Have you ever copied and pasted a URL and been left with a 100+ character link of alien looking symbols and phrases? It’s a common problem in today’s hyperlink-driven world of the “Internet of Everything”, and one that needs to be tidily addressed for any enterprising dental practice.
(Example of what we don’t want)
Search engine friendly (SEF) URLs are vitally important to your practice’s online presence. One may argue that so long as a URL is active and leads the user to the correct content, its appearance is irrelevant. While it is true that a URL must be active, its appearance is also important.
Because search engine algorithms are designed to identify website components which will appeal to human users, it is important that all elements of your practice’s website be appealing to humans. This means legible, easily understood URLs. Humans like to have an idea of where they’re headed when they click on a link. Therefore, it is crucial that your URLs include words relevant to the user’s queries.
A smattering of question marks, hyphens, and desultory letters and numbers will confuse, distract, and ultimately dissuade users from clicking (and thus from making appointments). Search engine algorithms know this and will rank results accordingly. We can see this insight coming directly from Google’s own guidelines here.
Overly complex URLs, especially those containing multiple parameters, can cause a problems for crawlers by creating unnecessarily high numbers of URLs that point to identical or similar content on your site. As a result, Googlebot may consume much more bandwidth than necessary, or may be unable to completely index all the content on your site. -Google Guidelines
When working with your SEO consultant, make sure that he or she includes logical sequencing in the construction of your SEF URLs. For example, if you want to create a SEF URL to your online contact form, the link should follow a categorized format (also called routing):
http://www.yourdentalpractice.com/contact/onlinesubmission ( We Want This Type of Link )
You want this or something similar. If the URL does not appeal and make sense to the human eye, it may rank poorly among search engine algorithms. In addition, it is a signal not to trust that link, as the user does not know where it will go. Many URLs are automatically generated using ‘dynamic parameters,’ which are coded messages between domains to specify where they are situated. Avoid them at all costs.
(Create Powerful, Search Engine Friendly URLS)
Unfortunately, many dental practices feature online presences with URLs reading something like this, full of dynamic parameters:
(We Don’t Want This Type of Link )
This is not good. Although this URL will route the user to a different website from the primary domain, search engines algorithms will often consider these garbled URLs as the same as their domain’s home page, despite the fact that the URLs link to different content.
To see this principle in action, do a Google search on anything. Read the URLs of the top hits—without fail, the vast majority will be very readable, sensible URLs that make sense to both a human eye and Google’s algorithms. While they may contain many words and characters, each word and character therein is relevant to the linked content. This is no accident! The professionals behind these URLs were aware of the protocol of these algorithms and designed the URLs as such.
The only time that it is advisable to add characters or words to a URL are when the added words are keywords. SEF URLs will often contain added keywords to assure users that what they are clicking on is what they are looking for. While it may be true that a SEF URL contains words relevant to the search, the addition of keywords will ramp up the attention the SEF URL receives by both the human eye and search engine algorithms.
Hope this helps you to optimize your own sites! If you find any URLs on your site which are not SEF, just let your web team know to make those changes, and they should be able to make it happen. To your ranking success!