What is a URL and why do they matter for SEO

In simple words, URLs are basically the addresses of web pages, but their role extends far beyond simple navigation. For businesses and individuals keen on digital visibility, understanding the significance of URLs is crucial, especially when we talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

This article aims to provide a clear picture of URLs, shedding light on their role in SEO and how they can be optimized for better search engine ranking. Whether you’re managing an e-commerce giant like Amazon or a boutique store on Shopify, a well-crafted URL structure can be the difference between online obscurity and prominence.

Let’s dive into the world of URLs and discover why they’re pivotal for effective SEO strategies.

Understanding URL Structure

Understanding URL Structure

A URL, at its most basic, is the web address of a particular page, however, it is not as simple as seems.

A standard URL comprises a protocol (like HTTP or HTTPS), a domain name, and often a path that includes a specific page or resource. The way this structure is organized plays a vital role in both user experience and SEO effectiveness.

For SEO, a URL isn’t just a means to reach a webpage; it’s an opportunity to convey relevance and context to search engines. A well-structured URL contains clear, descriptive, and keyword-rich paths that help search engines understand the content of the page, contributing to better search rankings. This is where the concepts of the ‘best URL structure for SEO’ come into play.

Always remember that a clean and clear URL structure is beneficial for both users and search engines. Users are more likely to trust and remember URLs that are concise and descriptive.

Meanwhile, search engines prefer URLs that make it easy to determine the page topic and hierarchy of the website. This clarity can significantly impact your site’s visibility and user engagement.

Moreover, a URL is much more than just a web address. It’s quite a critical component in conveying the content and context of a web page, both to users and search engines. This understanding lays the foundation for adopting SEO best practices in URL structuring, which we will explore next.

SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs

SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs

Optimizing URLs for search engines is a critical aspect of SEO. Here are five SEO best practices for structuring URLs:

  1. Keep URLs Short and Simple: URL length also plays a crucial role in SEO. A concise URL is easier for search engines to crawl and easier for users to understand and remember. Avoid lengthy URLs filled with unnecessary parameters or numbers. Ideally, a URL should be straightforward enough to be easily recalled and typed by users.
  2. Use Keywords Strategically: Including relevant keywords in your URL can improve your page’s search visibility. However, keyword stuffing in URLs can be counterproductive, leading to a spammy appearance and potentially harming your site’s SEO. Choose one or two significant keywords that accurately describe the page’s content.
  3. Ensure Readable URL Structures: URLs should be readable and friendly to both users and search engines. This means using words instead of long ID numbers and underscores. For instance, a URL like www.example.com/products/organic-green-tea is far more SEO-friendly than www.example.com/prod?id=12345.
  4. Use Hyphens to Separate Words: In URLs, words should be separated by hyphens rather than underscores or spaces. This is because search engines like Google treat hyphens as space, thus recognizing individual words, whereas underscores are not recognized as spaces.
  5. Implement a Logical Hierarchy: Structuring your URLs to reflect the hierarchy of your website helps search engines understand the relationship between different pages. This is particularly important for large e-commerce sites like Amazon, where URLs need to represent categories and subcategories effectively.

URL Structure in E-commerce

How to Structure E-commerce Sites

E-commerce platforms have unique challenges when it comes to URL structuring. An optimized URL structure can greatly enhance the findability of products and categories, directly impacting sales and user experience.

  • Amazon Product URL Structure: Amazon’s URL structure is a model of efficiency and SEO optimization. Product URLs typically include the product name and relevant keywords, making them descriptive and search-friendly. This not only aids in search engine indexing but also improves user clarity.
  • Shopify URL Structure: Shopify, a popular e-commerce platform, allows for considerable customization in URL structuring. Best practices include using clear, descriptive paths and including relevant product or category names. This helps in higher search engine rankings and better user navigation.

Practical Guide to URL Management in CMS

Practical Guide to URL Management in CMS

Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress have made it easier for website owners to manage their URL structures. A well-optimized URL can enhance a site’s SEO performance, and understanding how to effectively manage these URLs is crucial.

How to Change URL Structure in WordPress?

Changing the URL structure in WordPress is a straightforward process, but it requires careful consideration due to its potential impact on SEO and site navigation. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to change the URL structure in WordPress:

1. Backup Your Website: Before making any changes, it’s crucial to back up your entire website. This ensures that you can restore your site to its original state in case anything goes wrong.

2. Access Permalink Settings: Log in to your WordPress dashboard. Go to the ‘Settings’ menu and click on ‘Permalinks’. This is where you can change the URL structure of your site.

3. Choose a URL Structure: WordPress offers several predefined options for URL structures, such as Day and Name, Month and Name, Numeric, Post Name, and Custom Structure.

