Why URLs are Important in Search Engine Optimization
Every person who’s been in the online industry and has had some contact with SEO knows that URLs are a very important part of it. Choosing a good domain name and having the right type of subdomains and sub-URLs (the long ones which lead straight to an article or page) can affect your site’s SEO and ranking in SERPs by quite a bit.
For example, choosing a domain name with the keyword that you want to rank for will greatly increase your chances of actually ranking for it, all other things being equal. That is because Search Engines take it into consideration – in fact, it’s the first thing they notice when they visit a web site.
Also, having good long URLs can not only affect your site’s and individual pages’ ranking, but also increase (or decrease, if you’re on the wrong side) the number of clicks you’ll get from web surfers on Google and other SE’s to your site. By good URLs, I mean having keywords inside the long URL and making it user friendly, so that anyone can understand what the page it leads to will be about from just taking a look at it.
For example, a default WordPress installation will create URLs like “makemoneyhelper.com/?p=124”, which make absolutely no sense, both to Search Engines crawlers and users. That’s why every SEO expert and webmaster uses the integrated permalinks feature, which makes the URLs look like this: “makemoneyhelper.com/search-engine-optimization”.
As you can see, that is much better for everyone. The Search Engine crawlers see “search”, “engine” and “optimization” as keywords, which increases that article’s chance of ranking higher for them, and people see and can immediately imagine what the article will contain, so they can decide whether to visit the page or not (and if they searched for it, they most definitely will click through).
A lot of people prefer buying brandable domains with catchy names that are easy to remember, both because the domains with keywords in their name have already been taken and because they want something unique and not generic-looking. That is a good approach, and while the short term SEO rankings will be lower, that will not matter in long term, especially if the long URLs are descriptive, include the right keywords and are user friendly.
Another way you can increase the ranking of a web site, (especially if it is international) is by simply choosing the right TLD or Top Level Domain. This is the last part of a domain name, after the dot: .com, .net, .org, .us, etc. Choosing the right TLD in this case will mostly influence how the site will rank internationally.
For example, a site with a .us domain will rank better in the United States, while a .de domain will rank higher in Germany, no matter what language the content is actually written in. This factor isn’t as important as others, but it is noticeable. The three major TLDs, “.com”, “.net” and “.org” are also more trusted and will rank higher than “.tk”, “.cc”, “.ws” and other similar domains, which are known for being used by phishing, warez and other sketchy or downright illegal purposes.
A lot of international companies use a central .com domain with subdirectories for all their localized sites. That is a good approach, which certainly makes managing the sites simpler, but for improved SEO and user trust, it has been proven that the best approach is to register separate country specific TLD’s for all the countries where you want to have a presence and rank higher.
It’s not that expensive to do, and it will be most beneficial in the long term. You can, for example, host localized sites on servers in those countries, which will make the sites load faster and further improve SEO on account of local IP addresses (plus hosting is much cheaper in Europe and Japan, for example).
People will also trust your site more and that will increase the chance of an order if you are selling something, because seeing a .de domain will make them think that you ship from Germany (even though all your products come from China using drop shipping, for example).
That’s about it on URLs for SEO. Knowing the above things can definitely help you and your site get more traffic and rank higher for whatever you want. Just go and apply this newly acquired knowledge.