When it comes to optimizing your website for search engines, every little detail matters. One crucial aspect that often gets overlooked is the URL structure. In this article, we will explore the importance of URL structure for SEO and user experience, as well as provide you with best practices to follow.
So, whether you are a website owner on BigCommerce or an SEO enthusiast, get ready to dive into the world of URL structure and unlock the potential for better rankings and user engagement.
- Understand the components of a URL, from the protocol to the path
- Discover the different URL structures based on website purpose
- Learn how URL structure impacts user experience and navigation
- Uncover the connection between URL structure and PageRank
- Implement SEO best practices for creating optimized URLs
- Follow guidelines for maintaining a good URL structure
- Utilize HTTPS protocol and relevant keywords for better SEO
Understanding the Components of a URL for BigCommerce
Before we delve into the importance of URL structure for SEO for BigCommerce, it’s essential to understand the different components that make up a URL. Each component plays a crucial role in determining how a web page is accessed and identified. Let’s take a closer look at these components:
The protocol is the first part of a URL and indicates how the browser should retrieve the information from the web page. The most common protocols are HTTP and HTTPS, with the latter being the secure version. Using HTTPS is not only important for security but also for SEO, as it is a ranking signal for Google.
The subdomain is the part of the domain that comes before the main “root” domain. It allows you to create separate sections or categories within your website. While you can have multiple subdomains, it’s important to use them judiciously and only when necessary. Avoid having too many subdomains, as it can lead to confusion and dilute your website’s authority.
The domain name is the unique address where a website is located. It serves as the main identifier for your website and should be chosen carefully to reflect your brand or business. A memorable and relevant domain name can make it easier for users to remember and access your website.
Top-Level Domain (TLD)
The top-level domain refers to the extension at the end of a domain name, such as .com, .org, or .net. There are numerous TLDs available, and choosing the right one depends on the nature of your website and its target audience. It’s important to select a TLD that aligns with your brand and industry.
The path refers to the specific location of a page, post, or file within a website. It helps users and search engines navigate through the different sections of your website. A well-structured path can make it easier for users to find the information they are looking for and improve the overall user experience.
Now that we have a clear understanding of the components of a URL, let’s explore how different URL structures can impact your website’s SEO and user experience.
Different URL Structures: A Guide for Website Owners
When it comes to URL structures, one size does not fit all. The way you structure your URLs depends on the unique needs and purpose of your website. In this section, we will explore the variation in URL structures based on website purpose and provide you with best practices for maintaining a proper URL structure. Let’s dive in!
Variation in URL Structures Based on Website Purpose
URL structures can vary greatly depending on the purpose of the website. Different types of websites have different requirements and goals, which influence the way their URLs are structured. Here are a few examples:
Blog websites often have a URL structure that includes the date and the title of the blog post. This helps organize the content chronologically and makes it easier for readers to navigate through the blog archives. For example, a blog post about “The Best Pancake Recipes” might have a URL like:
eCommerce websites typically have a URL structure that includes categories, subcategories, and product names. This hierarchical structure helps organize the products and makes it easier for users to find what they’re looking for. For example, a product page for a “Blue Women’s T-Shirt” might have a URL like:
Membership websites often have a URL structure that includes the member’s username or ID. This allows for personalized and secure access to member-only content. For example, a member profile page for “JohnDoe” might have a URL like:
These are just a few examples of how URL structures can vary based on website purpose. It’s important to choose a URL structure that aligns with your website’s goals and makes sense for your content organization.
Best Practices for Maintaining a Proper URL Structure
No matter what type of website you have, there are some best practices you should follow to maintain a proper URL structure. These practices will not only improve your website’s SEO but also enhance the user experience. Here are some tips:
Keep URLs Simple and Descriptive
Use URLs that are simple, easy to read, and descriptive of the content on the web page. Avoid using random numbers or characters that don’t provide any meaning. For example, instead of
https://www.example.com/index.php?id_wca=470&clcp27sap, use a URL like
https://www.example.com/pancake-recipes for a page about pancake recipes.
Use Hyphens to Separate Words
When creating URLs, use hyphens to separate words instead of underscores or spaces. Hyphens are more search engine-friendly and make it easier for both users and search engines to read and understand the URL. For example, use
https://www.example.com/blue-womens-t-shirt instead of
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
While it’s important to include relevant keywords in your URLs, avoid keyword stuffing. Only include keywords that are necessary and provide a clear understanding of what the page content is about. Keyword stuffing can make your URLs look spammy and negatively impact your SEO. Keep it concise and focused.
Redirect Old URLs
If you make changes to your URL structure or update old URLs, make sure to set up proper redirects. This ensures that users and search engines are directed to the new URLs and don’t encounter any broken links. Use 301 redirects for permanent changes and 302 redirects for temporary changes.
By following these best practices, you can maintain a proper URL structure that is both user-friendly and search engine-friendly. Now that you understand the importance of URL structure and how it varies based on website purpose, let’s explore why URL structure matters for SEO and user experience in the next section.
Importance of URL Structure for User Experience
When it comes to optimizing your website for search engines, it’s not just about keywords and backlinks. The URL structure of your web pages plays a crucial role in improving user experience and overall website performance. In this section, we will explore why URL structure matters for user experience and how you can create a website that is intuitive and easy to navigate.
