On-Site SEO for Lawyers: SEO Friendly URLs for Attorneys
Chris Dreyer | July 29, 2016
What Are They?
Let’s hit the acronyms first. SEF stands for Search Engine Friendly and URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. A URL is the address where a page is found and making them SEF means making them easy for search engines to interpret. Google has advanced a lot since its inception but the algorithm can still have difficulty understanding special characters in URLs1.
Aside from search engines, people also have a hard time reading and understanding long ugly URLs. Of course there are exceptions like tracking URLs or those that are dynamic. For the most part though, attorneys should strive to make their URLs as simple as possible for both humans and search engines.
Here’s some tips on what you should and should not do with your URLs.
- Make them simple by excluding stop words like and, the, or other short terms that don’t add to the value of the description of a page.
- Exclude special characters from URLs that are not dynamic. These include things like question marks, dollar signs and other types of punctuation. Underscores and hyphens are now ok but avoid using spaces because they render awkwardly.
- Try to avoid using dynamic URLs2 altogether.
- Make your URLs as short as you can. If there are words that don’t need to be in there, cut them out.
- Use a single domain or sub-domain where you can.
- Use your keywords in your URL. They contribute to the overall ranking of the page. URLs also get used as anchor text regularly so if your keyword is included, it gets included in the anchor text of a link. Keywords in URLs also show in SERPs.
- Match your URLs to the titles of your pages or posts when it makes sense.
- Limit redirection to 3 levels or less. Too many redirects and Google will stop following the path to the final URL.
- Avoid hashes in URLs that are used for creating separate content. For example #new-content that takes users to a different page that has new and unique content.
- Make sure URLs are not case sensitive. As a best practice, all URLs should be lower case by default. Making upper case URLs or some characters in a URL uppercase increases the chances that links built may break.
Check Your URLs
Lawyers who are unsure of whether their URLs are search engine friendly can check them at SEOsitecheckup.com3. It’s a semi-free tool that will show you some of the URLs on your site that could be causing issues. It’s just a starting point but it can give lawyers an idea of what URLs are suspect and which are ok.
Writing your URLs is pretty simple and methods vary based on your website. Lawyers on WordPress can will notice that URLs are automatically generated from their post or page titles.
If you don’t like the way your URL looks or you just want to have a different URL in comparison to your page title, click the edit button next to URL below the title text box in WordPress. The title has to be created first in order for that to show but once it does, click the edit button and you can change the URL to whatever you want.
Changing Your Permalinks
By default, URLs in WordPress follow a date format. It won’t necessarily hurt your site to leave things that way but URLs are much more readable by humans when they are words instead of numbers. It also makes it easier to categorize things. If you notice that your default URLs are still displaying you can change that by going to settings > permalinks. There you can change your permalinks to have the post or page name instead of the date format. Changing your URLs4 in WordPress won’t break anything and all of your old formats will redirect to the new ones.