When is the last time you really thought about URLs? Be honest…

My guess is that it’s been a while. Oh sure, you think about domain names and keywords, but what about URLs? Do you know everything you need to know?

In this short article I’m going to point you to some excellent resources. I want you to clearly understand how URLs are impacting your internet marketing efforts.

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Let’s get started. Here are 21 red hot resources…

SEO and URL Structure (ClickZ) — “On the flip side, other SEO experts believe keywords in the URL don’t make or break search engine positions. Yet this group recognizes how important keywords are from a usability perspective: both search engines’ and site visitors’. This group doesn’t give much emphasis to keyword-rich URLs for determining relevancy.”

Removing the Ws from URLs (WebWord) — “In this article, however, I will go one step further and recommend that sites should be set up to work with or without the Ws, but also have the Ws automatically removed from the URL using a server-side technique I will henceforth refer to as “removing the Ws”. I will detail why I feel this is a more appropriate solution and explain how this can be done.”

Slash Forward (Some URLs are Better Than Others) (A List Apart) — “Chances are, you’ve come across an example of poor link structure in your many travels online. The problem is that most of the time, developers don’t even realize that they’re needlessly taxing their server (even if it’s just a smidge).”

How to Succeed With URLs (A List Apart) — “If you’re building or maintaining a dynamic website, you may have considered the problem of how to get rid of unfriendly URLs.”

SEO Advice: URL Canonicalization  (Matt Cutts) — “One thing that helps is to pick the url that you want and use that url consistently across your entire site. For example, don’t make half of your links go to http://example.com/ and the other half go to http://www.example.com/ . Instead, pick the url you prefer and always use that format for your internal links.”

Why storing URLs with truncated trailing slashes is an utterly idiocy — “Dear Web developers, if you really think that home page locations respectively directory URLs look way cooler without the trailing slash, then by all means manipulate the anchor text, but do not manipulate HREF values, and do not store truncated URLs in your databases (not that “http://example.com” as anchor text makes any sense when the URL in HREF points to “http://example.com/”).”

Dynamic URL Optimization  (Dev Web Pro) — “As a general rule, avoid including session id information in the url and if you do need to include parameters, limit it to 2 and limit the number of characters per parameter to 10 or less.”

How can I create a Google-friendly URL structure?  (Google) — “Overly complex URLs, especially those containing multiple parameters, can cause a problems for crawlers by creating unnecessarily high numbers of URLs that point to identical or similar content on your site. As a result, Googlebot may consume much more bandwidth than necessary, or may be unable to completely index all the content on your site.”

Dashes vs. Underscores  (Matt Cutts) — “I often get asked whether I’d recommend dashes or underscores for words in urls. For urls in Google, I would recommend using dashes.”

11 Best Practices for URLs (SEO Moz) — “URLs seem like one of the most simplistic parts of SEO, but I find myself returning to this issue with nearly every client. Hopefully these guidelines can help a few folks make use of best practices before it becomes an issue down the road.”

Optimal URL Structure (Daily Blog Tips) — “An optimal URL structure will not use numbers or strange characters on the permalinks, it will be short and describe the content of the page.”

A Better URL Structure for SEO? — “My proposed URL structure is this: http://www.allthingssem.com/######/one-or-more-keywords/ where ###### is a unique, numeric identifier with 3 or more digits.”

Absolute vs. Relative Links – Which is Better? (Search-This) — “Well you’ll get different responses depending on who you ask. Many people will tell you that relative paths are better but I’m not one of them! I always recommend absolute paths and here’s why…”

Absolute Versus Relative Linking — “There’s not actually any search engine rankings boost per se when you use absolute versus relative links. However, when you use absolutely links you make sure the search engines know which “version” [www vs. no www] of your site to index.”

Choose Your Site Name And URL – SEO – SEM Beginner’s Guide — “Robin Good explains again and more in depth how to choose your site’s name and domain. Do they need to be similar? Do they need to have specific keywords within them? Robin answers to all these…”

Understanding WordPress Permalinks — “Setting your desired Permalink structure is a very first thing you should do after installing your WordPress blog because search engines index your blog based on post URLs and if you change from one to another then you will loose your rankings. And also other web sites link to your blog using them and changing can also stop those traffic flows.

Search Engine Friendly URLs – URL Rewriting — “Complex, hard-to-read URLs are often dubbed dirty URLs because they tend to be littered with punctuation and identifiers that are at best irrelevant to the ordinary user.”

mod_rewrite: A Beginner’s Guide to URL Rewriting — “It’s not generally known, but many of the search engines will not index your site in depth if it contains links to dynamic pages like the one mentioned above. They simply take the “name” part of the URL (that’s everything before the question mark, which contains the parameters that are needed for most of the scripts to run correctly), and then try to fetch the contents of the page.”

URL as UI (useit.com) — “We found that searchers are particularly interested in the URL when they are assessing the credibility of a destination. If the URL looks like garbage, people are less likely to click on that search hit. On the other hand, if the URL looks like the page will address the user’s question, they are more likely to click.”

An eye-tracking study of information usage in Web search: Variations in target position and contextual snippet length  (Note: PDF!) — “Edward Cutrell and Zhiwei Guan from Microsoft Research have conducted an eyetracking study of search engine use that found that people spend 24% of their gaze time looking at the URLs in the search results.”
Underscores are now word separators, proclaims Google — “One key development that Matt shared with the audience was that underscores in URLs are now (or at least very soon to be) treated as word separators by Google. That’s great news, because it historically hasn’t been that way.”

I hope that you enjoyed this list of resources. I’m certain that you’ll be able to improve your search engine rankings and increase usability by using these URL tips, tricks, and techniques.

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