A small change to the detail in our linking code makes a big impact on how our Network sites are ranked in Google’s search results.
This addition to the process of internal linking and breadcrumb navigation looks essentially the same on the surface as it did before, except for one little thing; The ‘/’ at the end of the URLs of the Presenting Org Name Links, the Venue Locations links, and the Breadcrumb Navigation links.
Why was this change important?
Google perceives URLs with and without trailing slashes as different addresses. This means that without the uniformity of having trailing slashes on all links, the search results for that a particular event (or any other form of content) now offer multiple ways for the site user to access that information. That’s bad for SEO.
Let’s use an event as an example. The best way to end up on the first page of a search result is to make sure Google notices that lots of people are checking out your event detail page. When people find the event through multiple different URL pathways, this dilutes Google’s perceived demand to see that event, because it thinks it’s actually multiple different events. This causes Google to push your page, as a search result, down the results list, to page 3 or 4 perhaps. When we use trailing slashes, this closes those other access points, and funnels all site users in through one proverbial ‘door’ to view the event, which boots Google’s perception of the demand to see the event, and drives your event up the list of search results.
Think of it like restricting access to a hot nightclub. The demand to enter the building seems higher if people line up because they can only get in through one doorway. If there’s multiple entrances, a line never forms and Google never fully understands the demand to get into your hot nightclub or…erm…your event detail page. You get the idea.
Another benefit of eliminating these other URL options is a boost in server performance. WordPress based platforms, like ours, automatically correct URLs to include this trailing slash. This means that every place where WordPress makes that correction, it requires one additional ‘call’ to the server for information. You can see how when there are multiple links on a page, this could end up slowing down page load time, as WordPress churns through processing those link corrections.
This small but genius correction was pointed out to us by an excellent marketing firm called Shepherd Agency, which is helping optimize our rebuild of St. John”s Cultural Council’s existing Network site, HistoricCoastCulture.com. Thanks to this development work initiated by them, the whole network has received a boost to their SEO. The best part about this change is that you don’t have to do a thing – it has already been implemented Network-wide! One more excellent example of the power in sharing technology solutions as a Network.