search engine optimization — basics

SEO-Smart URLs

Use SEO-Smart URLs

Users and search engines both reward you for intelligent, readable URLs. For readers, URLs that are shorter have a higher clickthrough rate. Search engines reward you because keywords in your URL help the search engine determine how relevant your content is to a query. URLs frequently contain session IDs, sorting strings and other machine-generated code. Some of this may not be avoidable in your operation, however, if you can create "human readable" URLs make the effort. 

Short, clean, readable URLs can be read over the phone without mistakes, and won't break when forwarded around in emails. Keep in mind also that many people "read" URLs as they're surfing, as a form of navigation breadcrumb system. Seeing that a piece of content is at http://domain.com/articles/sept_2009/mayor_quits/ tells the user a lot about where they are in the overall structure of the site.

Understanding URLs is the first step in learning how to make URLs a part of your SEO workflow. The actual work of changing the URL in WordPress is completely non-technical. 

Here is a great "Cheat Sheet" on URLs from SEOmoz.com — an excellent resource for SEO information. A larger version is available at the original post.

Anatomy of a URL

If your URL is http://kdmctutorial.com/article/2128.html/ the reader cannot determine what the page is about by looking at the URL. However, http://kdmctutorial/seo-basics-tutorial.html/ conveys the content of the page. If the user searches for "SEO Tutorial" both "tutorial" and "seo" would show in bold on the SERP. Do use punctuation in your URLs to improve readability for both readers and search engines. For example, http://kdmctutorial/seo-basics-tutorial.html/ is better than http://kdmctutorial/seobasicstutorial.html/. Use all lowercase in your URLs—lowercase is easier read and to recall. Do not mix www and non-www URLs on your site. In general non-www URLs are preferred because they are shorter.

readable URLs are more clickable

Readable URLs help if your information is included in a blog post. If your URL is used as the anchor text other users are more likely to follow the link and you will get a higher Google relevancy rating for the link by having the keywords in the URL match the content on your site. 

Changing your URL will improve your relevancy in search and will help you appear higher in search results so this is an important element to change. Even more important, "readable" URLs will improve your clickthrough...really the more important goal for your SEO work.