Here at PuTTin’ OuT, we don’t usually try to get too technical with our followers. Typically we keep social media marketing as the name of our game, but when you’re talkin’ SMM, you’re talkin’ Google SERP, and when you’re talkin’ Google SERP, you’re talkin’ SEO.
And sometimes that means getting gritty with some tech stuff, like URL structures. This is the way your website URLs are presented in the search bar, in hyperlinks, and in search results – you know, the “www” and the “/” and the hyphens and all that.
Why URL Structures Matter
Google is all about ease of use for Googlers, and helping improve that means making sure search results are efficient and high-ranking websites are high-quality: as in all their content is 100% unique and they have their site structure in a logical order. For instance, what would you rather click on:
Both go to the same blog post, but one lets you know what you’re getting into, the other doesn’t. People don’t like mystery when it comes to clicking things.
This is where duplicate URLs come into play. Here we have two URLs for the same page – if we start posting both of them, Google’s crawlers will see this as duplicate content and stop indexing whichever one seems less relevant/user-friendly. Google doesn’t actually directly penalize you for incidental duplicate content like this (unless it seems you’re intentionally doing it for SEO purposes), but this can also lead to 404 errors, which DOES hurt your search ranking.
How to Fix Your URLs
Google likes simplicity, so if your URLs have all kinds of “/category=” type of nonsense, get rid of it. Notice our links are all [domain]/[category]/[webpage title]. Doesn’t get simpler than that.
This could take some work, but it’s worth it. You want consistency throughout your whole site. You also want to be sure that every time you hyperlink within your site, you use the same permanent links EVERY SINGLE TIME (again, see example above). No duplicates!!
If you’ve changed your URL structure, make sure to apply 301 redirects within the “head” html content of those pages so they go to the new pages. This is ESPECIALLY true if you have a separate mobile website domain structure.
Noindex-ing old domains could wind up getting Google spiders to de-index both the new and old pages. Use this ONLY for syndicated content you don’t want crawled at all, such as if you guest-posted a blog from your website to someone else’s.