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SEO-friendly URLs

The subject is up for much discussion: SEO-friendly URLs. Should or shouldn’t I include the category? Should the URL be as short as possible or is there room for extras? Could an URL be stuffed with keywords or not?

In this post, I’ll explain our take on SEO-friendly URLs and try to elaborate a bit on why we think that is the best option for that link. First, let me tell you that a SEO-friendly URL differs per type of website. In this article, I’ll discuss a few to show the differences. There are a few ground rules, but I strongly encourage you to keep the visitor in mind when setting up your URL structure or picking a slug.

Ground rules for SEO-friendly URLs

No matter what kind of website you have, there are a couple of ground rules that apply to all websites.

  • The main thing to keep in mind is that your URLs should be focused. Strip your URLs of stop words like ‘a’, ‘of’, ‘the’ etc. In 99% of the cases, these words add nothing of value to your URL. If possible, strip your URLs of verbs as well. Words like ‘are’ or ‘have’ are not needed in your URL to make clear what the page is about.
  • The length of your URL isn’t really a factor in this. We do recommend to keep your URLs as short as possible. It’s not that Google doesn’t like lengthy URLs, but shorter URLs are most probably more focused. Keep in mind that if you use breadcrumbs on your site, as we do, these could appear instead of the full URL:

keyword research url

  • Length isn’t that much of an issue: Google will show what they think is important for that visitor. Keep in mind that meta titles and descriptions are cut off at 512 pixels, and so is your URL.
  • Don’t use underscores, as these connect the words and make them into one. Dashes are preferred.

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These are the ground rules for SEO-friendly URLs. The best SEO-friendly URL differs per type of website. Pick your type of site to jump to the information that applies to your website:

SEO-friendly URLs for your company website

If your website holds information about your company and/or services and that is basically it, no matter how many pages you have, I’d go with the shortest URL possible.

http://example.com/contact/
http://example.com/about-us/

SEO-friendly URLs for your online shop

If your website is an online shop, there are two ways to go about:

http://example.com/product-name/
http://example.com/category-name/product-name/

Some content management systems (like Magento) create both. In that case, use rel=”canonical” to point Google to the one you want to appear in Google.

The question remains what URL structure to use. In this case, SEO-friendly URLs should also be helpful URLs for your visitor. If your shop contains categories that make your visitor’s life easier, by all means, include these categories in your URL as well. That way your URL, breadcrumbs, and menu will remind the visitor where they are on your website:

http://example.com/birds/crane
http://example.com/equipment/crane

See what I mean? Decide for yourself if your categories add that value to the product and URL. If so, it’s also better for SEO to include the category, as category and product are very much related.

SEO-friendly URLs for your blog or news site

If your website is a blog or news website, there are a number of ways to construct your URL. Let’s go over these separately:

  • http://example.com/post-title/
    If your site as a whole has a strong coherence, you could consider focusing on the post title and the post title only to create an SEO-friendly URL. The coherence will indicate the main topic of your website to Google, so no need to add that in the URL.
  • http://example.com/category-name/post-title/
    In case that your website is a news website and you’re writing about different topics, adding the topic (for instance as a category name), will make even more clear what the page is about. It’s a bit similar as explained above at SEO-friendly URLs for your online shop.
  • http://example.com/mm/dd/yyyy/post-title/
    If your website features daily news and the news is related to a date, be sure to include that date in the URL as well. If someone is looking for the latest news on Apple’s products, the date in the URL will already show if the page is about this year’s iPhone or not. My recommendation: only use the date in the URL if the date matters.

TL;DR

There is no one way to create the best SEO-friendly URL. It depends on the type of website you have. Especially with a blog or news site, there are multiple options. The main thing is to keep your URLs focused. Besides that, make sure to include all the information that’s important to make clear what the page is about.

Read more:  rel=canonical • What it is and how (not) to use it  »

Category: Technical SEO
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Michiel is one of the partners at Yoast and our COO. He's happily married to Esther and proud father of his two daughters Puck and Linde. He was one of the first bloggers in the Netherlands and co-founded one of the first Dutch blogs about web design and blogging. At Yoast, he works as a senior SEO consultant for both customers and colleagues. And obviously is a daily, heavy user of all of our plugins! Read more about Michiel and find all of his posts »



34 Responses to SEO-friendly URLs

  1. Shawn Martin
    Shawn Martin  • 2 months ago

    This article is great in making a relevant URL for your page, highly recommended for everyone out there.

  2. akbar maulana
    akbar maulana  • 3 months ago

    I have tried to implement some of the above, but I still have not made my blog get a good ranking on Google search.
    what is the cause?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 3 months ago

      Hi Akbar, That’s difficult to say without a decent review, but perhaps you could audit your website yourself? We’ve got a nice series on that: https://yoast.com/seo-audit-part-1/

  3. neeraj singh
    neeraj singh  • 3 months ago

    yeah this helped me a lot !

  4. Kalpana
    Kalpana  • 3 months ago

    Thanks for this informative blog..

