URL Structure Tips From Gary Illyes


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Good Morning Everyone...Linda asked me to post this because we get so many questions about URL structure and KWs in URLs. Another sweet post by Jennifer Slegg at The SEM Post


The Importance of URL Structure According to Google

Everyone has had theories for years about URL structure, particularly as it relates to Google rankings. Should you use keywords or no keywords? Should you ever go beyond a single directory or can you safely go three or four deep? The question was raised at SMX Advanced last week about just how important URL structure is, and whether it needs to be short.
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks for sharing for me Justin!

We've always had lots of Qs about directory structure, URL structure and keywords in URLs - but lately it seems it's come up even more.

I really liked this part about what Gary Illyes from Google said:

When asked about keywords in the URL structure, Illyes sarcastic response was “Fill them with important keywords, that’s super important.” In other words, stuffing keywords into your URL structure won’t help it rank better for those keywords.
So to all of you that think your URL structure should be:

mysite.com/mykeyword/mycity/mycityandservicescombined/ That's a little overkill and won't help ranking according to Gary.

He offers some other tips as well, so head over to read the rest.

Thanks Jen!
 

mborgelt

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Great post! This answers a few questions that I have had for a while but brings up a couple others. Based on "Illyes said that the URL structure does matter for discover, however it doesn?t impact ranking", I'm curious if city/service would outrank city-service otc. I guess if you really want to take it to that granular level it just depends on how important getting the page seen is.
 

Laustin1878

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What always makes me laugh with URL structures and using kw's in the URL's is that it's always said that it doesn't help ranking meanwhile, you often see the top ranking sites with keywords throughout the URL. Whether it be sub domains, sub folders, TLD, main domain, etc., they always have good ranking.

I've never taken the time to dissect the site as I'm sure it's not just b/c of the kw's in the URL but for some of the less competitive sites, I can see it helping ever so slightly.

One thing of note that stands out for me is this:
Structure?s Effect on Ranking & Discover

Illyes said that the URL structure does matter for discover, however it doesn?t impact ranking. The further away something is from the root, the longer it will take Google to discover it. ?If it is further away from the root, it signals to us that it must be less important,? Illyes said.
This is especially important for Wordpress sites as natively, they add categories and sub-categories to the URL structure. I've used some plugins with varying degrees of success in removing the category structure from URL's but have often

Regardless, if you have not grasped the concept of creating your website to make it completely USER FRIENDLY then you should start this moment. Looking at a URL with keywords instantly adds credibility to a site in my eyes as opposed to looking at generic, standard URL's with random numbers and letters. You can count on your URL standing a better chance of being remembered by a user as well, if you have kw's in it over the the generic "un-friendly" URL structures.

Think users and you will prevail in the long run.
 

Linda Buquet

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What always makes me laugh with URL structures and using kw's in the URL's is that it's always said that it doesn't help ranking meanwhile, you often see the top ranking sites with keywords throughout the URL. Whether it be sub domains, sub folders, TLD, main domain, etc., they always have good ranking.
Good point Luke. We all know Google tends to favor EMDs and PMDs and like you said, KWs in sub domains, sub folder URLs. So that makes the comment somewhat questionable for local.

Plus I think we've seen several times when Google tells us something is not a ranking factor when it very much seems to be. But still interesting to hear what they have to say publicly and then figure out how it really fits. :confused:
 
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Whether or not Google publicly says keyword in the URL doesn't help rank, I've run dozens of tests with and without and have seen a better impact from having the exact match keyword in the URL string. Obviously you can't have a URL with the keyword "blue snowboards" and the entire page is generically about snowboards. That would create confusion and a bad user experience.

The point Google noted in their Starting SEO (or beginning optimization kit... I forget what it's called), is that the URLs need to represent what the page is about. It's not only treated as a signal for bots to understand the page, but it acts as a breadcrumb so people know where they are on the site.

Always question and test elements Google publicly says help or doesn't help rank. I saw enough high ranking pages with the exact keyword, so I tested and found it helped. Did it help push a page from the 10th page to the first? No. It's a minor impact, but stupid not to try. Think from both sides (bot & user), it helps them both understand where they are on the site & gives a little better understanding for the page. Don't add conflicting keywords, make it accurate. Having the descriptive page focus in the URL helps the site for a variety of reasons. If you're only doing it for rank, then you're not thinking it through all the way.
 

heckler

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With Eric on this. We take everything Google says with a grain-of-salt.

Webpages were initially for sharing of scientific information. They were structured like an outline, so if you're following that basic idea I think you're good to go. If you're obnoxiously shoving in keywords the slug for the sake of keywords, you're doing it wrong.

.02,
 

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