URL SEO Best Practices
It seems rather fitting that the first post of my new blog will cover SEO tactics for URLs. Its an area that I have working knowledge of but with the ever changing Search Engine Ranking Factors its something I find I constantly need to check-up on. This post is aimed at trying create a current reference guide to URL SEOs.
Avoid Subdomains where Possible
It always shocks me time and again to see this still being an issue. Although, given a little thought about cloud based implementations (think S3 bucket domain names) it is probably one that is around to stay. After all, should your brand new static site hosted on s3 really benefit from the domain that AWS allows you to use? You would have a collective SEO score of all the other buckets using that domain!
The best way to maintain a good SEO URL score is to keep all your content under the one domain name. But what about all those nice blog.mysite.com and app.mysite.com subdomains? I’m afraid they are all being looked at as separate sites with their own SEO score.
This however is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, it makes sense to maintain an app.mysite.com subdomain separate from your main marketing site. You don’t really need an SEO score for your app. Your main marketing page should be the focus of your SEO tinkering, which will in turn drive more traffic to your site, and more users signing up to use your app.
So when do I need to be concerned with subdomains? When the purpose of your SEO is to drive up the rank of your main domain.
So when do I need to be concerned with subdomains? When the purpose of your SEO is to drive up the rank of your main domain. Take for example a blog subdomain. Most sites have a blog to help drive content based traffic to a marketing site. If you have your marketing site at mysite.com and your blog at blog.mysite.com most search engines will see these as two different sites. You blog may have an amazing rank for your chosen keywords, but these will not be passed on to your marketing site.
Instead, your blog should reside as a sub URL of your main site e.g. mysite.com/blog. Now all the SEO points your blog racks up will also contribute to your main domain.
Search Engines Read Like Humans
Yes, its a network of search bots, but most search engines are programmed to be as human as possible. Whilst a URL with all the special characters under the sun provides all the meaning required for a computer, they provide almost no meaning at all to the average Joe.
Search engines look for URLs that provide the most meaning to humans, so make sure to limit special characters, dates, and numbers, and use-a-url-that-reads-well.com
Keywords in URL Still as Important as Ever
This is one that’s been around for a while, and about the only one I can always remember off the top of my head.
It makes a lot of sense that having keywords in your URL, as well as in your content, is really going to get you in the engine’s good books.
Avoid the Multi Page Post
This is one that is so hard to remember, mainly because so many sites adopt the multi-part post mentality.
We’ve all seen it before ‘How to do X (part1)” followed by ‘How to do X (part2)”. For the most part, it makes sense though doesn’t it? No one wants to read War and Peace on a page. We want to quickly read through your well thought out text, and be on to the next thing.
The problem is, from an SEO point of view, you don’t have one nicely written article, conveniently divided up into nice consumable chunks. You have two completely different pages. You have effectively taken your SEO score and halfed it. Add even more parts, and the damage is even greater. What’s worse still is that people tend to link to part 1 only. If the main point of your post resides somewhere on part 2, its likely the page will never rank well as no sites link to part 2.
Instead of writing multi part posts, write single posts with a single point to them. For example, if I was writing about implementing a static site with wercker s3 and cloudfront I may decide that the post will be too long by itself. Some of the implementation steps (like setting s3 up as a static website) could be written about in a separate post, and linked to. In this way, the posts stay short and to the point, but have a single purpose to them which improves your SEO.