I wrote an article about how to structure your blog but one important element that I did not include in that post was paying attention to the blog URL itself and how you should present it. I felt that this topic needed an article in its own right.
This article is for you if you are regularly publishing blog articles but you are:
- Unsure as to whether your blog URL is optimised to its best OR
- You have researched the best way to structure the URL and are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of technical advice you have found and need a clear and concise answer you can understand and implement
The blog URL is something that often escapes people’s attention when they are publishing their blog posts. In this article, I explain why you should pay attention to the structure of your blog URL and the best practices to adopt.
Before we get started on best practices, I am assuming if you’re reading this you will already know what a URL is, but just to be sure, here is a quick reminder of what a URL looks like. Remember, a URL is the address of a specific web page.
Where Does the Blog URL Come From?
Before we get started, let’s look at how a URL is generated. When you create a blog post (or any web page for that matter), WordPress will autogenerate a ‘slug’. This slug is not of the garden variety thankfully but instead, it is the title of the blog pulled across automatically to create the blog URL.
The ‘slug’ uniquely defines the post or page of a website. It is just like the address of a house on a street, each web page is as unique as each web page in existence.
When I created this article, my slug, by default, looked like this:
You might be thinking that looks ok but already it’s starting to look a bit long-winded. If your blog title is much longer than this, then you can see how it would look cumbersome. So let’s get stuck into finding out more about the best structure.
What is the Best Way to Structure a Blog URL?
1. Start by editing the URL before hitting the publish button
Before you do anything, you need to pay attention to editing the URL before you hit the publish button. In your blog preparation, along with creating the content, pulling together keywords, you need to decide what your blog URL is going to be.
It is better to edit the URL before you hit publish. If you do want to change the URL after you have published the blog, you can do so, but remember that you will need to set up a redirection of the original post to the amended post URL.
2. Keep the blog URL short and simple
Write your blog URL for human and search engine readability, short and simple is better. As much as people want to know exactly what the article is about, so do search engines. According to research by Backlinko, they found short URLs ranked far better than long ones. A short URL gives a better understanding of your topic to the search engines.
A short and simple URL will also be displayed in full in the search engine results and can give better click-through results because the topic is super clear and displayed in full.
In the above example, see how the very long URL of the AWeber article does not display in full on a google search result. Compare that to the two examples above. Instantly you will know what articles 1 and 2 are about.
3. Use one keyword or phrase in your URL
As part of your blog process, use one keyword or phrase that you want the article to rank for in your article and in your URL. Make sure your keyword (or long-tailed keyword) aligns with the content and is relevant to your article.
For example, I have used the long-tailed keyword ‘structure blog URL’; it is easy to read and tells you and the search engines exactly what the article is about.
This moves nicely onto the next point which is…
Get really specific on your URL. If you are too generic, your article will get lost in the black hole of the web and be up against a lot more competition. The more specific you can be the better. This also goes for the topic of your articles too, get really specific on what you write about and this will naturally flow to get specific with your URL.
For example: let’s say you were writing an article about cats.
There is a lot which can be written about cats.
In your cat article, you specifically write about looking after your cat’s health.
If your article is even more specific, you could be writing about your cat’s eye health.
The more specific you can be, the better. Think about the question that someone would type into a search engine based on the above example.
‘How can I look after my cat’s eye health?’ If your article has the first URL yourdomain.co.uk/cats, can you see how your cat eye health article is extremely unlikely to make an appearance?
This specificity of your blog URL goes hand in hand with writing blog articles which go into detail about a topic. The more specific you can be, the more likely your article will answer a specific question someone is looking for the answer to as they search online.
5. Remove all unnecessary ‘stop words’
From the examples above, you may have started to realise that many of the words used in a title are not making an appearance in the URL. An effective URL will have all of the ‘stop words’ removed.
‘Stop words’ are the small words that are ignored by search engines. Including stop words have no relevance whatsoever to the searchability or meaning for search engines and what your blog post is about.
For a human approach, stop words are also unnecessary and time-consuming to read to understand what an article is about. Stop word examples are ‘as’, ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘as’, ‘then’, ‘I’.
For a full list of stop words, SEO PowerSuite has compiled a list of words ignored by search engines.
6. Use hyphens to separate words
Individual words within a blog URL should be separated by hyphens, like this:
And not underscores:
Nor should words not be separated:
Search engines can only read the words separated by hyphens and humans can read them better too. Google recommends that URLs are constructed in a simple way with the use of hyphens.
This article has covered the best way to structure your blog post URLs so they are not only search engine friendly but human-friendly too.
Sharing optimised URLs in this way also makes for a better experience when sharing on social media. Short and succinct links take up less space than a long and rambling URL. The benefit of a more meaningful URL makes it more memorable to others with more chance of future recall.
“It should come as no surprise that the easier a URL is to read for humans, the better it is for search engines. Accessibility has always been a part of SEO, but never more so than today, when engines can leverage advanced user and usage data signals to determine what people are engaging with vs. not.”
Taking the time to edit your blog URLs is a worthwhile exercise. However, a word of warning to add; if you are changing any previously published URLs do take great care to ensure you redirect old URLs to their replacements. If you are any doubt and need guidance, please seek the help of a professional.
If you would like a quick and easy blog checklist to refer to when you publish your next blog post, then you can download my free checklist below.