Thanks to modern algorithms, URLs are less impactful for search engine optimization, but well-designed URLs are still vital.
Evaluating the SEO for WordPress sites and other websites can’t be considered complete until after you have optimized your URLs.
But first, you must understand the parts of a URL and how you create URLs for your websites.
Let’s take a look at what URLs are, how we create them, and how we can optimize our URLs.
What is a URL?
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or website address is used similarly to how we use a house address in the real world.
Just like you might find a friend’s home by plugging a house address into your GPS, your internet browser uses a URL to find the location of a website.
Difference Between a URL and a Domain Name?
A domain name is an internet resource name that can often be confused with a URL.
However, a domain name is actually just one part of a URL.
For example, “bloggingtips.com” is a root domain name, while “https://bloggingtips.com/directory/” is a complete URL.
How Does a URL Work?
Your web browser is able to reach a specific site on the Internet by analyzing a URL to find the site’s location.
It accomplishes this by “reading” the parts of the URL, including the protocol, root domain, subdomains, and more.
What is the Purpose of a URL?
The purpose of a URL is to allow an Internet browser to retrieve a published online resource from a web server.
This resource might be a web page, audio file, pdf document, or any other resource with a URL address.
Different Types of URLs
A URL consists of several components that each serve its own important function.
Additionally, we can distinguish different types of URLs by their top-level domain (TLD).
Let’s break down the parts of a URL in more detail.
Different Parts of a URL
As we mentioned earlier, the root domain name is only one part of a complete URL.
Let’s look at the other parts of a URL.
- Protocol: The protocol is the first part of a URL, displayed as “http” or “https.” The protocol outlines the rules of communication for browsers and web servers.
- Top-Level Domain: The TLD is the last part of the domain name. While .com is by far the most popular and versatile TLD, they can be hard to get and expensive. Thankfully, there are plenty alternatives to .com domains including .org, .gov, and .net.
- Subdomain: A subdomain points to a more specific section of a website that is nested under the root domain.
Here’s an example of a URL with a protocol, subdomain, root domain, and top-level domain. https://uk.yoursite.com
Do URLs Affect SEO?
Yes, a URL is considered one of the minor search engine ranking factors that affect how the engine evaluates your site’s relevance for the query used.
The most impactful way to use a URL to enhance search engine rankings is through the use of keywords.
Why is a URL Important for SEO?
Perhaps the most important way a URL influences search engine optimization is by improving the overall user experience.
Well-designed URLs help users (and engines) easily understand what your site has to offer and what a user can expect by visiting your website.
Besides improving your search engine rankings and enhancing the user experience, a visually pleasing URL can serve as its own anchor text for linking purposes.
Many sites, such as Facebook, will not format links.
This lack of formatting can make users less likely to click on the link.
But if the URL uses coherent language and composition, you are more likely to see traffic from that link.
Is a URL Necessary?
Yes, every website must have a URL in order for users to visit the site.
However, it isn’t necessary to use a specific protocol.
Before you decide, though, be aware that “Https” is the modern standard.
Companies like Google use HTTPS as a ranking signal, so your site will appear lower in the rankings if you don’t use it.
Process of Registering a URL
Before using a URL, you have to choose a domain name and register it through a domain registrar.
The URL Registration Process
- Choose a domain name
- Contact a domain registrar
- Check the domain’s availability
- Choose the suffix
- Purchase the domain
- Add ID information
How to Register a URL
Let’s take a more detailed look at the steps necessary to register a new URL.
1. Choose a Domain Name
Take the time to research and design a domain name that fits your business or brand and will provide maximum value to your users.
Use clear, concise language with one or more keywords for full search engine optimization.
2. Contact a Domain Registrar
ICANN is a nonprofit organization that oversees the management of all domains worldwide.
They authorize companies to register domain names.
Some popular domain registrars include Bluehost, Domain.com, and GoDaddy.
3. Check the Domain’s Availability
After you choose a registrar, you will need to conduct a search to determine if your desired domain name is available.
Unfortunately, sometimes the domain name you want is unavailable.
If this happens to you, try integrating different keywords or take a step back to brainstorm a domain that works for your needs.
4. Choose the Suffix
Choosing the TLD or suffix for your domain is the next step.
The best suffix is often .com since it is the one with which users are the most familiar.
However, if your domain name is unavailable with this suffix or if it costs too much, you can consider other options such as .net or .org.
