Fixing Metadata Issues: URLs

The URL is displayed above the title on the search results page. It is the address of the page.

If a URL is too long it will be truncated in search results, which doesn’t allow users to easily verify the page they are going to.

The first step in shortening URLs is to determine whether the URL should be shortened at all since it involves redirecting pages and this can actually damage SEO if not handled correctly. According to Google, URL length is not a ranking factor for website pages, so often it is best to leave the current URLs alone and focus on best practices moving forward.

To fix or not to fix?

The important deciding factor of whether or not a URL should be shortened is the structure of the URL. A well structured URL will show a visitor exactly where they are at on your website by listing the page structure instead of a nonsensical string of letters or numbers. For example, the following URL is long, but well structured:

Just by looking at this URL we can see that it is on the Friends of the Earth Website, in News, and this page is about how international grassroots leaders call on the treasury department to center their voices. If we can see this, then the search engine crawlers can too, and will have no problem indexing this page.

As another example, however, the following URL is not structured well since it is full of random text and numbers that are unrecognizable.

As long as the structure of the URL is good, it can be left as is since it will be indexed just fine. If the structure of the URL is bad, as in the second example, it is necessary to change the URL to a cleaner, shorter URL and perform a 301 redirect to point users to the new URL.

Shortening URLs Using Yoast SEO Premium

We do not recommend shortening your URLs and redirecting them manually if you are not familiar with the process since a bad redirect will result in a 404 error (page not found), and that is really bad for SEO. Luckily, there is a simple way to fix the URLs that need to be shortened using the Yoast SEO Premium plugin. This plugin will offer to automatically redirect visitors after a URL is changed, so it is a clean and simple way to get this done.

  1. Make sure the Yoast SEO Premium plugin is activated on your website. (If you aren’t sure how to do this, the Cornershop team can help.) 

  2. Rewrite the slug of the page you want to shorten the URL for.

    1. The slug is everything after the domain name and parent pages (or categories) in the URL:

    2. Shorten the slug by removing all words that aren’t absolutely necessary, but leave dashes between the words since Google reads these as spaces. Example: leaders-call-treasury-to-center-voices

    3. When choosing what words to keep or delete, remember that you still want the slug to be recognizable as having the same subject as the page title.

  3. Copy the new slug, open your WordPress dashboard, and navigate to the page or post you want to fix in the list.

  4. Click on Quick Edit under the page or post title.

  5. Paste the new slug into the slug box and click the blue UPDATE button to the right.

  6. A popup box will appear asking if you would like to redirect visitors to the new URL. Click OK in the pop up box.

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