Search engines are powered with softwares that are called as robots and spiders to follow website, gather information and sort the URLs according to the relevancy with title, description and content of the websites.
The websites are located through their URL addresses. So, to smooth away the sorting and indexing process, search engines evaluate the structure of a URL to instantly retrieve the information and show it in the result pages accordingly. Online users tend to enter a query in the search bar to get the most matching results. There, the URL along with title and descriptions is among the major factors to bring about results that resemble the keyword or phrase.
Search engines are continuously improving the algorithm to stop spamming and screen out websites that are under performing in order to enhance user experience. To provide real time, relevant and accurate results, most of the companies have to refine ranking factors, and URL of among one of those hundreds of signals that enhances online visibility. The structure of URLs matters a lot to the search engine for the following reasons.
URL defines a business
The main website of a business corresponds its name and nature, so there must be a consistency between the URL and the industry you have been working. Most of the companies have more than one website, which covers different regions, languages and product lines, whereas the core website has to be correlated with the primary activities.
The search engine highly emphasizes the relevance of a URL with the title and description of the entire website, so that customers are served with their desired results. The online users are less likely to visit a store that has a different URL than the title. E.g. one will hardly dare to click something like this in the search results.
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URL structure communicates more than what we expect
URL structure majorly comprises a protocol, domain name, directory and file name which shows the segregation of a website in different categories, products, services and CMS pages. It helps search engine spiders to locate the entire website to evaluate the popularity of an individual page.
A well defined structure of a website may seek like this,
Here, the domain name is followed by a category of laptops and the subcategory of Dell, which allow search-robots to understand the structure of a website and the relation between categories. This assists the spiders to store pages accordingly and rank category pages for enhanced visibility.
Most of the users tend to skip product pages and want to land a category page without searching again. They are used to edit the URL and go with the rest of the link address, e.g. most of the users delete ‘dell’ from the above mentioned link and go with
to learn more about the products available under the head of laptops. Creating an unstructured URL will not facilitate robots in understanding your store, which will eventually keep away visitors from other category pages.
Recommeded Module: Pretty Urls by FMEModules
URLs are evaluated for keywords
The famous search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo gives priority to commonly search words and phrases in the URL that are also mentioned on the product and CMS pages. For example, the name of the product shall be included in the title, URL and description on the page.
The online stores have a variety of products that are listed on individual pages. To make each page stand out from the rest, the keywords must be included in the URL and the content. You might have experienced the inclusion of keywords of a blog-post in its link address.
To Make the URLs Scanable
Since the ultimate goal of a search engine is to serve the end consumer with the most reliable results, that’s why the robots are programmed to evaluate the readability of the URLs, so that visitors can instantly scan them and find they have been searching for.
The internet users often click links blindly, as they are unaware of the technical aspects that need to be checked before relying on a website. They are unaware of a page they are visiting, so to ease them in scanning the URL, human readable words are included in the link address. This is the reason that search-bots are highly focused on the usefulness of the URLs and prefer the use of text over numbers and signs.
Making It Understandable
The special characters in the URLs like ?, &, @, #, %, $ and numbers make it hard for the readers to understand the address. In the same way, the search spiders also find it difficult to interpret a website. To retrieve promising results to the users, search engines strictly prohibits the use of such extraneous characters.
For example, a robot may fail to understand the purpose and affiliation of this URL http://fmemodules.com/?page6452 with the product or content it exhibits, so how it could help consumers identify the page? The marketers are now more concerned about cleaning the web address of a website in order to remove the ambiguities for the end user and the robots too.
Search engines are much careful about the structure of a URL as their founders are committed to enhancing meaningfulness and understandability of the web addresses. One of the major goals is to achieve consistency of a link with its title, keywords and description to prevent spamming the web and deceiving internet users.
The domain name of a website is often suggested to be short and memorable, whereas the file names and subcategories are also desired to be understandable, so that more information can be delivered in a word or two. For the same reason, most of the developments in refining URL structure revolve around the clarity of the text and removal of useless numbers.
Check the infographic on tips for url structuring in PrestaShop here;
Infographic by – FME Modules