A Beginner's Guide to Structure Blog Post URLs

A Beginner's Guide to Structure Blog Post URLs

Essential tips for structuring blog post URLs before you write your first blog entry: best practices and important aspects to consider.

Before sharing your first blog post, one of the things you should definitely pay attention to is how your blog posts and their URLs should be organized. I will talk about how you should structure your blog posts URLs, best practices and the things you should avoid.

Please do not skip this article if your intent is ranking on search engines. I have learned these lessons in a hard way. I wasted a great deal of time to fix my mistakes.

Therefore, I definitely recommend reading this article before writing your first blog post.

A Beginner’s Guide for an SEO-Friendly URL Structure

Let's get started with the essential questions that clarify the importance of having a proper URL structure.

What happens when you don't have a proper URL structure?

If you don't follow the practices here, it may be possible for Google to index a page differently than you thought. (We’ll discuss that later)

You link to another article in one of your posts. Later, you realize the link targets a URL other than Google has indexed.

If rankings on search engines are your concern, you should either change the link’s address to the address of what Google indexed or manually remove that page from Google search results. If you are dealing with many pages, such as an e-commerce website, it would take you many hours to fix that.

You can watch the official answer of Google that mentions the potential adverse effects when you change your URL structure later on.

An Analogy to Understand a URL and a Domain Name

Maybe an analogy explains better what a URL and a domain name are.

URL is the abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator (URL), colloquially known as a web page’s unique address.

A URL has different parts, such as protocol, domain, TLD, subdirectory, slug, and URL parameters.

The part after the TLD (Top Level Domain) is customizable by you (if you are the registrant of that domain) and the main topic of this article is how you should customize that.

URL Parts

Almost all of us have mobile phones. A mobile phone has a unique phone number similar to a website’s URL. It is difficult to remember phone numbers; thus, we save a phone number with a proper name, such as whose it belongs. After, when we try to call a friend in the contact list, the mobile device calls the number of that friend.

This is similar to a website such as the one you are reading. A website's actual address consists of several numbers that we call IP numbers. IP numbers are also difficult to remember, like mobile phone numbers.

Mobile numbers and IP numbers

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could save those IP numbers with a proper name?

Yes, and we are doing that. Browsers do that for us in the background.

The main difference between those two situations is to whom those records are available and accessible.

A contact with a name and a phone number exists only on the registered device.

On the other hand, when you buy (!) a domain name, you actually rent it for a limited time. More specifically, you become the domain holder and have the right to which IP address that domain name should point out.

Moreover, the record that holds the domain name and the IP number it points out is globally available.

How browsers know the IP number of any domain is the topic of public DNS (Domain Name System) resolver and it is out of the scope of this article.

Part I: Make A Blog URL structure as SEO-friendly

The first thing to understand is the ideal pattern for a blog post URL.

Which URL structure is Better: Flat or Hierarchical?

At a higher level, you have two options to structure your blog post URLs:

  1. Flat URL structure

  2. Hierarchical URL structure (Top-down or Pyramid)

URL Structures

According to an official answer from Google, using a hierarchical URL rather than a flat one seems more beneficial.

What are the Benefits of Using a Hierarchical URL structure

It helps you to keep semantically related content together. By doing that, you signal a message to the crawlers. This helps search engines understand the context of the post better.

Moreover, separating blog posts according to their categories allows you to create different content silos for different topics. Even free blogging platforms support that feature.

But what that means? Let me explain.

What is a Content Silo?

A content silo is a method of grouping related content together on your website to establish the site's keyword-based topical areas or themes. Think of it as organizing your website into different sections or "silos," each dedicated to a specific topic.

This structure helps search engines understand the themes of your site, and it also enhances user experience by making navigation easier.

Content Silos

In other words, content silos may play a role in being an authority on different topics.

Another question is coming.

What does being an authority on a topic means?

One of the four pillars of search engine optimization (E-E-A-T) is being an authority (A) on the topic you want to rank for. It means more than just knowledge. People with authority on a specific topic are trusted and influential people on that topic. They consistently provide value to others through their expertise.

This concept is also known as topical authority.

What does topical authority mean?

The term refers to the level of expertise or credibility a website or content creator has on a specific subject matter. It's like being the go-to source for information on that particular topic. The concept is rooted in the idea that search engines, like Google, favor sites that provide comprehensive and reliable information on specific topics.