  5. Kenny Tripura
    Kenny Tripura  • 3 months ago

    Good informative article. I also like to add that consolidating older urls and 301 redirect them to the new ones for better SEO friendly url’s

  6. https://liveverydays.blogspot.com/
    https://liveverydays.blogspot.com/  • 3 months ago

    I was more than happy to find this page. I want to to thank you
    for your time for this fantastic read!! I
    definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and i also have you book-marked to see new information on your website.

  7. Julian
    Julian  • 3 months ago

    Excellent description of how to best structure SEO friendly URLs – thank you!
    Something I can’t figure out is how to treat Hyphenated words in URLs. In my case, for an ecommerce shop selling t-shirts.

    For example, when used in a URL, should the word t-shirt be used as:
    – example.com/t-shirt (include the hyphen)
    – example.com/tshirt (no hyphen)

    I appreciate any guidance you can provide!

    • Iris Guelen
      Iris Guelen  • 3 months ago

      Hi Julian, you could check to see what keywords your audience uses: do they use t-shirt or tshirt? Otherwise, we would advise to just go with t-shirt (include the hyphen). Hope that’s of help!

  8. Downtown Media
    Downtown Media  • 3 months ago

    This is like reading another language to me. I do not understand – does this mean if my pst is about soda I make it http://example.com/soda flavors?

    If your site as a whole has a strong coherence, you could consider focusing on the post title and the post title only to create an SEO-friendly URL. The coherence will indicate the main topic of your website to Google, so no need to add that in the URL.

  9. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth  • 3 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this information.

  10. Gavin Mills
    Gavin Mills  • 3 months ago

    Awesome mate. SEO is starting to make sense. Big thumbs up to you, your team and Yoast!

    • Iris Guelen
      Iris Guelen  • 3 months ago

      Great to hear that it’s starting to make sense! Thanks for your kind words :)

  11. Jenniferrachels
    Jenniferrachels  • 3 months ago

    This article is informative, well-written and very interesting. I have truly enjoyed reading your own points of view and I agree with you for the most part.

  12. Today's Tech
    Today's Tech  • 3 months ago

    Nice information.

  13. G.sabharwal
    G.sabharwal  • 3 months ago

    Thank for sharing the nice information it is really helpful.

  14. Snehal
    Snehal  • 3 months ago

    Hey Michiel,

    Is it okay if H1 tag and URL is similar? please let me know. Really important for me.

    • Iris Guelen
      Iris Guelen  • 3 months ago

      No worries, that’s fine!

  15. williom jacobe
    williom jacobe  • 3 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this useful information, I will regularly follow your blog.Excellent post, thanks for sharing, it’s indeed very helpful for new blogger like me.

    • Iris Guelen
      Iris Guelen  • 3 months ago

      Glad we could be of help, good luck blogging! :)

  16. Phil
    Phil  • 3 months ago

    I would like to use the following URL on my blog: http://example.com/post-title/
    However, I have been rather confused about how to do that because sometimes that URL will work and other times it produces a 404 error because it is looking for the category name in the URL. I’m not sure why sometimes I need the category in the URL and sometimes I do not.

  17. Imran
    Imran  • 3 months ago

    This is a great post. I have recently started working on an online store that has multiple products for men and women and I tell you right URL helps a great deal to create breadcrumbs that make sense. Both for the search engines and humans.

    • Iris Guelen
      Iris Guelen  • 3 months ago

      Yes exactly, it makes it easier for both search engines and humans! Otherwise it might become quite confusing, indeed. Thanks for your comment Imran!

  18. Jorma J Tontti
    Jorma J Tontti  • 3 months ago

    Great tips!
    I think url should give a feeling about the attitude the website has. Values are important nowadays and one piece of value is URL. It should be both SEO friendly and a strong brand.

    • Iris Guelen
      Iris Guelen  • 3 months ago

      Great addition, Jorma! Thank you :)

  19. Sean Anderson
    Sean Anderson  • 3 months ago

    “Good information provided by you, SEO friendly url is necessary for clients
    And search engine as well.”

  20. Tom
    Tom  • 3 months ago

    I was everytime curious if is good SEO idea to boost keywords in url for example “shoes-online” like this: http://www.example.com/shoes-online/women-shoes.

    • Iris Guelen
      Iris Guelen  • 3 months ago

      It’s always a good idea to describe the product you sell in the URL, but having your keywords in the URL probably won’t give your SEO a boost all that much. It might be an idea to optimize a category page around the specific keyword (e.g. women shoes), that will hopefully have more of an effect. Maybe this article will help some more: https://yoast.com/shop-category-page/. Good luck!

  21. ram raiga
    ram raiga  • 3 months ago

    very helpful information. i try to this in my blog.

  22. Tunde Sanusi (Tuham)
    Tunde Sanusi (Tuham)  • 3 months ago

    While i would have actually love the shortest URL, i don’t think it can work for people who move from Blogger to WordPress as they will need to maintain the DD/MM/YY permalink

    Or do you think there’s anyway to go about it instead?

  23. Paul
    Paul  • 3 months ago

    The advice in this post to include a 3-digit ID in a news url contradicts your own advice elsewhere, and Google’s own advice. https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/news/14XC_m2IdMo

    • Iris Guelen
      Iris Guelen  • 3 months ago

      You’re totally right, Paul! We forgot to exclude this from the article when we updated it. Good catch, thank you! :)


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