Following last week’s ‘What is on-site SEO?’ post, we’re going in to more detail about best practices for website folder and URL structure in relation to search engine optimisation.
It is important that your website has the proper domain and sub-domain folder structure. Failure to do this could seriously hinder your site’s search visibility and hence, its ability to reach a wider audience. SEO may not be your forte and if you’re looking to launch a website and hire an SEO agency like Punch, there are a number of things you need to do beforehand to guarantee the best results. Before you launch your website, the folder structure needs to be carefully considered. How the site fits together should be planned by the developers and for those that don’t take it into account, rectifying the mistakes at a later date can be a costly, long-term affair.
In simple terms, a URL structure is an organisation of files, sub-domains and folders within a domain. There should be a top-level folder for each main topic, subfolders within each main-topic folder, and individual pages inside. With regards to SEO, you don’t want your content to be too deep that it is lost within multiple layers of unnecessary subfolders. There is no rulebook for optimal SEO, but one or two subfolders under the main domain is good practice for search engines to effectively crawl and index your web pages. But why does it matter? Well, the more clicks it takes for users to get from the homepage to a desired page, the less important it is deemed by search engines. Furthermore, a long directory path makes for a long URL and studies have shown that users tend to avoid clicking on long URLs from a search results page. Long URLs can also be prone to typos, which can cause broken latest-punch-news.html to your site from others. It is also important to think about the names attributed to your folders and subfolders as this becomes the URL for each page, for example www.domain.com/subfolder/page-name. Each page’s URL should describe the content of that page in the shortest number of characters possible, meaning numbers and random letters are a real no-no. URLs help to explain to search engines what a particular page is about and can be a determining factor in what they display in results for a query. Always separate multiple words with hyphens and keep everything in lower case too. In the past, websites may have had the same content on multiple URLs, such as one page for viewing and one for printing. There is no longer any reason to do this as all major browsers support print stylesheets that you should implement on your page. If you have any old pages that have new equivalents, make sure you forward them using permanent, 301 redirects. By doing this, search engines will automatically move link values from old to new, but we’ll be discussing re-directs in more detail in an upcoming post. With most brands and organisations having an online presence, the internet is hugely competitive and good search visibility can make the difference between a business that is doing ok and one that is booming. Site structure is a key area within on-site search engine optimisation as well as the consumer journey of potential customers. Logically categorising content and applying the right URLs could increase the presence of your site in the results page, and complements other on and off-site activity.