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URL Structure: An Essential Building Block of SEO

An essential building block of SEO comprises the URL structure. However, it is also one component that is often overlooked by marketers.

Every online business lays a lot of emphasis on the website structure and the various aspects involved in its construction. There are many decisions that need to be taken like what the website will be built with, the categories to include in the blogs and more. These decisions play a vital role in determining the future costs that will be involved and the manner in which the business will function. It is during one of these processes that an URL will be created. As the business emerges, there is the need for more information and better analytics. At this stage, your business might hire the service of data analysts and pay agencies to collect the data and present it in a format that can be used by the business to achieve its goals and make crucial business decisions. However, you actually end up wasting a lot of time and resource because your URL’s were not created with the purpose of data gathering in mind. This makes the entire process extremely complicated and tedious at this stage.

Let us take an example to understand why proper structuring of the URL is necessary.

An e-commerce company may approach an agency to gather information about total organic sessions to its product pages. They intend to measure the performance of the pages. This particular company while designing its website took care to ensure that its product was placed at the root of the URL structure. There is logic behind this idea because the products might be in different categories and they wanted to avoid the problem of duplicate content. However, from the perspective of data gathering, this might not be helpful. There is no technique that can be used to separate the product URL’s from other URL that we might have at the root.

To get the data, the analyst will require crawling the pages on the website and figuring them with the help of HTML footprint. After gathering the product URLs, they will need to match the data with Google Analytics. However, this entire process is lengthy.

Besides, you might want to do the analysis on a frequent basis. In that case, the list will always change as there might be new products added or sold. This will require a scheduled scrape or automated report. Both of these processes are complex and time-consuming. This will take quite a bit of time and keep your SEO consultant engaged each week.

However, the entire process could have been simplified by using a single step. Adding all the products into a folder named /products/ transforms this long process into a single simple step.

You will just need to load the landing pages data on Google analytics and apply the filter for /products/.

Yes, it can be this simple!

Uniqueness of URL:

URL is the main piece of information that can help to identify a page. Most analytics services only have access to the URL in most cases. Besides, most of the site analysis involves working with templates and generalising similar page groups. Working with template also makes use of URL.

According to Jeff Bezos, there are the following two types of decisions:

  • Type 1
  • Type 2

Type 1 decisions include those that cannot be reversed and you need to be extra cautious while making them. On the other hand,

Type 2 decision can be experimented with. You always have the option of moving back if you are not satisfied.

In the case of URL structuring, it is a type 1 decision as the process of constantly changing URLs can pose a number of problems. This makes it necessary to be extremely cautious while making the decision.

Ways to Set Up Good URLs:

An effective URL pattern is one that can be easily employed to select a template of URLs with the help of ‘contains’ filter. This implies that there need to be folders as they can be easily located with only the ‘contains’ filter.

The next question arises is where exactly should we include the folders to the URLs. To figure that out, you need to bear the following in mind:

  • Pages that require grouping can be included in the same folder so that they can be identified with the URL.
  • If there exists common grouping, then it should be added to the URL. However, this should be done only if the data groupings are not liable to change.

The following example will add clarity. For an e-commerce website, the apt grouping will be one at a broader level than the specific products. What this implies is, you can include categories like skirts, top, dresses and so on. This form of grouping will help us to measure the performance of each category separately. Moreover, since they are at a broader level, the probability of this changing is also much lower.

Similarly, for articles, the grouping can be done on the basis of the subject of the articles. Example: travel, new or sports. Location grouping can be done with different levels of granularity. The following example reflects various levels of location granularity:

     –  Cars for sale in Victoria – /for-sale/cars/state/Victoria

     –  Cars for sale in Perth – /for-sale/vehicles/city/Perth

     –  Cars for sale in Perth centre – /for-sale/vehicles/area/Perth-centre

     –  Cars for sale on Brisbane road – /for-sale/vehicles/street/Brisbane-road

In this manner, every website might follow its own layering rule. However, you just need to ensure efficient URL structuring for easy data gathering.

May 16, 2017

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