How to make your great content Google and human friendly

The main purpose of your website is to provide content for people to find.
Prior website and marketing strategies were designed with search engines in mind only.

Good content is hard work - ensure your content is working hard for you!

Whether you provide a product or a service, there is no point in having a website that Google does not show to people or that people do not want to visit or engage with.

google friendly URLs

If you have to make a choice, a human friendly URL is the best way to go, but search engines should not be ignored either. We will review how to make your page URL both Google and human friendly. 


Domain Name

The most important thing to consider in your URL is your domain name. There are two important considerations to keep in mind. First, your domain name is a reflection of your business. Therefore, it should include either your business name or the main keywords pertaining to your business.

However, you should be careful of hyphenating your domain name. For example, www.carseatcovers.com.au clearly tells visitors that your website is about car seat covers. It is easy to remember as well. If you try to use hyphens in your domain name, perhaps because the name you would like is taken, it could easily confuse your audience.

For example, www.car-seat-covers.net.au is confusing to your audience and “.net” is not a common domain you would expect to find a business listed under. Your audience could accidentally go to a competitor’s website seeking a “.com.au” or miss one or all the hyphens.

Instead, focus on a domain name that is relevant to your business and use an extension your audience would be familiar with. It should also be common for your region. Perfect examples include .com, .com.au, and .org.

Finally, in regards to choosing your domain name, think long term and not short term. You want to use important keywords but not focus strictly on them. In restricting your domain name to particular keywords, you can limit your business as you grow. In the example www.carseatcovers.com.au, if you were to expand your business to sell tow bars, your website would lose search engines and brand relevance.

creating friendly page URLs

When considering a 5.folder/path and 6.page name, once again keep it short, relevant and focused. As a reference, inclusive of your domain name, try not to exceed 116 characters for any page URL.


Dynamic versus Static URLs

The dynamic URL can contain irrelevant characters such as question marks, percentage signs, ampersands, and dollar signs. A dynamic URL comes from a database driven website or the website may run scripts. Hence, you may hear a dynamic URL referred to as a messy URL. Here are a few examples found on the web:
 

  1. www.mywebsite.com.au/products/#9
  2. www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/products.php?id=745
  3. www.mywebsite.com.au/arrangements/c/1


Now ask yourself, what exactly does “products/#9” refer to? If you need to go back through your pages to make updates or include links, you will have no idea what that page is. You will be forced to go through each page and try to keep track of an inconsistent naming scheme. Imagine having hundreds of webpages set up that way. The key to creating great URLs are as follows:
 

  • Give it a voice and personality that helps you and others easily identify and remember the page
  • Use relevant keywords that help classify your website section and subject
  • Keep it targeted so its potent, short, and to the point. You want a unique URL so that it’s focused and not competing against other pages within your own website – do not keyword stuff


Instead, use a static URL. A static URL is search engine and human friendly. It gives a personality to the webpage so visitors know what to expect. If a person sees any of the above dynamic URLs, it may not address their needs. More Google and human friendly URLs would be:
 

  1. www.mywebsite.com.au/products/mens-aftershave/
  2. www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.php
  3. www.mywebsite.com.au/arrangements/corporate-flowers1


A user would know exactly what these pages pertained to. You would not have to second-guess yourself on the link either. Most up to date website programs should have a friendly URL rewrite in place or a user-friendly plugin such as Yoast for WordPress, which creates an easy to read URL.

To Hyphenate or Underscore?

Hyphens ( - ) are preferred over the use of underscores ( _ ). This is because Google may read a page address with underscores as one word instead of separating them. For example, Google would read “nike_white_runners” as “nikewhiterunners”.

If you input a hyphen, “nike-white-runners” Google will pick that up as “nike white runners”. The key thing to remember is that underscores join words while hyphens separate words. The underscore gives an exact match and can minimise your Google exposure. When you use the hyphen to separate your words, this opens your website pages to be included in more search results.

hyphenate

Being exposed to more search results is great for you because an estimated 20% of daily keyword searches have never been searched before on Google. From an SEO perspective, having broader matches is a great benefit to you. So, in our above example, “nike-white-runners”, Google will return results for the various search variations

  • Nike white runners
  • White Nike runners
  • White runners
  • Nike runners in white
  • And so on..
Links on a page are traditionally styled with an underline, using an underscore to separate words can mean they are misinterpreted as spaces and written down incorrectly.

