SEO Friendly URL Encoded Page URLs
Before Search Engine Optimization (SEO) became an important part of web development, URL’s were long, cryptic, and sometimes irrelevant. Today, it is widely accepted in the SEO community that your URL’s must be formatted in a way that it is relevant and easy to read. Depending on who your audience is, you may want your URL to be short, or long and detailed. In this article, we will cover the different ways of creating an SEO Friendly URL by proper encoding of your URLs.
If you have a basic website, some of your pages URLs may also look basic. For example, your contact page may have the url:
However, if you had an online store, the URLs to a bicycle sports rack may look like this:
If you are using a Linux web server, you can take advantage of mod_rewrite to make your URL’s more user-friendly. If you are using a modern shopping cart application, it will automatically do this for you. A more user-friendly URL will be short and easier to remember or spell over the phone. Below is an example of a user-friendly URL for the same product above:
The above may be easier to remember or type in your browser because it is meant to be used by a human being. However, in the SEO community, this is not optimized. A consequence of optimizing a URL for a search engine may make the URL longer, but this is on the assumption that a user is more likely to search for a product in a search engine than to type the URL in a browser. Statistics support this assumption. Many search engine queries are from people that type the domain name of the website they are searching for when they could have typed it directly in the browser. This means a user is more likely to search for:
black bicycle sports rack with lock
Therefore, below are some recommended search engine friendly URL’s for the same product above:
http://www.mystore.com/bicycle-sports-rack http://www.mystore.com/black-bicycle-sports-rack http://www.mystore.com/sports-racks/black-bicycle-sports-rack-with-lock
The last URL in the examples above is relevant and detailed. This is the preferred URL for specific products on a page and will outperform generalized URL’s which should be avoided as much as possible. Watch out for extended characters that get automatically URL encoded by your browser but is hidden from the browser’s address bar? A common character that is automatically URL encoded is the space. For example:
http://www.mystore.com/bicycle sports rack
… which is really being URL encoded by your browser as:
This URL is less effective than the SEO optimized URL and at the same time, not user friendly. Other common characters that end up in the URL are single, left/right-side quotes, double quotes. To keep it simple, have a rule in your production that you are to only allow dashes (-) and/or plus (+) to separate words in your URLs.
Following these rules and validating them on a regular basis will eventually turn writing SEO friendly URL’s a habit.