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URL Guidelines

Last updated: Jun 03, 2022

Disclaimer: Our team is constantly compiling and adding new terms that are known throughout the SEO community and Google terminology. You may be sent through SEO Terms in cmlabs.co from third parties or links. Such external links are not investigated, or checked for accuracy and reliability by us. We do not assume responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of any information offered by third-party websites.

url guidelines illustration
Figure 1: The image shows the address bar in the search engine window indicated by a black cursor. As an illustration the URL guide should have used the HTTPS protocol. The URL used should also be short and clear so that it is easier for users and search engines to understand the content presented on the page.

The Complete Guide to URL Structure

The URL structure of a site should be simple. Apart from making the page more user-friendly, it also makes it search engine friendly.

Always consider managing your content so that the URLs are structured logically and understandable to humans (use legible wording rather than long ID numbers).

For example, if you are searching for information about flights, a URL like this

http://cmlabs.co/seo-term/what-is-bandwith

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will help the user to decide whether they will click on the link or not. On the other hand, the following URL will be less attractive to users.

http://www.example.com/index.php?id_sezione=360& sid=3a5ebc944f41daa6f849f730f1

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Also, consider using punctuation in your URLs.

http://www.example.com/green-dress.html

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The above URL is more useful to Google than

http://www.example.com/greendress.html.

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We recommend using (-) instead of an underscore (_) in your URLs.

Overly complex URLs, such as those with a lot of parameters, can cause problems for crawlers by creating a large number of unimportant URLs that point to similar content on your site. As a result, Google bots will consume more bandwidth than they should, or they may not be able to fully index all the content on your site.

Common Causes of URLs Problems

A number of unimportant URLs can be caused by a number of problems, including:

Additional filtering on a series of items

Many sites provide different views of the same set of items or search results, often allowing users to filter the set using specified criteria (for example: show me hotels on the beach).

When the filters can be combined through additions (for example: a hotel on the beach and equipped with a gym), the number of URLs (data views) on the site will be larger.

Generating a large number of slightly different hotel listings is too much, as Googlebot only needs to see a small number of listings used to reach each hotel's page. For example:

Hotel properties by “rate of value”:

http://www.example.com/hotel-search-results.jsp?Ne=292&N=461

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Hotel properties with a “rate of value” on the beach:

http://www.example.com/hotel-search-results.jsp?Ne=292& N=461+4294967240

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“Rated” hotel properties on the beach with a gym:

http://www.example.com/hotel-search-results.jsp?Ne=292&
N=461+4294967240+4294967270

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Dynamic document creation

Dynamically generated documents may cause minor changes due to a calculator, timestamp, or installed ads.

Problematic URL parameter

Session IDs, for example, can create a large number of duplicates as well as a larger number of URLs.

Sorting parameters

Some major shopping sites provide multiple ways to sort the same item, resulting in a very large number of URLs. For example,

http://www.example.com/results?search_type=search_videos&
search_query=tpb&search_sort=relevance&search_category=25

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Irrelevant parameters

The URL contains irrelevant parameters, such as referrer parameters. For example:

http://www.example.com/search/noheaders? click=6EE2BF1AF6A3D705D5561B7C3564D9C2&
clickPage=OPD+Product+Page&cat=79

http://www.example.com/discuss/showthread.php?referrerid=249406&threadid=535913

http://www.example.com/products/products.asp?Nproducts.asp
=200063&Ne=500955&ref=foo%2Cbar&Cn=Accessories.

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Calendar issue

Dynamically generated calendars can generate links to future and past dates with no restrictions on the beginning of the last date. For example:

http://www.example.com/calendar.php?d=13&m=8&y=2011

http://www.example.com/calendar/cgi?2008&month=jan

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Broken relative link

Broken relative links can often result in the infinity of space. This problem often arises as a result of repeated flow elements. For example:

http://www.example.com/index.shtml/discuss/category/

school/061121/html/interview/category/health/070223/

html/category/business/070302/html/category/community/070413/html/FAQ.html

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broken relative link
Figure 2: Illustration of a broken relative link showing a 404 error message on a mobile device with a cracked screen. In the HTTP status code, the number 404 describes that the content on the destination page is not available. This of course can reduce the quality of the user experience because users cannot access the pages they want to go to and search engines cannot crawl and index the pages they should.

Solving URL Structure Problems

To avoid potential problems with the URL structure, we recommend the following step:

  • Consider using a robots.txt file to block Googlebot's access to problematic URLs. In particular, you should consider blocking dynamic URLs, such as URLs that contain search results, or URLs that can create unlimited space, such as calendars. Using regular expressions in a robots.txt file will allow you to easily block a large number of URLs.
  • If it is possible, avoid using session IDs in URLs. Consider using cookies instead. Check the Webmaster Guidelines for more information.
  • If it is also possible, shorten URLs by trimming unneeded parameters.
  • If your site has unlimited calendars, add a nofollow attribute on the links to dynamically generated future calendar pages.
  • Check your site for any broken relative links.

That is a complete guideline to keep URLs simple, the cause of the problem, and the recommended action that can help you make the URL easy to understand.

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USAGE OF A SIMPLE URL STRUCTURE ON THE WEBSITE

AGENCY WEBSITE

Agency websites should contain a simple URL structure to make it easier for clients.

E-COMMERCE WEBSITE

E-Commerce websites that have a simple URL structure are more attractive to customers.

BRAND WEBSITE

The brand website should have a simple URL that Google can easily identify.

WEBSITE BLOG

To upscale the rank of a blog website, a simple URL is a way for Google to easily index the page.

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