Organizing Content with Page Hierarchies
One of the key benefits of having a well-structured URL is that it helps organize your website’s content in a logical and hierarchical manner. By using a clear and consistent URL structure, you can create a website that is easy to navigate and understand for both users and search engines.
For example, let’s say you have a blog website with multiple categories and subcategories. By including these categories and subcategories in your URL structure, you can create a clear hierarchy that reflects the organization of your content. This makes it easier for users to find the information they are looking for and navigate through your website with ease.
Creating Intuitive and Easy-to-Navigate Websites
URL structure plays a crucial role in creating an intuitive and user-friendly website. When users see a URL that is descriptive and easy to understand, they are more likely to click on the link and explore your website further. On the other hand, if the URL is long, confusing, or filled with random characters, users may be hesitant to click on it.
By using SEO-friendly URLs that include relevant keywords and accurately describe the content of the web page, you can create a positive user experience. Users will have a clear understanding of what to expect when they click on a link, which can lead to higher engagement and lower bounce rates.
Using SEO-Friendly URLs for Better User Experience
SEO-friendly URLs not only benefit search engines but also improve the overall user experience. When you optimize your URLs with descriptive keywords, you provide users with a clear understanding of what the page content is about. This helps them make informed decisions about whether to click on the link and explore your website further.
For example, let’s say you have a website about pancake recipes. Instead of using a URL like
https://www.example.com/page?id=12345, you can create a more user-friendly URL like
https://www.example.com/pancake-recipes. This URL clearly indicates that the web page is about pancake recipes, making it more enticing for users to click on.
By using SEO-friendly URLs, you not only improve the user experience but also increase the likelihood of your web pages being clicked on and shared. This can lead to higher traffic, better engagement, and ultimately, improved rankings in search engine results.
How URL Structures Inform Google About Page Content
URL structures play a crucial role in informing search engines like Google about the content of a web page. When search engine bots crawl a website, they analyze the URL structure to understand the hierarchy and organization of the pages. This information helps search engines determine the relevance and context of each page, which in turn affects how the page is ranked in search results.
Internal Linking and Its Impact on PageRank
Internal linking refers to the practice of linking to other pages within your own website. When you include internal links in your content, you are providing search engines with additional information about the relationships between different pages on your site. This helps search engines understand the structure and importance of each page, and can contribute to higher rankings in search results.
For example, if you have a blog post about “The Best Pancake Recipes” and you include internal links to other related blog posts, such as “How to Make Fluffy Pancakes” or “Healthy Pancake Alternatives,” search engines will recognize the relevance and authority of your content. This can improve the overall PageRank of your website and increase its visibility in search results.
Using HTTPS Protocol for Security and Credibility
Using the HTTPS protocol is crucial for both security and credibility. HTTPS is the secure version of the HTTP protocol, and it encrypts communication between the browser and the website. This ensures that sensitive information, such as credit card details or personal data, is protected from hackers.
Having a secure website instills trust in users and can improve your website’s credibility. Users are more likely to make a purchase or share their personal information on a website that has a secure connection. Additionally, HTTPS is a ranking signal for Google, meaning that websites with SSL certificates are more likely to rank higher in search results.
Hiding the www Prefix for a Cleaner Domain
The www prefix used to be necessary to indicate a website domain. However, nowadays, it’s not necessary to include it in your URLs. In fact, including the www prefix can make your URLs longer and less visually appealing. Most modern browsers hide the www prefix in the address bar, as it’s not essential information to display.
To create a cleaner domain, it’s recommended to hide the www prefix and redirect the www version to the naked domain. This not only makes your URLs shorter but also improves the overall aesthetics of your website. For example, instead of
https://www.example.com, you can use
https://example.com as your website’s URL.
Customizing Page URLs to Be Relevant and Descriptive
Customizing your page URLs to be relevant and descriptive is crucial for both SEO and user experience. A descriptive URL provides users with a clear understanding of what the page content is about before they even click on the link. It also helps search engines understand the relevance and context of the page.
When customizing your page URLs, use keywords that accurately describe the content of the page. Avoid using randomly generated numbers or characters that don’t provide any meaning. For example, instead of
https://www.example.com/page?id=12345, use a URL like
https://www.example.com/pancake-recipes for a page about pancake recipes.
Submitting Sitemap in Google Search Console for Up-to-Date SERPs
After your website goes live and whenever you make changes to your page URLs, it’s important to submit your sitemap in Google Search Console. A sitemap is a file that lists all the pages on your website and provides valuable information to search engines about the organization and structure of your site.
By submitting your sitemap, you ensure that search engines immediately crawl and index your pages, keeping the search engine results pages (SERPs) up-to-date with your site. This helps improve the visibility and discoverability of your web pages in search results.
URL structure plays a crucial role in optimizing websites for search engines and users. A well-thought-out URL boosts indexing, enhances navigation, and clarifies content hierarchy. Prioritizing the right protocol and crafting descriptive paths increase site visibility and user engagement.
Beyond just SEO, a URL’s structure builds user trust and credibility. Secure, HTTPS-enabled URLs signal safety, while clear paths preview content. For website owners and SEO experts, perfecting URL structure improves rankings and user interactions.
Learn more about how to ace your game on BigCommerce: BigCommerce’s Sitemap Features: Maximizing Crawl Efficiency and Coverage