By consistently grouping related content under specific category slugs, you're showing search engines that you have multiple pieces of content revolving around this topic. This can help to establish your site as an authoritative source on that subject.

If you need a deeper knowledge about that, I can suggest you to read these two articles:

Considering the benefits I mentioned above, I can say that using a hierarchical URL structure is better.

This means you should categorize your blog posts and insert the category’s slug between a post slug and the domain, separated by a slash.

Preventing Duplicate Content

However, if you are using the URL structure that follows /category/post-slug, it is possible that you will have duplicate content issues. Let me clarify.

It is not a rare scenario for a post with multiple categories.

This causes content duplication.

To prevent this, you must use the canonical address method.

For a given post with multiple categories, you choose one of them as the canonical address and use that one in all versions of that post. By doing that, you tell Google to index only the canonical address and ignore others.

Post with Multiple Categories

Now, we can proceed to the next part.

Part II: Making Blog Post URLs as SEO-friendly

Keyword research is the first step in search engine optimization. However, it is not the scope of this article.

For the sake of the continuity of this article, I’ll assume that you did keyword research and decided to rank one of those keywords from the research.

So, we have a keyword that we want to rank for.

Before proceeding, I must mention one very important term: slug.

What is a slug?

Slug is a part of the URL and makes a page distinct from another. The human-readable and URL-normalized version of the given text can be a category name or a post title. The blogging platform you choose generally automates this text process but can be changed manually.

For instance, in "www.example.com/books/fiction", the slug, 'books/fiction', is composed of the slugified version of category and the product names.

This is the most important part of structuring your blog post URLs, and it must be applied to both the category and the post part of a URL.

We have already decided which keyword we want to rank for.

One of the best practices for search engine optimization is using the keyword in the URL. But why?

Does using keywords in URLs Affect Rankings?

Yes, using keywords in URLs is a ranking factor. On the other hand, according to Google Search Advocate John Mueller, it has a very lightweight effect.

This means we will mention the keyword in the slug.

In general, the post slug is auto-generated by your blogging platform. If it is auto-generated, you’ll see that the slug of the post is based on the title of the post. It is a common practice also.

The more important part is how you customize that slug, either based on the title or not.

The Best Practices for Structuring Blog Post URLs

When structuring the URLs of your blog posts for optimal performance in search engine optimization (SEO), it is important to follow a set of best practices that make your URLs more readable and relevant to both users and search engines.

To apply these practices, your blogging platform must support a category and tag system. Otherwise, you can check the blogging platforms that support the category system.

Here are some guidelines to structure your blog post URLs effectively:

  1. Use Descriptive Keywords: Incorporate the primary keyword related to your blog post into the URL to explain what the post is about. This helps with SEO and gives users an idea of what to expect before they click the link.

  2. Keep it Simple and Specific: Aim to keep your URL structure simple, short, and precise. Although the URL length does not affect rankings, it would be nice to avoid long and complex URLs. By following this practice, you can focus on the most important keywords that capture the essence of your blog post.

  3. Use Hyphens to Separate Words: Even though it doesn't affect rankings which one do you prefer, to enhance readability, use hyphens rather than underscores to separate words within your URL. You

  4. Avoid Unnecessary Words: Trim stop words like "and," "or," "but," "the," etc., as they add unnecessary length and don't contribute much to search engine understanding.

  5. Utilize Lowercase Letters: URLs are case-sensitive by definition. Although it is possible to use all upper case, all lowercase, or maybe mixed case, it's a standard practice to use all lowercase letters in URLs to avoid confusion. Google says its crawler can handle those variations, but it needs to be figured out first. Therefore, please follow all lowercase practice.

  6. Omit Special Characters: Special characters and symbols can make URLs look cluttered and can cause issues with some browsers and servers. Use letters without the diacritical version. Stick to letters and numbers only if that number makes sense where possible.

  7. Exclude Dates and Numbers: Unless they're integral to the content, avoid including dates and excessive numbers, which can make your URL unnecessarily long and less evergreen.

  8. Avoid Keyword Repetition: Don't overuse keywords in the URL as this can look spammy and may not be beneficial for SEO.


The image above shows an example slug of a post with a title "What types of Kyber Crystals Exists?" located under "Star Wars" category.

You can also read the official guideline: URL structure best practices for Google

By adhering to these practices, your blog post URLs will be well-optimized for search engines, contributing to a better user experience and potentially improving the visibility and ranking of your content in search results.