If you currently have a website with underscores, consider using hyphens on new pages, however as per below example, Google suggests all new websites use hyphens:

  1. www.mywebsite.com.au/nike-white-runners
  2. www.mywebsite.com.au/nike_white_runners

Duplicate Content

Google frowns upon having two or more separate pages with the same content as they consider it spam. It cannot determine if your site is credible or which page should be shown in its search results.

Potential customers searching for relevant information be it in Google or within your website also dislike it as its misleading.

In some cases, the duplicate content is deliberate and other times it is unintentional. Let’s take the following examples, which are unintentional duplicate content:


  1. WWW vs. non-WWW
    • mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.php
    • www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.php
  2. Query Strings and Print Friendly Pages
    • www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.php?s=price
    • www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.php?print
    • www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.php?kword=ford&src=forum
  3. Case Sensitivity
    • www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.aspx
    • www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/BA-ford-head-gasket-745.aspx
       
google filtering content quality

WWW vs. non-WWW

Having the “www” is a preference. Many people are aware you can get to some websites without the “www”. What can often be confusing is the presentation of the website address to some and seen as a duplicate to Google. Your site pages can be considered as duplicated if the same page can be accessed with and without the “www”.

Query Strings and Printer Friendly Pages

You can find duplicate content on a product or blog based website with sort or <prev & next> options, printer-friendly pages, or when varied tracking options are added into the page.
 

Case Sensitivity

URLs are case sensitive. A good rule of thumb is to keep it all lowercase. Most modern website management systems can be setup to deliver all lower case irrespective of what is requested by your website visitors. This is highly recommended as it helps avoid human error.
 

Consolidate and Promote the Intended Version

In some cases, you cannot create a completely friendly URL with unique content. Therefore, Google recognizes this and has released a tag called rel=”canonical”. This is also known as canonicalization. It acts as an original label and tells Google the address of the original page.

consolidate and promote the right content

This works well in cases where the page URL includes a dynamic value, the same content is accessible via a different address from within your site or a third party’s website, or if you chose to use the non “www” setup. By putting in-place the right measures, you can avoid your Google exposure being negatively impacted.

For example:
 
  1. www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.php?print
    • <link rel="canonical" href=" www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.php" />
  2. www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.php?kword=ford&src=forum
    • <link rel="canonical" href=" www.mywebsite.com.au/engine-parts/ba-ford-head-gasket-745.php " />

In the above scenarios, the query string at the end of the page address is necessary to deliver the required user experience. It is not always advisable to use the canonical tag. Sometimes it is best to use the 301 redirect. Such cases include:
 
  1. 301 redirect via your CMS or hosting
  2. META REFRESH tag
  3. 302 temporary redirect (short term)

Not For Public Consumption

It is important to include a quick overview regarding the pages on your site you do not want exposed or promoted on Google or other search Engines/tools. This includes CMS admin pages, pages you have removed, T&C’s and so on. These pages have no relevance to consumers so its best practice to keep them out of a search engines’ reach.

robots.txt - I cant show what I cant see

You can prevent this manually via the robots.txt protocol. This file allows you to block pages, folders and paths and even dictate down to which search engine. Reviewing the robots.txt file along with each page to ensure they don’t use the noindex metatag is vital.
This ensures you’re not blocking Google from showing pages you want shown.

The robots.txt file is located in your website root and can be viewed with your internet browser via;
 
domain-name.com.au/robots.txt

Here is an example of a robots.txt file;

User-agent: *
Disallow: /admin/
Disallow: /App_Data/
Disallow: /CMSWebParts/
Disallow: /CMSHelp/
Disallow: /docs/
Disallow: /?search*
Disallow: /?feed=rss2
Disallow: /news-blog?tagid*
Allow: /

Be extremely carefull in using your robots.txt. Getting the logic wrong can easily result in Google and other search engines NOT showing some or all of your website pages in their search results.

For example using an incomplete 'Allow: ' opposed to 'Allow: /' can confuse search engines and result in your homepage only showing in search results.
 

Explore, Grow and Evolve

 As you can see, having Google and humans happy with your website and URLs is vital. Your URL must be pleasing to the eye of users and technically make sense to Google at the same time. This will very likely result in greater relevance, exposure and targeted website traffic.

grow and evolve

Once you have a basic understanding of the URL structure, you can slowly start to refine your website and strategically create both a Google and human friendly URL. If you are in doubt, do not hesitate to reach out and seek the help of a professional. Remember your goal is to seek long-term gains because taking short cuts or making mistakes can easily result in long-term pain.

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1 comments

ferry    |    September 12, 2014
Nice content, thank for your sharing
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