Discussion 3: URL Structure Optimization
shared a link.
URL Structure & SERPS
If you have a site carinsurancesaver.com and you want to rank for 'best car insurance'.
1) I've always been taught not to repeat keywords in URLS.
2) I've always been taught to check the SERPs to see what Google favors. (Inner pages, vs homepages, etc.)
NOW the issue is:
Google favors inner pages AND the competitors all have '/best-car-insurance/' in the URLS.
Do I go with:
Since Google now shows URLS I'm tempted to go with the first but now not sure.
Anybody done any testing and can share their experiences?
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I don't think Google considers "best" as a separate keyword in URLs it would be better to go with something like -car-insurance-options where you can provide more value to the visitor. and target 'best' on the page level.
What's your take on generally repeating keywords in an URL?
Based on everything I've read and seen personally URLs aren't that powerful as an SEO factor (beyond the root domain)…
I didn't want to rely on that though so I actually scraped 10,000 URLs…
I found only 55% of sites in the top 10 had their main keyword in the URL as an Exact Match.
Even in the position 1 and 2 spots it was only 64%…
A lot of those in positions 1 and 2 had URLs like this:
The sites which did have Exact Match URL also had all their other SEO Factors well optimized. So this alone gives you some idea as to how focusing on the URL in those cases could be an unreliable way to gauge it's effectiveness. That being said it could also point to show us that it can help to match the H1, Title and URL closely. Though I personally think it's more likely a spurious correlation.
The things that actually correlated strongly, which I would say is anything 80% plus, was Domain Rating and Keyword in Title. Keyword in H1 was only 61% in the top 10. So there was quite a big difference there to point to URL and H1 being significantly less important in the sense that a lot of sites don't match these to their main keywords and still rank for it.
I'm not sure where you read point 1 or who taught you that, but the data just doesn't support what they're saying. The data and small amounts that Google have said tells us that it doesn't matter that much these days.
I agree with your 2nd point. It's always a good idea to look at what others are doing as a general rule of thumb. So based on that and what I've said here I think option #1 is your best bet.
If you want to play it safe then go for the middle ground:
My approach these days is pick a URL Structure and stick with it. There are rarely positive outcomes from switching URLs as there are a lot of downsides and little benefit. So if you've already got the URL setup just keep it as is.
Soham » Daniel
Thanks for sharing this mate. Love it!
But you recommended: carinsurancesaver.com/car-insurance/
I’m just confused why this since the main kw is “best car insurance”? Just trying to get clarity on your “play it safe” option. Cheers.
Daniel » Soham
I was going to publish it last year, but AuthorityHacker did something very similar so I decided not to.
What they did was ultimately way more interesting since they were able to check over a million URLs!
That being said, they found very similar things to what I did with such a small sample size.
Mainly that Exact Match URLs didn't matter as much as generally believed.
They also found that smaller URLs tended to rank better, and this again is why a lot of people always suggest not having /category/ in the URL as it unnecessarily increases the URL Length.
This doesn't mean less words = generally better though which is why some people try to game it.
They actually included some awesome data about non-exact match keywords in URL.
This correlated strongly, e.g. having at least one or more keywords in there somewhere.
So this again is another reason to not make your URLs as short as possible.
2-3 words is what I personally aim for.
Bottom line though is that Mark Webster and Gaël Breton proved that URL just isn't that important compared to other factors and I think it's a study that doesn't get nearly enough attention in the industry.
What Scraping & Analyzing 1.1 Million Search Results Taught Us About The Way Google Ranks
Soham » Daniel
Awesome, I’ll read that later tonight.
But, the URL that you recommended had “car insurance” in the domain name as well as the page too.
carinsurancesaver.com/car-insurance/ – this looks spammy tbf, don’t you think?
Alex ✍️ » Daniel
Thanks for the detailed response! I actually read that report twice on AH! My thinking was actually for user CTR as URLS are now showing. If I see '/best-car-insurance/' vs '/car-insurance/' and I'm wanting to read some reviews I'd click on the first one. Good to know from an SEO perspective there's not much in it.
