How Should You Optimise URLs for Ecommerce SEO
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URL, short for Uniform Resource Locator, can have a significant impact on your ecommerce SEO results. Let’s say there are numerous colour and size variations for the various products in your store. You would typically have a separate product page for each variation. That’s perfectly alright. But you’ll need to think meticulously about how this structure will affect your URLs.
You’ll need to optimise your web store URLs for SEO, especially the URLs of your product pages and blogs. This is to help the search engine spiders get a correct understanding of your online store. Only when you do this the right way, your web pages will link correctly to search queries. And, in turn, this will result in high-quality traffic, as well as higher conversion. Hence, the way you create your URLs will have a variety of effects on your ecommerce SEO.
A Brief History of the URL
In simple terms, a URL is essentially a web address. It is the location of a particular website, file, or page on the internet. Tim Berners-Lee, a British physicist and the inventor of the internet, coined the term Uniform Resource Locator (URL) in 1994. He had big dreams about the World Wide Web.
During the first decade of its existence, URLs were quite long. With people creating blog posts, sharing articles, and creating live videos frequently, it was becoming increasingly difficult to use these long URLs in emails. So, in 2002, Kevin Gilbertson, an American web developer, created TinyURL, the first URL shortener.
Today, a website URL is one of the most valuable online sharing tools. It’s important that URLs match web page titles. The reason is human-readable URLs are truly valuable in social media posts, emails, and other places you desire to share web pages with others.
Parts of the URL
Each URL is made up of three key parts. A quick look at these three parts will help you understand what URLs stand for.
1. The Protocol
Consider the URL below:
You hardly look at the very first part of this address. You don’t give a second thought to the http:// or https:// right at the beginning of every URL. That’s probably because you’re so used to seeing it. This is the URL’s protocol, and it is really important.
It’s the protocol that enables a URL to function in the first place. Previously, most online stores used the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) version. But there’s been widespread adoption of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) version in 2021.
The protocol encrypts the data that is sent back and forth between the server and the browser.
For online shoppers, this protocol is a much more secure option. And Google uses this as a ranking factor, too.
2. The Domain Name
Let’s revisit the URL:
The second part is the most identifiable component of a web address. It’s known as the domain name. Here, it’s digitalchakra.co.uk (our website).
A domain name is typically an identifier for a particular site. This element will bring you to the home page of the website when nothing else is added further.
A domain name comprises two smaller parts. Other than the name of the website – digitalchakra – you also have the Top-Level Domain (TLD) – .co.uk. Other commonly used TLDs include .com, .org, .net, .gov, .info, etc.
When you’re launching a new online store, it’s worthwhile to spend some time considering your domain name. It should be attention-grabbing as well as unique. And it should be easy to recall. There are dozens of TLD options, but .com is the best choice.
3. The Path
If you wanted to visit the front page of our website, it would suffice if you used the protocol and the domain name: https://digitalchakra.co.uk/.
But if you wanted to visit an individual page (for instance, our exhaustive Ecommerce SEO Guide blog post), then you’d also need the page URL. Here’s what it looks like:
The part that comes after the TLD is called the path. It’s the path that directs the browser to a particular page on the website.
Best Practices to SEO Your Site URLs
As I already mentioned, the URLs on the pages of your web store make a huge impact on your ecommerce SEO results. Outlined below are some best practices for setting up SEO URLs for your online store.
1. Use a Single Domain or Sub-domain
You need to restrict all your similar content to one domain. The proven way to get the optimum domain authority results is to make sure all the links within your store and those coming to your store from backlinks point to one version of your domain.
Sure, it’s tempting to use a slight variation of the URL structure you are using. But you’ll miss out on the opportunity to optimise your links.
It’s definitely easy to keep all your options on a single page. But it makes business sense to have a separate page for each product variation. The other thing is having several pages with identical content, but only a slight product variation can also be tricky. It will only result in too many links.
The best way to resolve this issue is to implement canonical URLs. The reason is because canonical URLs inform search engines about the specific link you intend to target for each variation. Make certain you are using the unique keywords that are applicable to the root URL.
You can also use a sub-domain for new content.
Bing and Google treat sub-domains as entirely new URLs. Imagine a guesthouse on a property. It’s not really the main home. But it’s different with sub-folders. Search engines view sub-folders as rooms inside the main house and, therefore, as part of the main site.
2. Keep Your URLs Short
Your readers will certainly find short URLs easy to handle. Aim for a character count that is under 60. If your URLs are much longer, rewrite them to improve your SERP rankings. They’ll be more human-readable, too.
The length of your URLs doesn’t matter to search engines. But shoppers will find short URLs helpful in locating your products. A short URL is not only easy to copy and paste but also to share. When short URLs are shared, other shoppers seeing them are more likely to click on these links, as they are more readable.
3. Use Your Prime Keywords in Your URLs
When you use your prime keywords in your URLs, you make it easier for shoppers to find your store. Google and Bing show URLs rather prominently. This means shoppers get to look at the title and meta description, as well as the URL in the search results. This makes your web store URL a top element that shoppers consider before they decide where to click. So, it’s important to make your URLs valuable to shoppers. Only then you’ll get more clicks when your store comes up in search.
Note: Avoid keyword stuffing in your URLs. Shoppers and search engines are smart. They’ll figure out you are only stuffing repetitive keywords into your URLs.
4. Make Your URLs More Readable by Humans
Let’s say you search for “top SEO books on amazon.com” on Google. The results show the following two URLs:
Which URL would you click first?
Both the URLs go to the same page. But the second URL is more people-friendly than the first one. Human-readable URLs are immensely valuable when shoppers wish to share the links of your product pages via emails and social media channels.
5. Minimise Your Page Depth
Page Depth indicates the number of perceived folders (/) that a visitor will need to get past to reach your page. This is yet another area that’s about minimising the length of your URL. For instance, let’s consider this URL:
I could have created the same URL as:
But which one is easier for the visitor?
In this example, the difference may not seem as obvious due to the simplistic URL structure but it’s the principle that matters.
If you think in the context of eCommerce Site URLs with tens of Product Categories & anywhere from thousands to tens of thousands of products, the importance of page depth starts to gain greater prominence.
Remember, SEO URLs is all about simplifying things for the human searcher. If you simplify things for human searchers, you’ll be rewarded with higher SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). You can let the long URLs stand. There’s no compulsion to change them. But it’s worthwhile to simplify things for your searchers.
Back in 2018, Google had made it clear that the number of folders wouldn’t affect rankings. However, Google also made it clear that the page depth (the number of clicks to get to the desired page from your home page) would affect rankings. Therefore, you need to make it easier to get to key ranking content from your homepage.
This short blog post synthesises the most important and actionable points for a small to mid-sized ecommerce store. I use all the techniques discussed here with great success for ecommerce clients.
At Digital Chakra, we specialise in creating first-rate ecommerce websites that not only convert well but also bring back shoppers. Whether you’re looking to build a brand new online store or improve your current one, our team can help you in meeting all your ecommerce SEO needs.