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    URL structure / link structure


    For a new website (so everything is still possible) I am determining what the best URL and linking structure is. The domainname looks as follows;

    www. KW1 KW2 xxxx.cc (where KW1 = Keyword 1, KW2 = Keyword 2 and xxxx = is just another extra word, since the other URLs were already occupied).

    The product which is being offered is location-based, therefore most search queries are 90% consisting of: ‘KW1 + KW2 + City’. Product is offered world-wide in many cities. The website to be made is in one language for one country. For 20% of the cities worldwide 90% revenue is generated.

    I was thinking about two options with respect to link structure / URL structure;
    (1) www.mysite.cc/country/city or (2) www.mysite.cc/city
    The product isn’t available on country level, therefore only the city landings pages are important.

    To be indexed by Google a navigation panel has to be added at the bottom so most of the webpages are crawlable and indexable. In case of option one, it would look like this;

    www.mysite.cc/countryA
    www.mysite.com/countryA/cityA
    www.mysite.com/countryA/cityB

    www.mysite.cc/countryB
    www.mysite.cc/countryB/cityC
    www.mysite.cc/countryB/cityD
    www.mysite.cc/countryB/cityE

    Etc. etc.
    This is how competitors are doing it often as wel. In case of option 2, it would look like this;

    www.mysite.cc/countryA
    www.mysite.com/cityA
    www.mysite.com/cityB

    www.mysite.cc/countryB
    www.mysite.cc/cityC
    www.mysite.cc/cityD
    www.mysite.cc/cityE

    Etc. etc.

    So at the webpage of /countryB there is a link to /cityC, /cityD etc.
    In both cases all page’s should be indexed by Google. All advantages and disadvantages as far I can think of and are able to find on the internet are listed here;
    www.mysite.cc/country/city (option 1)
    (+) ‘Deeper’ pages are not seen as ‘bad’ by Google than less deep pages.

    www.mysite.cc/city (option 2)

    (+) Shorter URLs;
    (+) With respect to linkbuilding; people are more likely to link to short and clear URLs;
    (-) Cities with the same name have to be (manually) adjusted.

    Am I missing something? Because option 2 is not the most used option in the industry. My question is, for which one would you choose and why? Which (dis-) advantages have not been named yet?
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    I would use what the users would understand at a glace also considering duplications. mysite.com/london/ would be duplicated a lot of times as there is a city called london in multiple countries. So I would do mysite.com/usa/ohio/london/ and mysite.com/uk/greater-london/london/ breaking them down to regions so you do not end up with too many links on one page (some usa states have over 200 cities so you may consider also breaking the states down to counties). Users will know exactly where they are on the website and in the rankings a user will know what they are about to view.
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    Originally Posted by seomonkeymanocp
    I would use what the users would understand at a glace also considering duplications. mysite.com/london/ would be duplicated a lot of times as there is a city called london in multiple countries. So I would do mysite.com/usa/ohio/london/ and mysite.com/uk/greater-london/london/ breaking them down to regions so you do not end up with too many links on one page (some usa states have over 200 cities so you may consider also breaking the states down to counties). Users will know exactly where they are on the website and in the rankings a user will know what they are about to view.
    Thank you for your shift reply. Although duplicate cities are something to take into account, I am not putting so much value to it. Mainly because 99% (if not 100%) of the revenue for a duplicate city is always coming from the largest and most known city (in your example London UK). People who are searching for renting a bike in London Ohio will most likely be aware that there is a larger city called London too: London UK. Next to that, maybe once in the two years someone will actually search for renting a bike in London Ohio - from a ROI point-of-view it is not worth optimizing for these search queries.

    Therefore I think it is more convenient for a user to read the URL and see that it says: www.rentbikenow.cc/paris than www.rentbikenow.cc/france/paris, because most likely the user already knows that Paris is located in France. Apart from that, you can also specify these things in the breadcrumbs, which will have to look like 'Home > France > Paris' anyway.

    However, would there be other factors why you wouldn't use such short URLs?
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    My concern there is that you would be lessening the potential long tail. Sure there might only be say 10 visits per year for each of these same named cities but if you think there are 500k cities in the world imagine ranking 1st for bike hiring in london in google.com (and all other locations) which goes to the correct london (ohio page) then people searching the same in london UK would also go to the right page and convert better. Could mean 5 million visits a year instead of perhaps a million from the major cities worldwide. I think that by putting in the effort now it could help you in the long term. But hey, I am just saying this from my experience, in the end it is your decision. I would just emphasise that do not, not do it, purely for the fact that it would be a lot of work.
    Last edited by seomonkeymanocp; Dec 13th, 2012 at 12:17 PM.
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    1/1.html
    1/2.html

    ...and so on will work just as good because "the laws of diminishing returns apply".

    Yes keyword in URL is a factor but let's say you need 100% to rank... and in a ball field of nothing but URLs an arrangement of keyword URL is equal to 100% thus that architecture will make a big difference... but that isn't your environment.

    Your environment is an architecture of link anchors backed by link juice and those compared to the URL reference is worth 99.99% making the value you get from the url so small it cannot possible get you to move up a single position.

    You can test this down at position #900 to #999 and see that it works but you'll never get anything meaningful down there thus any test results are moot for practical application.