Daniel » Soham
Yeah that’s a good point it might not look great to the user! I don’t think there’d be an issue with Google if the homepage was done right. I’d only worry about potential cannibalisation if it wasn’t!
Soham » Daniel
Funniest part about most of the SEO conversations is we will never really know the real truth 😂
Daniel » Soham
There's always a lot of randomness involved for sure, we'll never know everything. I think that this is why correlation studies are actually more important than people give them credit for as a starting point for rough ideas.
Discussion 2: URL Structure Optimization
Any silo/site structure experts in the house?
If I'm targeting 'best golf shoes' & 'best golf shoes for men' and 'best golf shoes for women'.
1) Would you have 1 massive article 'best golf shoes' with men & women stuff on it (not good for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) though – If I saw a post and it had women golf shoes, I'd leave it asap.)
2) Would you have a parent page like /best-golf-shoes/ and then /best-golf-shoes/men/ & /best-golf-shoes/women/, with the parent linking to the sub?
3) Something else.
They're topically so similar but SO different. So not quite sure how to handle this mess.
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from my testing, urls have little help to establish significant difference between 2 closely related topics. On the other hand, Google want you to write authority and topically theme site (not generic information). My advise to you: do not worry about cannibalization if what you are doing makes sense. You can use internal linkings to establish this difference, but sometimes, be aware that it does not work
Jonathan » Alex
Here I created a quick visualization for you, this may help!
Basically a hero page that talks about the best golf shoes and then sub pages specially designed to talk about the different types.
Additionally they can then lead out to product review pages that go into more detail.
In golf especially, as its a hobby, people spend more time researching the product, so I would make sure to include a solid amount of info to avoid them abandoning your site to find "more info".
The blog posts can then be general content about the niche and contextually link back to product and buyers guides.
And if this were your actual niche you could easily create an infographics of how to pick the right shoe for the right weather/ terrain etc.
Hope it helps!
Wow – thanks! That's awesome. It's the exact structure I have setup. It took ages to roll out to different categories on my site. The issue is my rankings have now tanked, so I'm second guessing myself. I can only assume I need some more links at the 'best golf shoes' and then the sub pages for women & men.
Jonathan » Alex
I guess now your job is to analyze what may have "gone wrong" for the site to tank. OR if anything went wrong.
It is not uncommon that a site goes for a wobble when a new structure has been deployed.
Was the structure different or is it just a new silo you added?
Could be a million things though.
I would recommend that you have a browse and take some notes, and if all else fails, always happy to take a look at it for you mate 🙂
Alex ✍️ » Jonathan
thanks. I will def take you up on that offer! First need to do some more analysis myself. I was second guessing my structure so wanted to check I hadn't missed something obvious!
Awesome! Good luck my friend!
I had this dilemma for quite some time so I tested different alternatives. It all boils down to how different the subjects really are. To give you an example: I had issues ranking for cheap + name of the category. It ranked better if I had a special section on the page just for cheap alternatives and a clear to action form the beginning to let people know you have a "chapter" that speaks about cheap alternatives. The same goes with brands. When in discussion was a clear characteristic ( comfortable) or usage ( best golf shoes for people with big toes) IF there is enough volume to make sense, I would go for a different page.
These may satisfy you:
» The Structure of Internal Links | Silo Strategy | On-Page SEO
» How To Do Better Silos | a Better Silo?
Discussion 1: How Significant Is the URL Structure for SEO? Is It Important Enough to Make Drastic Changes?
How important is URL structure for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is it important enough to make drastic changes?
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It's all about relevancy. If you called your page article1 you should change it.
If the article is about "How to rank your Google My Business (GMB) in top 3 in 60 days or less", it's best to focus on the prime keywords:
Short and sweet, and help the user experience. Make them want to click and make G happy.
But without using capitals in the url… right.. 🙄
Keith L Evans 🎓 » Mark
You could do either. But best practice is lowercase. And notice how I saved 1 character space by joining 60days together. G still reads the words inside the combined words.
