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Trying to figure out which way to layout the URLs in a new Website. 

I've done sites where sub sections aren't under their parent section and I've done some where they are. I've not see a benefit to either.

 

Suggestions?

 

my-website.com/subpage

or

my-website.com/parent-page/subpage

 

Thoughts?

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There is a huge benefit from information architecture combined with structure from a user experience and search engine perspective, you might not have seen this depending on the size of websites you've worked on. It's not just the url as such, sometimes it's not possible for technical reasons to perfectly stack them but thanks to breadcrumbs you can shape a structure.

What you should be looking for is parent and child relationships and encouraging them with logical urls and supporting breadcrumbs. So for example; 

Home > Restaurants
adomain.com/restaurants/

Home > Restaurants > Surrey
adomain.com/restaurants/surrey/

Home > Restaurants > Surrey > Epsom
adomain.com/restaurants/surrey/epsom/

This set up would be very clear for both visitors and search engines alike. From the "Restaurants in Epsom" page it internally links to its parent "Restaurants in Surrey", and that page then links to its parent "Restaurants in the UK". You also might have adomain.com/restaurants/surrey/dorking/ which does also votes via the breadcrumbs.

Where this method really comes into its own is when it comes time that you want to make a page for "Restaurants in Guildford", when you add the new page under Surrey it will gain the benefit of the established parent pages, gaining the strength of "Restaurant" and "Surrey" leaving only the term "Guildford" as new. It doesn't take long for these pages to scoot right up the rankings however don't drill down to the point of thin content, divide as much as required into logical content groups.

Just my 2 pence as always ;) 

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I always go for logical URL paths when possible, so in @BrowserBugs example /restaurants/surrey/epsom would be an ideal scenario.

On the other hand sometimes your data structure might not makes those URL' s easy to construct. For example if my locations aren't just restaurants but area also bars and hotels as well then you could have

/restaurants/surrey/epsom
/bars/surrey/epsom
/hotels/surrey/epsom

...but that could lead to having a lot of duplicated content about Epsom! That's not necessarily a bad thing because your visitors can still get the the info they want, but a good case for using the canonical to tell search engines which page is the primary one.

Alternatively for this sort of scenario you could go generic and do something like:

/locations/surrey/epsom

There's no right or wrong here but whatever you do I'd say visitors being able to easily find the info they want is more important than URL structure.

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Spot on @BlueDreamer ... horses for courses, usually depends if the "thing" is mightier than the "location". This is where a url might not actually reflect the structure which is where breadcrumbs come into their own.

Home > Surrey > Epsom > Restaurants
adomain.com/restaurants/surrey/epsom/

Home > Surrey > Epsom > Hotels
adomain.com/hotels/surrey/epsom/

The breadcrumbs would still produce the desired architecture with all restaurants vouching they are in Epsom in Surrey. Same can be done for the actual establishments.

Home > Surrey > Epsom > Restaurants > Big Bobs Burgers
adomain.com/profiles/big-bobs-burgers/

:) 

Edit: Would say from a visitor point of view it would be clearer if they landed on the Restaurants in Epsom page. Logic would say they click one level up for All restaurants in Surrey, two levels up for all the restaurants on the site. Flip side, if it was more a market for things to do in Epsom then your location example would be a better fit. Love this industry, no set way to do anything it's what works best in each situation. :) 

Edited by BrowserBugs

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The search engines don't care what URL structure you use. It's your internal linking that matters not how you structure things.

And breadcrumbs only work if you follow the defined path.

If I've searched the site for child friendly vegan restaurants in surrey and choose one to look at your:

Home > Surrey > Epsom > Restaurants

breadcrumbs make no sense. I'd want to see:

Home > Vegan > Child Friendly > Surrey

So you need to consider what type of breadcrumbs you use:

  1. Location Based
  2. Path Based
  3. Attribute Based

Or keep it simple and don't use breadcrumbs. That way you don't need to worry about the URL structure.

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Thanks everyone. This is for a general contractor site. So for example:

 

generalcontractorsite.com/portfolio/kitchen-renovations

vs

generalcontractorsite.com/kitchen-renovations

 

I've opted for the 2nd version. Any reason why I should do the first?

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This depends on the content, think of the structure like a file tree, where would the content correctly sit? If the content found at /portfolio is a list of all the portfolio categories / "all portfolios" list and the kitchen renovations acts like a filter / section showcasing kitchen renovations then I would use nesting like  /portfolio/kitchen-renovations, /portfolio/bathrooms etc.

