Designing a new website? Odds are you’re looking for something that represents your business, informs/educates your target audience, drives leads and sales, or all of the above. For all of those goals, it’s the little things that count. In this series we want to discuss minor website design elements that can come together to improve your rankings. This is done by making your website easily navigable with content that assists your site visitors, and making the (virtual) life of robots, easier.
Simply put, a static URL remains the same along with the content provided on its page. Most of the time, we want URL’s to be straightforward, and static.
We’ll use our own website as an example. https://www.webfeatcomplete.com/web-design is a static URL that serves the same content at all times.
From a user-perspective, static URL’s are great. They’re easy to understand (assuming you give URL a relevant name) and they can help a user understand where they’re at on your website, and how to navigate elsewhere. From search, it plays a role for a searcher to identify which page is most relevant to their search. 2 examples of this:
- Service-based business: domainname.com/services/service-name/. A user could go to a particular service, and want to explore more. They could use the back button, your navigation, or likely understand that they can delete /service-name/, and be back and the primary services page. From search, if someone is searching for a particular service and sees a URL broken down like this, including the service they’re searching for, it can make them more likely to click. This will likely improve your CTR.
- Product-based business: domainname.com/products/product-name/. The same basic concept applies here. It can even be taken to another level: domainname.com/products/product-category/product-name/. In that case, you just need to be careful that your URL’s aren’t becoming too lengthy. Again, this shows relevancy and can improve CTR.
For robots, it also helps a website become more understandable, by breaking down a website similarly to the root directory of a website (thinking back to html and asp websites.) Also, it typically is relevant to the page content and what users are searching for, and that is what Google is all about. When all of that relevancy is there and you’re providing a solution to searchers questions or intent, CTR goes up. When Google expects a higher CTR (click through rate,) it gives you leverage for ranking improvement.
A dynamic URL generally comes about from an in-site search, and includes characters like: ?, =, _, etc. Generally, the content associated with a dynamic URL changes or it is pulled from a database.
If you go to our blog, it has a search function. Let’s say we do a search for “AMP.” A dynamic URL is created, because that content is always changing. This is the URL: https://www.webfeatcomplete.com/?s=AMP. Not to toot our own horn, but this is a pretty good looking dynamic URL (compared to others out there and the example below.)
We’ve also seen cases where products are listed and do not have unique pages, but are constantly updating, and organized by letter or category. This creates really funky URL’s like: domainname.com/product_Category.aspx?C=7
Users may be able to decipher what these URL’s are indicating, but it’s not nearly as simplified as a static URL, an certainly doesn’t appear to be as relevant to whatever content is on the page an what a user has searched for. Search boxes are helpful to users at times, but the associated dynamic URL’s can have a negative impact on crawling and indexing.
These URL’s can be indexed, but they often provide low-quality, thin pages (ex: search result that only has one result.) This can make robots less clear on which pages are most important and relevant to searchers on your website. We’ve mentioned before that recent studies (Britney Muller @ Moz) have shown that eliminating or noindexing thin, low-quality category pages, author pages, dynamic URL’s, etc. can end up giving rankings and traffic a boost.
TIP: If you’re building a site in wordpress, keep an eye out for those standard ‘page_id=##” URL’s. They can be fixed somewhat easily by adjusting permalink structure to match page or post name.
Bottom line: Use static URL’s, and be cautious with Dynamic URL’s
If you stick to the use of static URL’s, and make sure you keep your dynamic URL’s under control from a crawling standpoint, you’ve taken a step in the right direction. When you’re building a website, keep an eye out on your URL’s. If you have an interior page describing one of your services or products, make sure that the URL reflects what is on that page, simply. If you have a search function that is helpful to users, but content provided can vary and be thin, consider noindexing those pages (or working with an SEO to do so. This is not a beginner level practice.)
From there you should see your CTR improve, and users will likely bounce less and spend more time on your site, because they are being provided with a page relevant to their search. The improvement of these engagement metrics plays a role in your rankings.
At webFEAT Complete, our design team works in the same office as the SEO team. We build these basic practices into our websites, and take them to another level when SEO is involved as a service. Whether you’re building a new website or just need some assistance, we’d love to help. Contact us to discuss your situation.
Also published on Medium.