Does the structure of your site’s URLs affect search engines?
Does the structure of your site’s URLs affect search engines?
February 10, 2019
A common SEO question answered (again)

Question:

Does the structure of your site’s URLs affect search engines?

Short Answer:

Probably not, unless it does.


 

hiding

Long Answer:

URLs are addresses: pointers to files and similar resources. The way you structure your URLs reflects how you organize your folders and files. Windows or OSX doesn't care where you store your files: it's up to you to figure out the best resource layout for your needs.  Similarly, search engines don’t care how you structure your URLs. Your logical organization can be as convoluted as you or your CMS wants it to be -- or, conversely, it can be as simple and succinct as you need it.

The Google spider -- the bot that scans your website -- doesn’t mind where your content is, as long as it can find it. Whether you reference your latest blog post using mysite.com/blog/march/24/2019/marketing/product/review/how-i-use-salesforce-to-get-more-clicks.html ... or mysite.com/13a2, does not influence the page rank of that (hopefully awesome) post.

As long as the engine's algorithms can get to your content by crawling through your site structure -- either through the sitemap or using internal links, such as the menu system -- then the syntax of the URL that makes up its address won’t make a dent on its content's ranking.

That being said, you still need to ensure that your site does not set up mazes and traps. In order to ensure that your content is accessible to the visiting search engine, you need to make sure that

  1. The content is referenced higher in the hierarchy using an internal link, and
  2. You have enough allocated crawl budget to allow the engine to reach the target content’s page.

Do you know who cares about your URL structure? People do!

People like your visitors, your readers and yes, you.

Your URL structure has to make sense. It needs to represent a logical ordering that can somehow be understood and referenced not only by the users but also by you. How does that work?

Let’s assume for a moment that you are planning to move. What do you do to make that transition easier? You put all your valuables in boxes, and you use a market to tag those boxes in a way that will be useful to you once you reach your destination and unpack.

Those moving boxes are the components of your URLs. You would never think of putting every individual item in a separate box, then mixing those small boxes before storing them in a slightly bigger box, and so on. The same way you would probably not waste your time marking each box with gibberish, nonsensical “titles”. You wouldn’t think of placing everything you own in a single box and mark that box “home” either, would you? You want to make your life easier, not harder.

 

lifeeasier

Like your moving boxes, your URLs should

  1. represent an order that is both relevant and related to the way the site should be visited or read, and
  2. make sense.

Too much, like too little, is not enough. What you need is to get it right.

Again, search engines don’t care. Crawling scripts cannot read or understand language, except in a very superficial way. They travel blind: their only purpose is to find, unpack and index content. That content is retrieved at the end of your URLs. As far as Google and other search engines are concerned, the only possible side-effect of a bloated or nonsensical URL structure is confusing. If your site’s URL structure is too complex, you may end up forgetting to reference your content properly, effectively hiding it from the search engine.

As a general rule, the more jumps and hoops a search engine crawler has to go through to get to a particular piece of content, the more it will charge you to index it. Go easy on over- or under-optimizing your URL structure. The simple truth is this: If you want to be found, don’t hide. If you want your content to be found, don’t hide it.

SEO Dog

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