Using everything at root level is messy. Simply put its the difference between grabbing all your post and chucking it in a box vs putting them in folders, one marked statements, one bills etc. Inside the statements you might need another folder to separate statements by account to manage them. Now you want to find the personal account statement for April 2016 which system would you rather use to look for? People are used to My Pictures > Spain 2016, it's comfortable.

19 hours ago, fisicx said:

The search engines don't care what URL structure you use. It's your internal linking that matters not how you structure things.

And breadcrumbs only work if you follow the defined path.

...

Or keep it simple and don't use breadcrumbs. That way you don't need to worry about the URL structure.

I have to disagree mate, and these points conflict, if internal linking matters then why keep it simple and not use breadcrumbs? It's relevant internal linking in its purest form! I agree URL structure is the lesser of the two, but it helps search engines build blueprints to a website.

Edit: Forgot to say also breadcrumbs and nesting work better in search results, like;

No crumbs;

Kitchen Renovations | Company Name
company.com/portfolio/kitchen-renovations

With crumbs;

Kitchen Renovations | Company Name
company.com > Portfolio

The searcher can see that "kitchen renovations" is just part of this companies "portfolio", wonder what else they might do?

Edited by BrowserBugs

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The answer (as it always is) will be to test, test and test again.

If you are using a CMS and categorise each page then the url structure is sorted already. It’s then just a matter of deciding if you want breadcrumbs or not.

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Yea so testing will be key. Thanks for all the insights.

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In which case the URL structure almost irrelevant. Pages can have multiple categories and the URL will reflect how the visitor navigated to that page.

You are over thinking things. Until the site goes live you won't know what click trails work best. When you have some stats you can adjust the categorization and from there the URL structure. And even that can be customised using the permalink structure.

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@fisicx all good suggestions. I just want to try and avoid all those redirects later on.

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Dude you are wrong. When the spider from the search engines pick up the links then you change them. There will be 404's. Permalinks are Permanent or should be thought as such once your site goes live. If you want to change them you use 301 redirects.

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Wordpress does this for you. You don’t need to set up redirects.

I did some testing on this a while back and the links still worked after changing the permalink structure.

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Sometimes with this kind of setup you might also have query strings if there are a large number of establishments that you want to allow users to filter, search for etc.

it could look something like
`/establishments?location=surrey&type=restaurant&orderBy=rating`

If you had many locations with many types of establishments with different sorting options the number of combinations becomes very large so query strings would be more sensible.  You can always go half way like this:

`/establishments/surrey?type=restaurant&orderBy=rating`

It all depends on the context and what you are trying to achieve.

Edited by rbrtsmith

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@fisicx First I've heard of it. Not doubting you, just haven't heard that before.

Edited by Seth
added mention to Fisicx

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3 hours ago, rbrtsmith said:

Sometimes with this kind of setup you might also have query strings if there are a large number of establishments that you want to allow users to filter, search for etc.

it could look something like
`/establishments?location=surrey&type=restaurant&orderBy=rating`

If you had many locations with many types of establishments with different sorting options the number of combinations becomes very large so query strings would be more sensible.  You can always go half way like this:

`/establishments/surrey?type=restaurant&orderBy=rating`

It all depends on the context and what you are trying to achieve.

Just to follow on if using parameters be careful how much you let the search engines index / crawl. It's best to always use the same order and validate the final url, e.g. if using ?type=restaurant&orderby=rating don't start then using ?orderby=rating&type=restaurant. It can get out of hand very quickly, I've seen some horrific issues around this first hand. Currently working on an experiment with this testing blocking vs canonical (with a hint of noindex). Send me a PM if you want a link, still a WIP but the basics are in place.

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On 12/24/2018 at 1:30 PM, Seth said:

@fisicx First I've heard of it. Not doubting you, just haven't heard that before.

When you set your permalinks it doesn't change the page location, it just changes how the URL is structured.

For example, in this link the page title is the first URL level but when you land on the page the permalinks add in the parent page:

https://loanpaymentplugin.com/using-gutenberg/

Even if you change to the post number you still end up on the permalink:

https://loanpaymentplugin.com/?post=1184

So let WordPress sort it all out for you rather than try to outsmart the search engines.

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