  • Post Name: This is often recommended for SEO as it creates clean, concise URLs with the post or page title.
  • Custom Structure: If you want more control, you can choose a custom structure. Here, you can use structure tags to define a pattern (e.g., /%category%/%postname%/).

4. Set Up Redirects for Old URLs: Changing your URL structure can lead to 404 errors as the old URLs will no longer be valid. To prevent this, set up 301 redirects, which tell search engines and users that a page has permanently moved to a new location. You can use plugins like ‘Redirection’ to manage these redirects.

5. Update Your URLs: After setting your new permalink structure, go through your website to update any internal links that might still be using the old URLs. This includes links in your content, menus, and any other places on your site.

6. Notify Google of the Change: Once your new URL structure is in place and redirects are set up, it’s a good idea to notify Google of these changes. You can do this by resubmitting your sitemap in Google Search Console. This helps Google re-crawl and index your site based on the new URL structure.

7. Monitor Your Site: After implementing the changes, monitor your website for any crawl errors or broken links. Keep an eye on your website’s performance in search engine rankings and user engagement.

Remember, while changing the URL structure can improve SEO and user experience, it should be done thoughtfully to minimize any negative impact on your site’s current search engine rankings and visitor experience.

Best Practices Across Different CMS Platforms

While WordPress is a prime example, other CMS platforms like Shopify also provide URL customization features. The key principles remain the same: keep URLs short, use relevant keywords, and ensure they are user-friendly.
In e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, special attention should be given to product and category URLs. Implementing a logical, hierarchical structure helps in better categorization and easier navigation, both crucial for an effective e-commerce SEO strategy.


What is a URL?

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the address of a specific webpage or file on the Internet. It directs users to where they can find a website or a specific page within a website.

Why is URL structure important for SEO?

The structure of a URL is crucial for SEO because it helps search engines understand the relevance and context of a webpage. A well-structured URL that includes relevant keywords can improve a page’s search engine ranking.

What makes a URL SEO-friendly?

An SEO-friendly URL is typically short, descriptive, and includes relevant keywords. It should be easy to read for both users and search engines and accurately describe the page’s content.

How can a poorly structured URL affect a website's SEO?

A poorly structured URL can negatively impact a website’s SEO by making it difficult for search engines to index the site and understand the content, leading to lower search rankings.

What is the best way to include keywords in a URL?

The best way to include keywords in a URL is to incorporate them naturally and relevantly. Avoid keyword stuffing and ensure the keywords make sense within the context of the URL.

Can changing the URL structure of an existing website affect SEO?

Yes, changing the URL structure of an existing website can impact SEO. It’s essential to set up proper redirects to avoid broken links and to ensure search engines and users are directed to the correct pages.

How does URL structure affect user experience?

A clear and descriptive URL structure enhances user experience by making it easier for users to understand where a link will take them and what content they should expect on a page.

What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS in URLs?

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and HTTPS (HTTP Secure) are protocols used in URLs. HTTPS includes an encryption layer (SSL) for security, which is preferred by search engines and is essential for websites handling sensitive data.

Is it necessary to have a custom URL structure for every page on a website?

While it’s not necessary, it’s recommended to have a custom URL structure for each page to accurately describe the page’s content and improve SEO.

How important is it to use hyphens instead of underscores in URLs?

It’s important to use hyphens instead of underscores because search engines treat hyphens as spaces, helping them to better understand and index the words in the URL.


The journey through the world of URLs and their impact on SEO underscores a fundamental truth: in the digital age, the smallest elements often have the most significant effects. A well-structured URL is more than just an internet address; it’s a potent tool in the arsenal of SEO strategies.

For businesses and content creators, understanding and implementing these URL best practices can lead to substantial rewards. A URL that is concise, keyword-rich, and reflective of the content hierarchy not only enhances user experience but also bolsters your site’s visibility on search engines. It’s particularly crucial for e-commerce platforms, where a clear, navigable URL structure directly influences customer engagement and sales.

Moreover, the ability to manage and optimize URLs in content management systems, especially in platforms like WordPress and Shopify, empowers website owners to take control of their online presence. Remember, changing a URL structure isn’t a one-time task but a part of ongoing website optimization. It requires careful planning, implementation, and, importantly, consistent updates to align with evolving SEO best practices.

In conclusion, whether you’re running an e-commerce giant, a small blog, or anything in between, paying attention to your URL structure is not just beneficial; it’s essential. By embracing these practices, you’re not only improving your site’s SEO performance but also enhancing the overall online experience for your users. URLs might be small components of the digital world, but they hold immense power in the landscape of SEO.

Leave a Comment