Questions abound as to the correct techniques to use to make a URL SEO friendly. Or, to put it another way, what is the process to choose a particular URL that will make the search engines happy? If you have been building web sites for any length of time, you already know that in order to have a chance at decent rankings in the SERPS (search engine results pages), you must follow some SEO rules. While there are many other aspects of proper SEO to consider when building pages and making them “visible” on the Internet, I am going to stick to just one for now. That is, how to choose an SEO friendly URL.
Before I get into what makes a URL SEO friendly, perhaps just a little background information is called for in order to help you understand its importance. As the Internet advanced and grew over the years, so did its users. So much so that millions of web sites currently exist. How then, is your web site going to be found among all of the other web sites? That question used to be easy to answer. Simply use keywords, lots of them, and watch your traffic grow. However, that’s just not the case anymore. The Google Panda/Penguin updates are taking care of that, and will continue to do so going forward. My point here is that Google and every other major search engine simply will not index your site if the content is weak, not original or “stuffed” with keywords. This fact alone makes it much harder to rank in the SERPS than it did only a few years ago. This is one major reason why having an SEO friendly URL is so important. Here are 3 tips for an SEO friendly URL:
Tip #1: Relevance matters
First and foremost, the URL for your site must be relevant to the topic of your site. For example, if your site is about travel, your URL must be one that relates to travel in some way. This is where many mistakes are made in choosing the correct URL. If a search is performed for “travel”, it is likely that over 4 million sites would be listed! Obviously, the competition is too great and would be a waste of time trying to win this niche. With that in mind, here is Tip #2:
Tip #2: Keywords
In order to find the best URL for your web site, you must understand how to perform effective keyword research. Not only will using proper keywords make your URL relevant, it will also go a very long way toward helping your web site find its way to the first page of the SERPS, or even near the top of the first page. Proper keyword research will eventually lead you to a “niche within a niche”. Your research will uncover a smaller niche within the broad “travel” niche in my example, which you may find has winnable competition with a lot of demand. Once you have found this smaller niche, you can create your URL based on this research. Now that you have a relevant and “in demand” keyword without too much competition, you can focus on Tip #3:
Tip #3: Is it .COM, .NET, or .ORG or one of the new TLDs?
This question comes up often. Which extension should I use on my URL? Simply put, popularity is key. In addition to the .com extension, recently released TLD (top level domain) extensions are now available. This change represents a huge upgrade for domain names and the rollout will continue well into 2015. With this new and welcome change, it’s now possible to target, via the domain itself, a specific keyword. For example, a new domain for “tips” could now be called, www.domain.tips instead of www.domaintips.com. See the difference? This is but a small example of what is to come in the near future.
Still, the .com extension is by far the most popular and therefore, the most common. This extension is considered a business extension, so it is probably the best to use, provided your name choice is still available. In fact, I will stress here that if your chosen URL with the .com extension is taken, do not take the easy route and purchase a .net version. Instead, look at your list of properly researched keywords and find another relevant keyword for your URL with the .com extension or one of the new extensions now available. I realize that this might create more work for you, but trust me on this, when it comes to SEO, the extra time spent will be worth it! Once you have your new URL registered, go ahead and take the .com and .net version so you won’t have to worry about competition for your URL. Another extra step you can take is to buy up any other URLs with similar spellings so there is no confusion for your visitors who might misspell your URL. As a final word regarding the .org extension, unless your web site is specifically designed for information and will never be monetized (to make money), do not use it.