Clean Up Your Links!

Judging from the subject of this post, you may think I’m going to start talking about external links. However, the current object of my obsession is actually your site’s internal links, and how to clean them up in terms of URL structure and link consistency.

URL Structure

    1. Examples of poor URL structure:
      www.homepage.com/store/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=438382533
      &itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=277&iSubCat=4653&iProductID=2533?
      oh_my_god_please_make_it_stop_now_this_URL_has_so_many_
      &???&????+++_parameters_that_no_user_will_ever_bookmark_or_
      link_to_it_much_less_come_up_in_relevant_search_results

 

  • Examples of good URL structure:
    www.homepage.com/happy_static_page.htm

 

 

  • Why clean URL structure is important:
    Because on the whole, cleaner URLs position better. I have personally seen sites switch to dynamic URL structure and lose all of their positions – and I’ve also seen sites clean up their URL structure, and steadily rise.

 

Clean URLs are also important from a usability standpoint. They’re easier to bookmark, and much more likely to also garner a little incoming link love.

Sure, dynamic URLs can be indexed by search engines. Dynamic URLs can position in SERPs. But I can assure you that if they do, it’s in spite of their link structure. In any given search result, the majority of the pages that appear are not dynamic. Same goes for any site:search.

Go on – I dare you. Search for site:yoursite.com, and see which pages come up first – your static ones, or your dynamic ones.

Link Consistency

    1. Examples of inconsistent internal linking:
      Inconsistent internal linking happens when you link to different versions of URLs, when mostly there’s no reason to do so:

        • Inconsistent linking to index pages:
          (homepage.com/category/index.asp vs homepage.com/category)

       

    2. Linking to pages with or without trailing slashes:
      (homepage.com/category/ vs homepage.com/category)
    3. Linking to capitalized and non-capitalized page versions:
      (homepage.com/Category vs homepage.com/category)
    4. Appending category and or breadcrumb data to the end of URLs, even though it’s the same “product”:
      (homepage.com/product&category=1 vs homepage.com/product&category=2)
    5.  
      • And so on…

 

  • Why consistent internal links are important:
    The stronger your site’s link structure, the stronger its positioning potential. Search engines such as Google judge a page’s importance by not only how many external links point to it, but also by how many internal links point to it as well.

 

By sprinkling your site with a bunch of different URLs that technically all point to the same “page”, you are allowing your link relevance to be split between all of those pages, instead of directing it towards one single page.

I understand that cleaning up your site’s internal links and URLs can be a time-consuming process, but it’s one that is worth it in the long run. You should do it because your pages will look better, your site will position better, and most of all, because Sarah said so.