Tea and Treats that served hot, tasty beverages and gourmet snacks throughout the day created by none other than the finest pastry chef within a 90 mile radius. I have a website located at http://www.davesteaandtreats.com that I want to urge all of my customers to visit in order to learn about our daily specials. Since donut sales are down, I create a new special for 50% off a dozen donuts and link it on my Facebook page with the following URL:
Donuts are 50% off this week, come and get em'! - http://www.davesteaandtreats.com/Menu.aspx?MealID=5918&ItemID=4583
What can my customers tell about this URL off-hand? Let's break it down. First we have http://www.davesteaandtreats.com - that's my web address. Then we have /Menu.aspx, that's probably the menu page on the Dave's Tea and Treats website...but what's all that junk after that? There's a question mark followed by MealID=5918&ItemID=4583. There's a good chance that this part of the URL will be absolutely meaningless to your customers, but more importantly it doesn't tell search engines anything about the content found on that page. A developer can look at that URL and tell that MealID=5918 and ItemID=4583 are query strings used to tell the page which item to show, in this case the breakfast item donuts. If that's the case, wouldn't life be so much easier if the URL was formatted like the one below?
It most-certainly would! This new URL gives search engines a much better idea of what's on the page, and since a lot of my business is pastry-related there's a good chance it'll help me rank for keywords I'm interested in ranking for, such as breakfast, or donuts.
That's all well and good to know if you're in the early stages of planning a website project, but what if your website's URLs already look like my first example, with lots of question marks and ampersands throughout? The good news is there's a technique that any crafty developer can implement called URL rewriting that'll fool a browser into showing clean URL structure like /menu/breakfast/donuts in place of ugly, non-SEO friendly ones like MealID=5918&ItemID=4583. This will help your website rank better in search engines like Google and make your site more useable for customers as well! If you're considering a website redesign, or want squeeze a little more SEO juice out of it, talk to your developer about URL rewriting. You'll be glad you did.