Mark » Keith L Evans
Lower case is best practice as its more user friendly and thus more search engine friendly. As a default a windows server will serve the same page whether i entered that url upper case or lowercase which cause duplicate content issues. A linux server will serve a 200 for your intended version and a 404 for the lowercase of the same url.
Its important to pick one url version and stick to it. The easiest for the user is always the best.
I'm not sure what your point on character spacing is. It would read the page url whether you put – in or not because your capitalisation of words would indicate to Google each new word.
Noah Lopata 🎓
– Keyword in the url increases relevance (as long as you are not over optimized)
– clickable, informative, clean URL's increase CTR
If you start making changes just make sure to set proper redirects and canonicals and monitor the page/ranks for movement after the changes.
Make sure to pick one defined url structure and be consistent with internal linking i.e. make sure they are all
https://www.yoursite.com/this-page/ don't leave off the www on some, the trailing slash on some, etc
Also make sure to change all internal linking so you don't have links to redirects.
When you are done submit the new URL's to be crawled via Search Console.
Last but not least I would roll it out slowly and start with pages that aren't ranking well vs your money pages
I honestly fail in seeing proves on the importance of URL for rankings. I love a clear structure because it makes results analysis a lot easier, I consider common sense in having a simple but understandable slug, but that's almost all. I also fail in understanding why changing URL is bad. Is bad if you do it wrong or lazy, without redirect and links edit. I spent years researching and testing all kind of "technical SEO", I wish I would have spent all that time writing (content and backlinks)
When a user does a search query SERPs will show titles, urls and snippets these 3 factors help users in their decision making to which page in the result they will click. Changing the url of a page or a post will trigger the algorithm to reassess that page/post, while the reassessment is ongoing your page/post might temporarily lose rankings.
Bogdan » Casas
Actually, SERP shows Domain + Breadcrumbs, Title and Snippet. so the URL makes no difference in terms of CTR. Then – the reassessment – is true, but bad things happen usually just to new or poor pages. or – at most, the drop is very short in time. In fact, many times, exactly this reassessment makes a page "fresher" (eventhough nothing changed but the URL), giving it a boost in rankings. But one think I know: there are plenty things I don't know, and there will never be enough time and budget to do proper testing – this is why I only said I fail in seeing proves.
If you have an ecommerce store where your product is categorized and slugged as:
Then you will see an SEO benefit of changing to e.g.:
Very often when working on URL-structure in such instances you apply keyword analysis which tells you a lot about what real people are calling categories, sub-categories and products – which can then be used for navigation that is easier to understand by most people. So there's a User Experience (UX) element to this, not to mention that of the two examples above, it is fairly reasonable to understand which of them gives a better breadcrumb, makes it easier for your site to rank for broader category queries and also most likely allows for a smoother internal navigation.
So the URL structure is absolutely important, but it's an individual assessment from webpage to webpage. Changing an URL means you are "deleting" your history in Google, that you need to change internal links and navigation when applicable, external links needs to be updated and you need forwarding in place (1-1), which does add tasks to the server/Content Management System (cms) that may again result in a minute slowing of pageload time etc.
So if you are going to change them, it should be considered a big task, and you should really do your due diligence in analysis, research and run it by the client, as well as map out everything that can go wrong and ensure that they don't.
I always recommend keyword research prior to building your navigation structure to use them it in the URL structure on new sites and pages.
How even that research is not primarily for the URL, it's for the anchor text in the on page navigation. The URL don't have to match and as has been said, they won't add enough weight to usually make and difference in rankings unless the site is in dire straights. And I mean DIRE.
The original question was asking about both changing existing URLand if it was important enough to do "drastic" changes and NO it is not worth the resources and new issues that open up when you changes URL. The return is WAY to minimal.
Petter » John
I've seen 80% organic traffic growth within a year from fixing URL structures (on large sites with a well known brand and good traffic), so it really depends on what state the structure is in which the poster doesn't state. Hence the «individual assessment from webpage to webpage».
It is a must for your important pages, specially product pages. An option to the rest. Still a good slug structure will help boost your site's overall ctr and impressions.