    Page 1 or Page 2 results competes almost entirely on link anchor and passed link juice with some help by title elements... wasting thought on URL names is just wasted energy.
    Last edited by fathom; Dec 13th, 2012 at 05:10 PM.
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    It is absolutely true that the difference of how you structure your URL in this case in itself is not really that important for pure SEO technical reasons. In my case it would require some extra work for duplicate cities in case of option 2. Therefore it would boil down to the value/effort of fixing the duplicate cities content (5% of the total cities) versus the value of having short URLs and its additional effects (easier linking etc.).
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    Fathom I think Jurjen is asking about this more for the structure of the site to make life easier rather then to help boost seo etc.

    Think on those lines, I would personally structure the site like this:
    County
    > Region (when needed/applicable)
    > Town
    So your url structure would be domain.com/uk/south-east/london

    The reason behind this is because people searching to rent a bike in xyz town may want to rent bikes in other surrounding areas, so if you structure your site to zoom in/out of where their main search area is, you will have a much better structure for the user.

    Think of it this way, most people looking to hire a bike are on holiday or a weekend away correct? (this the only time I might want to hire a bike), so they may not want to stay in one area and so having the option to easily look at other surrounding areas just by going up and down a single category would be great from a user point of view!

    I personally think this folder structure works very well in most cases, so as said above, don't opt for the easy option! Pick the best option which will work best not just for your site, but for your visitors/users!
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    There is one important distinction which you should take into account: URL structure is not the same as site structure. Although in 95% of the cases (of SEO optimized websites) the URL structure follows the site structure, I am questioning this practice.

    The site structure indeed has to follow a logical flow, such as country --> city --> specific-area. By using breadcrumbs and a 'nearby places'-list or a 'top places'-list on-page a user should be able to quickly check where he/she is on the website.

    However, why should the URL structure follow this as well? Consider that 99.99% of the users will search for 'rent a bike london' they actually mean they want to rent a bike in London UK. Your landings-page will have the URL www.rentbikenow.cc/london, which does not contain any 'noise' in the URL such as 'south-east' etc. Simple and short URLs which are easy for the user. Remember that on-page the breadcrumbs are like 'United Kingdom > London > area', however, the underlying URLs are 'rentbikenow.cc/united-kingdom > rentbikenow.cc/london > rentbikenow.cc/area'.

    Lets consider 'the longtail' customer; someone searches with the search query 'rent a bike london canada'. The user is aware there is a 'bigger' London out there (and if he wasn't, after the first search query he probably was). Lets say he gets on my landingspage of London, Canada. The URL would look like this (I have to manually adjust this in order to make such a URL): www.rentbikenow/london-canada. If the webpage is optimized, a user will directly see he is at the right place; London, Canada.

    The thing is, users should not be taking their navigation from the URL in the first place. If they should, then your page is probably not correctly optimized. Given that the user does not need to use the URL as a navigation tool, the question raises, why does a URL structure have to follow the site structure? Although I am aware that it is common practice for most websites, I have not heard any real disadvantages for using the option 2-like URLs.

    I am not questioning the 'common' practice in itself (that URL structure should follow site-structure), I am only considering what would be the disadvantage of using shorter and much simpler URLs as with option 2.
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    Originally Posted by Jurjen
    Given that the user does not need to use the URL as a navigation tool
    I generally use the url bar to take me back sections simply because I'm a lazy bugger and can't be bothered to look for a link half the time lol, but yes your right, most users will look for bread crums and as long as you have those going back to the right category/section, I don't see a big problem in using /london-canada apart from...

    The Google bot may have problems finding pages on your site if you do happen to miss something out because it will see all your pages as being at the same level? I have never done what your asking before, so I can't say for sure as we have always had all client sites (and my personal sites etc) done as mentioned above /country/location but then again all the sites I have worked with have either been just UK based or had separate domains for different countries.

    Your other option would be to use sub-domains for the different countries? usa.domain.com/london-canada uk.domain.com/london

    I think that might be easier, because you might want to do a slightly different url for the UK as to what you would for the US as the US has many more place with the same name then the UK. For example uk.domain.com/london would be fine for the UK as we only have one London, but in the US you might want usa.domain.com/london-canada, usa.domain.com/london-ohio and so on.

    Then when you look at it that way, you could still do all that on the main domain instead of sub-domains:
    domain.com/uk/london
    domain.com/usa/london-canada
    domain.com/usa/london-ohio

    That's how I would do it, I know that you seem to have your heart set on changing your urls to just /london-canada etc, but I really don't see the need to drop the country from the url?

    So for the uber long post, I kept getting different ideas in my head and that's why its a little all over the place, its Monday, the old brain don't work so well lol
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    Originally Posted by NathanielB

    The Google bot may have problems finding pages on your site if you do happen to miss something out because it will see all your pages as being at the same level?
    That's a good question and something which I've been wondering about as well. Anyone has experience with this?


    As with the subdomain option, I am not really fond of it. In addition, Google does not seem to give any additional benefit to sub domains anymore according to this post: http://www.brafton.com/news/subdomai...omains-anymore.


    Originally Posted by NathanielB

    That's how I would do it, I know that you seem to have your heart set on changing your urls to just /london-canada etc, but I really don't see the need to drop the country from the url?
    Hehe, I have not decided yet what I'll do (note, I don't have to 'change' my URLs, it's a brand-new website, therefore I still have to choose between options). I seem to be a bit stubborn, but that's sometimes necessary when 'common' practice is questioned - people will actually start to think about it once you keep arguing/questioning the common practice, it just takes a little longer.

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