You can also research other TLD options, such as .co or .us, for your domain name.
5. Purchase the Domain
The next step is to actually purchase the domain.
The fee to acquire a domain name can range widely; however, the typical registration fee is between $10 to $15.
This fee secures your domain name registration for a year, after which you will need to renew your registration.
6. Add ID Information
After registering your domain name, ICANN requires that you provide contact information, including your name, physical address, email address, and phone number.
This information is available to the public, but you can for domain privacy through the registrar.
After you finish registering your domain name, you are ready to select a web hosting service and begin building your site.
URL Best Practices
Use HTTPS Protocol
HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP that uses an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to encrypt the data that travels between a browser and a website.
Using HTTPS for your domain lends it more validity and automatically places your website higher in Google search engine ranking than it would sit with only an HTTP protocol.
Use Hyphens to Separate Words
URLs can’t use underscores or spaces.
Using hyphens increases the readability of your URL for human users and helps web crawlers more accurately index your site.
Increased readability also helps make the URL more effective when using it as its own anchor text for linking.
Redirect Old URLs
As your website ages, you will most likely make changes to your site’s layout and URLs.
To avoid directing your users to dead pages, consider using permanent redirects.
You can accomplish this by using a 301 redirect to take users to the new URL automatically.
Be careful not to add too many redirects, though, as it can slow down your website.
URL Tools to Save Time and Money
Using URL tools is a smart way to improve your site’s SEO.
URL tools such as link shorteners or URL inspectors are an efficient way to manage your URLs while also saving you time and effort.
What is a URL Tool?
Just as the name suggests, URL tools are software and features you can use to manage your URLs.
These tools can allow you to edit your URLs, review indexing information, and more.
Our Favorite URL Tools
Here are a few of our favorite tools for building and improving URLs.
1. Best Domain Registrars
Choosing a good domain registrar is one of the most important decisions you can make for your website.
The best domain registrars don’t only offer URL registration; they also provide management tools, security features, and other functions that make your website more effective.
Bluehost is one of the most popular domain registrars, and for a good reason.
The company provides premium security features and excellent loading speeds at affordable rates.
GoDaddy has been around for a while, and it continues to lead the industry thanks to its helpful web management tools.
Some of the tools that GoDaddy provides its customers include a domain name generator, a drag-and-drop WordPress website builder, and an appraisal tool that analyzes the value of your URL.
Another long-standing leader in the industry, Namecheap, gives users tools that make building and maintaining your sites straightforward.
Domain privacy protection, free website migration, and virus scanners are just a few of Namecheap’s valuable tools.
2. Domain Privacy
Domain privacy (or Whois privacy) is a service you can purchase from your domain registrar.
Implementing a domain privacy service ensures that the domain registrar will hide the personal information you provide when registering your new domain name from the public.
This tool is not required to use your URL, but we recommend using it.
3. Link Shorteners
The best link shorteners are straightforward tools that allow you to take your long, cumbersome URLs and turn them into shorter, more impactful links.
With a link shortener tool, you can make links more visually appealing and, hopefully, increase your conversion rates.
Other Related SEO Terms to Know
It is crucial to understand basic SEO terms to learn how to improve SEO.
Here are a few of the most common:
- Keyword: A keyword is a term that describes your content. Keywords are the terms that users type into a search engine.
- SERP: SERP is an acronym for “search engine results page.” This is the list of results you see after entering a query into a search engine
- 301 Redirect: A 301 redirect is a “moved permanently” redirect that still provides the old link’s full ranking power to the redirected page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a couple of the most often asked questions about URLs.
What are the different parts of a URL?
It is possible to have a considerable number of parts in a URL, but almost every URL will have at least five elements.
The five most common components of a URL include the protocol, subdomain, root domain, and top-level domain.
Other parts of a URL include a port number, query string separator, query string parameter, and fragment.
How do I create a URL?
To create a URL for a new website, you must first choose a domain name, register it with a domain registrar, select your protocol and top-level domain, and then purchase the URL.
Creating URLs for new web pages on an existing website is even easier.
You can make these URLs using tools provided by your domain registrar, web hosting service, or independent site-building tools.
Now that you know how a URL is structured and how URLs affect SEO, you can start to build your URLs to improve your online presence.
This guide gives you a helpful step-by-step guide for registering new URLs with a domain registrar and also outlines several best practices and tools.
If you’re interested in improving your search engine rankings and conversion rates, study this guide and create URLs that work for you.