One of my favorite part about offering SEO services is analyzing a potential client’s website from inside and out from both an SEO and web marketing point-of-view. I love being able to point out both strengths and areas to improve. Unfortunately, there are a couple SEO elements in which it’s a lot of work and/or risky to change. Domain name and URL structure. Use these tips to pick a relevant domain name and URL structure and you’ll save yourself hard work and stress later on.
Pick the Right Domain Name
A constant SEO debate is whether to use your brand name or product/main keyword as the domain name. If yours is both- you’ve got it made. Search engines do give value to keyword matching domains, but that’s not always the most appropriate route for all businesses. First, choose the domain name that is most user-friendly. Then, determine if you can successfully add keywords in while keeping it short.
Pick a domain:
- that’s short and memorable.
- that’s easy to say out loud.
- that’s free of dashes.
- Register all other main TLD’s (Top Level Domains) for your domain (.com, .net, .org, etc.) Redirect those to your website.
- Register any domains that involve keywords or services. Redirect these to your website and keep them away from competitors.
Determine Your URL Structure
Leverage your file structures to help aid your search engine rankings. In our older, out-dated post about domain names and URL structure, we used this example that still can be applied today.
You’re website sells sports jerseys. We’ll assume for this example, you sell football, baseball and hockey jerseys. Each of these categories will be the first folder off your domain.
Within this category, you sell 32 NFL team jerseys. The URL will expand into another folder utilizing the team name.
The last step for the user will be selecting an individual product. This will result in the final URL.
Your final product is a very keyword rich URL that sets your page for great search engine results. The following search queries or keywords can be targeted by this URL alone.
“Adrian Peterson Jersey”
“Adrian Peterson Vikings Jersey”
“Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson Jersey”
The above URL structure is a lot more effective than ugly dynamic URLs (brandname.com/products/viewdetail.aspx?ID=3923) or event a static URL like brandname.com/products/mnvike/adrian. If you want to have the best search engine optimization, you need to utilize all on page SEO elements. Having an SEO friendly URL will support the fantastic content you’ve written for each page…. right? Plus, with URLs like these, chances are you’ll be miles ahead of competitors who are probably using dynamic or poorly written static URLs.
Hypens vs. Underscore Debate
I’m actually confused as to why this is still a debate. As stated by Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, Google “joins” words separated by underscores.
/football_jerseys is read as /footballjerseys
/football-jerseys is read as /football-jerseys
A quick summary, use hypens, people! They are user-friendly and SEO friendly. A perfect combination.
Video below if you need more proof or explanation.
Takeaway: Take advantage of what you have control over. In SEO, a lot of factors are out of your control, but domain name and URL structure isn’t. Have questions? Comment below or find me on Twitter.
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