Let’s start with the basics. A URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is the address that leads to a web page when typed into a web browser. It tells the user where they are on a site, and is often the first impression that users get of your site when they see it posted on social media platforms. Not only that, though-a structured and optimized URL is one of the many factors that go into determining PageRank for Google.
A structured URL should look something like this:
Everyone has been on websites where the URL is dynamically generated, and might look more like a complex math problem than an indication of where you are on the site.
To answer your question: URL structure is important for two reasons, which also happen to be the main pillars of SEO: PageRank and user experience.
There’s no way around it. Google’s PageRank score places weight on URL structure. This happens for two reasons–one, it helps Google’s bots to crawl your website easier. When the pages of your site are placed neatly inside these “folders” that are created with an organized URL structure, Google understands your website more and is able to add more context. Secondly, organizing and customizing your URLs allows you to add keywords into them, which is another ranking factor.
Like any good piece of content, you don’t want to stuff keywords in where they don’t belong, however, URLs with appropriately placed keywords are more likely to rank for those keywords.
Any SEO professional worth their salt will tell you that as Google improves its algorithm on a daily basis, user experience is the number one driving factor behind a ranking page. All of the technical SEO and keyword research in the world won’t help your website rank if the content is useless to a user. The same goes for your URL structure. Dynamically generated URLs are hard to look at, and can be confusing for a user trying to figure out where they are on the site.
Additionally, many social media platforms display URLs that are shared in full. This means that many users who see your website for the first time are seeing the URL that leads to a page. Are you more likely to click on a URL that clearly lays out what the page is about, or a jumbled mess that hurts to look at?
The same logic applies to search engine results pages. While there are other indicators on Google to tell a user what a page is about, you’re only hurting yourself if the URL shown on the page doesn’t have a clear, easy to understand path.
It’s a time consuming process to restructure your site, but it’ll be well worth it to see the rankings shoot up. Contact our SEO team today to learn more about how we can optimize your site!