SEO Tutorial: Optimal URL Structure for SEO

We will show you the elements of a URL and provide recommendations for an optimal URL structure.

The URL structure of a website is an important part of an SEO strategy. Readable and well-structured URLs have a positive impact on click-trough-rates and encourage people to share links on other websites and on social media – all these aspects are important Google ranking factors.

Structure of a URL

The graphic below shows the elements of a URL and their names:

Elements of a URL


In the summer of 2014 Google defined HTTPS as a ranking factor. So far the impact of this ranking signal has been low. However, Google is now planning to make HTTPS a stronger ranking factor.

Recommendation: If trustworthiness is very important for your business (e.g. if you are a bank or an online shop), we recommend HTTPS. However, you do not need to hurry for switching your website (yet).  

Top Level-Domain

There are two general types of Top Level-Domains (TLDs):

  1. Generic TLDs like .com or .net

  2. Country-specific TLDs like .ch or .de


  • Local targeting for one country: Country-specific TLDs are a strong geographic signal for search engines and for users. If exactly one country is relevant for your business, we recommend a country-specific TLD.

  • International targeting: If your business is global or you are targeting different countries, we recommend a generic TLD. These are the reasons:

    • If you have different TLDs, you need to do link building, content marketing and social media separately for each of your TLDs.

    • There are other effective possibilities to tell search engines about your geographic targeting: Use the targeting settings in Google Search Console and the hreflang tag

Subdomain vs Subfolder

According to Google, it has no impact on your ranking positions whether you use subfolders (e.g. or subdomains (e.g. However, several tests show that subfolders are likely to rank better than subdomains.

Recommendation: We recommend using subfolders. 

URL Parameters

URL parameters are usually not descriptive and as a result do not meet the SEO best practice guidelines. Google officially recommends not using URL parameters for your geographic and language targeting.
This is an example URL with parameters:

Recommendation: Use subfolders instead of URL parameters. The only good use case for parameters is pagination (e.g. for blog overview pages). 

SEO Principles

The following principles for URL structure are always valid:

  • A URL should be readable and not consist of random characters.

  • Words should always be separated with hyphens (avoid underscores).

  • Shorter URLs should be preferred over longer ones.


If you follow these recommendations, you will have an optimal URL structure both for search engines and users. If you have any questions about search engine optimization, feel free to contact me.