How to Write SEO-Friendly Links and Better URLs
It’s Not Your Content; It’s Your Links, Dummy!
There is a saying in our field; “You can be cute, or you can rank!” All too often, we come across clients that want to stand out by using different spelling or special characters in their business names. And while this may appear cute, it works against you as far as SEO is concerned. So if you want better search rankings, you better start writing SEO-friendly links!
In a previous post, I told you how to create SEO-friendly content. And maybe you already created some engaging content of your own, and are hoping for more organic traffic. So why is nobody finding your content? Most likely, the culprit is not the content, but your links! If you are not using SEO-friendly links, folks are not going to click on them.
…The objective is not to “make your links appear natural”; the objective is that your links are natural.Matt Cutts
Let’s take a look at why SEO-friendly links are so crucial for small business marketing. According to a 2022 study: 53% of all links clicked on by visitors are organic, and 15% are paid! Now you realize why building SEO-friendly links is so essential for your content and search marketing, especially if you are a small business with a limited marketing budget.
SEO-friendly links sometimes called “pretty links,” use real words instead of automatically generated links that can look like this: https://pixolabo.com/?p=123. Pretty exciting, isn’t it? Admit it; you can barely restrain yourself from clicking that! Well, a lot of folks feel the same way as you.
Lucky for you, building SEO-friendly links is pretty straightforward. Check out these simple tips and start writing SEO-friendly links that people will want to click. And you know what that means, don’t you? Yup, increased organic web traffic!
Building SEO-Friendly Links
1 – Use Hyphens – Not Underscores
I know it is hard to find that perfect domain URL or write the perfect link, without separating the words. Unfortunately, many of you are using underscores to do that. I am not keen on them. And search engines like Google and Bing dislike them as well.
Solution: Use hyphens if you need to separate words.
2 – Stop Using Special Characters
Special characters like @, $, %, or # may seem cute. But they are not doing you any good! Not only do search engines omit them from search results, they consider special characters to be spam. And that means a lower organic ranking. Not exactly what you want, is it?
Solution: Keep special characters for your social media memes.
3 – Write Shorter Links
Not only are overly long links hard to understand, or even remember. They don’t rank very high, either! According to BackLinko, short URLs tend to have a slight ranking advantage over longer URLs. However, there is no fast and straightforward rule. But SEO-friendly links are more focused on the content.
Solution: Keep your links short, informative, and easy to understand.
4 – Consider Link Structure
Link structure can vary depending on the type of website you have. Before you can start writing SEO-friendly links, consider how you are going to structure your content. Maybe you need to include dates, categories, even locations. I prefer using the blog post or page title.
Solution: SEO-friendly links are most effective if they follow your site content structure.
5 – Include Keywords
This common occurrence always puzzles the hell out of me. You are working your butt off to get better website rankings and search traffic. But you don’t want to include a keyword in the links? Search engines love keywords; it helps them understand what the page or post is all about.
Solution: Add one or two keywords to your links, but avoid keyword stuffing!
6 – DON’T USE ALL CAPS
URLs are case-sensitive. Some of you may not know that. If you create all caps permalinks, you will simply confuse search engines. Plus, using all caps is the equivalent of yelling at people. Didn’t your mom tell you that it is impolite?
Solution: Keep all your permalinks lower case. Yes, even the first letter!
7 – Stop Using Stop Words
There are about 800 words that search engines consider stop words, including “the,” “a,” “of,” “at,” and verbs. You don’t need them in your links. Search engines omit them anyway, and they make your URL look longer.
Solution: Avoid stop words and verbs in your SEO-friendly links.
8 – Write Readable Links
Readable links are all about creating clean links. For the most SEO-friendly links only include the required information, and keep it simple. Include a word or two to grab readers’ attention. Avoid numbers, weird signs, and excessive subfolders.
Solution: Keep your links short, simple, and to the point.
9 – Use Short, Branded Links
Shorter URLs are always better. They’re nicer to look at, provide a better user experience for customers and social media followers. And according to Rebrandly, branded links are even more effective than short URLs. But be careful which link shortener you use. Not all of them are easy to configure or will meet your business objectives.
Solution: Create short, branded links using link shorteners.
10 – Think Mobile
I keep reminding you that we live in a mobile age. Mobile consumers not only expect SEO-friendly links but mobile-friendly ones. Make sure that you include mobile-friendly links in your sitemap to get the mobile-friendly search ranking.
Solution: Make sure the content you link to is mobile-friendly.
11 – Be Consistent
Use the same URL format for all your site links. If you are using a backslash (/) at the end of your page URLs, be sure to do the same for your blog post links.
Solution: Choose one URL format, and stick with it.
12 – Resolve Your WWW
I come across this a lot; a site uses both www and non-www URLs. Some links include the www, and others don’t. Even worse, if you don’t resolve this, some links bring up the dreaded 404 pages.
Solution: Choose the preferable version in the Google Search Console.
Writing SEO-Friendly Links Yourself
There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? I told you building SEO-friendly links is more straightforward than most people think. For the most part, simple common sense goes a long way. If you have a hard time understanding and following your links, others will feel the same. And if visitors don’t click on links, you can kiss that improved ranking and increased search traffic goodbye.
So take a look at your links. You can simply check the URL in your browser address bar or use this great SEO Optimization Link Checker. Once you identify links that are not SEO-friendly, use the above tips to correct them.
If you need some more ideas for building SEO-friendly links or improving your overall small business SEO strategy, check out these posts on our blog:
Building SEO-friendly links is only the beginning. To keep your business website ranking high, you need to avoid common small business SEO mistakes. For many of you, this will become second nature. But if you are already uncomfortable with SEO, you may be better off engaging professional help.
We Can Help You Write SEO-Friendly Links!
Of course, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble and have our team help you write SEO-friendly links and improve your search rankings and visibility. SEO for business and e-commerce sites is one of our specialties, after all! We are experts at creating websites and search strategies that perform better on Google and Bing.
Are you interested in improving your search strategy and providing a better user experience? Our team of professional web designers and SEO strategists will be happy to help you with this. But, first, look at our portfolio and read our case studies.
Then, if you believe we are a good fit for your website design and SEO needs, let’s talk! We offer a full range of consulting and design solutions for businesses and product brands.
Feel free to reach out to us and learn more about our SEO strategy and implementation services. Our team will listen to your concerns, evaluate your needs, and come up with a list of things you need for improving your search strategy.
Did You Write SEO-Friendly Links?
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