URL structure is the organization of a website’s pages and content. It is the way a website’s pages are arranged and linked together. The URL structure should be easy for users to understand and for search engines to crawl. A well-structured website will also load faster and be easier to navigate. The URL structure of a website is important because it can affect a website’s search engine optimization (SEO).
The Anatomy of a URL
When we talk about the anatomy of a URL, we are referring to the different parts that make up a URL. These parts are:
1. The protocol: This is the part of the URL that specifies what protocol is being used. The most common protocols are HTTP and HTTPS, but there are others as well.
2. The domain and suffix: This is the main website address that you are visiting. For example, the domain and suffix for Google is “google.com”.
3. The path: This is the specific page or resource that you are trying to access on the website. For example, if you wanted to visit the “About” page on Google, the path would be “/about”.
4. The query string: This is optional information that can be passed along to the server when requesting a resource. Query strings are typically used for things like search parameters or form data. (e.g., ?page=1).
5. The fragment: This is also optional information that can be passed along to the server. Fragments are typically used to specify a specific section or anchor on a page. It is denoted by “#” in the address bar.
When it comes to URL structure, there are a few key things you want to keep in mind in order to optimize your URLs.
First and foremost, you want to make sure that your URLs are as short and concise as possible. The last thing you want is a long, drawn-out URL that is difficult for users to remember or type out.
Secondly, you want to use keywords throughout your URL whenever possible. This will help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for those specific keywords.
Finally, you always want to use hyphens (-) to separate words in your URL, as opposed to underscores (_). Hyphens are much easier for users to read and understand, which makes them more likely to click on your link.
The Benefits of an Optimized URL Structure
An optimized URL structure can have many benefits for your website. It can help search engines to better index your pages, make your site more navigable, and improve the overall user experience.
A well-structured URL is important for two main reasons: One, it helps search engines understand what your page is about; second, it can affect your click-through rate from the search engine results page (SERP).
URLs should be short and descriptive. They should be easy to read and understand. A good URL structure can also help users remember the address of your website and navigate back to it more easily.
Here are some tips for creating an optimized URL structure:
Use keyword-rich phrases in your URLs.
Keep URLs short and concise.
Use hyphens to separate words in your URLs.
Avoid using special characters in your URLs.
If you follow these tips, you will create an optimized URL structure that can help improve your website’s search engine ranking and overall user experience.
Different Types of Permalink (URL) Structure on WordPress
WordPress permalinks are the web addresses used to link to your blog posts and pages. By default, WordPress uses a simple permalink structure that looks like this: http://example.com/?p=123, However, you can change your permalink structure to something more user-friendly and SEO-friendly.
Each permalink structure has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the right one for your website. The most important factor to consider is how you want your website to be structured and what kind of content you’ll be posting.
Different types of permalinks can have a big impact on your website. The most common permalink structures are:
Example of website URL – http://example.com/?p=123
If you’re just starting out, the plain permalink structure is the easiest to set up and doesn’t require any extra configuration. However, it’s not very user-friendly or visually appealing, so it’s not a good option if you’re looking to attract new readers or grow your audience.
Day and name Permalink
Example of website URL – http://example.com/2013/08/01/post-title/
The day and name permalink structure is a good middle ground between the plain permalink structure and the more complex structures like post name or numeric. It’s easy to set up and can be easily changed if you need to switch to a different structure later on. However, it does add an extra level of complexity to your URLs, which can make them harder to remember or type out.
Month and name Permalink
Example of website URL – http://example.com/2013/08/post-title/
The month and name permalink structure is similar to the day and name structure, but adds an extra level of specificity to the URLs. This can be helpful if you post a lot of content and want readers to be able to easily find older posts. However, it can also make your URLs longer and more difficult to remember.
Example of website URL – http://example.com/archives/12345
The numeric permalink structure is the most complex of all the options, but it offers the most flexibility. With this structure, you can specify the exact order in which your posts will appear in your archives. This can be helpful if you have a lot of content and want to control how it’s organized. However, it can also make your URLs very long and difficult to remember.
Post name Permalink
Example of website URL – http://example.com/post-title/
The post name permalink structure is the most user-friendly of all the options. It’s easy to remember and makes your URLs look clean and professional. However, it doesn’t offer as much flexibility as some of the other structures.
How To Change URL Structure in WordPress
Setting up the right URL structure can help you boost your online visibility a lot faster. It mainly helps the search engines get a better idea about your content, if your keywords are present in the URL. I would recommend changing to the “Post name Permalink” structure for SEO.
To change your URL structure in WordPress, navigate to Settings > Permalinks
There are 6 different types of permalink structures available on WordPress that you can choose from. If you have just set up your website on WordPress then by default you would be on the “Plain” permalink structure.
Simply click on the radio button for “Post name” and hit save.
WordPress will automatically change all the URL(s) on your website as per the new permalink structure. However, if you are making this change after a while (2 or more months) since your website went live, all the links (internal as well as external) are going get broken.
How to Fix Broken Links with 301 Re-directs
301 signals a permanent redirect from one URL to another, meaning all users that request an old URL will be automatically sent to a new URL. It is important to set up 301 re-directs as it signals to search engines that the content on the old URL is PERMANANTLY shifted to the new URL.
Of course there are several other re-directs such as 302 or 307 which you can use however, it signals the search engines that the re-direction is temporary and not to transfer any Domain Authority to the new URL.
Since we want to change the permalink structure for good, we need to use 301 re-direct! Fortunately, WordPress has plugins that makes life a lot easier.
Step #1 – Go to Plugins > Add New > Search for 301 redirect
Step #2 – Download any 301 redirect plugin. For this example I’m using 301 Redirect by WebFactory Ltd
Step #3 – Install and Activate
Step #4 – Click on “Manage Redirects”
Step #5 – Select the re-direct type as 301 for permanent redirection.
Step #6 – Enter old URL on the left under “Redirect From” and the new URL on the right under “Redirect to”
Step #7 – Hit Save
These 7 simple steps are all that is required to fix all the broken links (internal or external) on your website.
How to Find All The Broken Links after a Permalink Structure change
1. Sitemap.xml: You can find all the old URLs in your sitemap.xml, simply go to yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml. In case the sitemap was automatically updated by a plugin that you might be using, then,
2. Broken Link Checker: Download the broken link checker extension from Chrome and run it on your website, or,
3. Screaming Frog: You can download and use ScreamingFrog on your workstation and run an audit to identify the 404 URL errors on your website.
4. Google Search Console: You can also check for the 404 not found error on GSC however, there is a delay by Google in identifying the broken links. Google may take as little as a few minutes or a few days to crawl and share the URLs under 404
If your website has less than 50-70 URLs then the entire ordeal shouldn’t take more than an hour to fix. If you have more than 100 URLs then, consider every URL redirect is 1 minute of your time. You should be done within 2 hours tops. Alternately, you could pay for a premium re-direct plugin to auto identify and fix.
Ensure that the broken links (especially internal) are fixed ASAP. You can read this article to understand why it is priority #1 – Why Internal Links are more important than External Links
The Post Name permalink structure is the most user and crawler friendly which is loved by all the SEOs. Almost 99% of websites on Google Top 10 will have a simplified URL structure which is easy to read and consists of keywords which are visible on SERP (above the Title). From an SEO standpoint, the more your keywords appear on SERP, the better are your chances to rank for them.