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10 Top Ways To Optimize Your URL For Search Engines (Infographic)

Posted on October 29, 2014

Your URL contains important information to tell search engines and people about the content on your website - If you’re optimizing your URL. SEO agencies spend a lot of time researching and perfecting the best way to create a URL so that your site ranks higher on search engines and people can find your website.

I am sharing 10 of my SEO best practices to make your website’s URL friendlier for readers and search engines.

10 Top Ways To Optimize Your URL For Search Engines (Infographic) image how to optimize url for seo21.jpg21

10 URL Optimization SEO Best Practices

1. Add Target Keywords in URLs

Include your exact target keywords in your URL. This may be difficult to do on your home page so add target keywords or phrases to URLs on service pages or blog articles.

example: How to use the exact target keywords “chicago restaurant west loop”:

Good URL:
Bad URL:

2. Use 301 Redirect on Broken URLs

When you delete or change a URL for any reason you are removing a page that search engines have indexed and other sites may have linked to. Search engines may remove a high ranking web page from the search results because they can’t find your content on your old URL. Notify search engines that you have changed or moved your URL by adding a 301 redirect from your old URL to your new URL.

To learn more about 301 Redirects, read:
Google’s advice on 301 redirects
How to 301 redirect

3. Upload a Favicon

favicon (favorite icon) is the little image next to your URL in a browser address bar. Favicons have several benefits:

  • Favicons are user-friendly
  • Search engines sometimes include favicons in their search results
  • Favicons provide brand recognition and trust

Favicons don’t have a direct SEO impact on your site, but there is a correlation: have one.

4. Use Canonical URLs

You can avoid a duplicate content penalty by telling search engines your preferred domain and preferred web pages. Sometimes dynamic pages accidentally create duplicate content. Canonical links are URLs that set a preferred domain for your content so you aren’t penalized for something you didn’t intend to do. Dynamic websites have “live” pages that change based on user activity, and can have multiple paths that lead to the same content, which search engines may classify as duplicate content.

read more:

How to Set Your Preferred Domain and Double the Power of Your Backlinks

You can also canonicalize your IP address by redirecting your IP address to your preferred domain so search engines don’t think your IP address and your website are two different websites with the same content.

5. List Mobile URLs on your Sitemap

Your website’s sitemap can tell search engines about your content, and which pages are mobile-friendly. Most users use mobile devices when performing search: mobile friendly pages typically rank higher in  mobile search results.

Even is your website uses responsive design (meaning its designed to be used on mobile devices), include responsive mobile URLs in your sitemap.

Here is Google’s recommendation on how to include mobile URLs in sitemaps.

6. Block Bad URLs with Robots.txt

Google may penalize your site if you have multiple pages on your site with the exact same content. Block search engines from indexing duplicate URLs that link to the same content on your website so you are not penalized by search engines. Use Robots.txt for problematic URLs to tell search engines to ignore dynamic URLs that point to your canonical URL.

For example, having a search feature on your website can generate dynamic and duplicate URLs to the same content. Robots.txt can instruct search engine robots to block or ignore certain files on your site when crawling your site for content.

7. No Capital Letters in URLS

Do not use capital letters in an URL. Capital letters make your URL hard to remember, and can make it hard for search engines and people to find you. is a different URL than

8. Put Top Content in Top Folders

Organize and map your website’s content so your URL structure is logical and signals the importance of a page on your site. Less forward slashes indicate that a page has more authority and contains important information about your website.

example: how to show authority with your URL structure:

More Authority:
Less Authority:

9. Use Dashes and Hyphens Instead of Underscores

To separate words in your URL use dashes or hyphens instead of underscores.  Google has stated that Google’s algorithm was written to read hyphens and not underscores. Following Google’s rules helps you get ranked higher in their search results.

example: how to separate words in your URL:

Good URL:
Bad URL:

10. Every URL Must be Readable

Every word in your URL must be easily read by people and search engines. People read URLs before clicking on them to try and understand the content of a website page. Search engines read the words in URLs just like they read the content on your page. Search Engines have to be able to understand your content so they can connect people who are in your target market.

example: if you’re looking for a restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop, which URL would you click on?

Good URL:
Bad URL: