What is the Best URL Structure for SEO?
The best URL structure for SEO is the one that lets search engines and humans alike navigate through your website with ease via a hierarchal system of pages and blog posts. The URL structure is extremely important for SEO as it will dictate how Google crawls your website and it lays the groundwork for crucial internal links. Some SEO Gurus have called this process a “Silo”, or “Siloing a website”.
How to Structure your Website for SEO:
Basic Silo Website Structure
If you are a building a website and anticipate driving traffic to it through organic traffic, having the website structured properly is extremely important. Here is a super basic Silo structure for a 3-tier website (the three tiers are the Main Money Page>Subordinate Money Page>Blog). Depending on how large or small your website is, you may go much deeper and wider, but the process is the same.
If you are an SEO agency and coming behind another website developer who has already built out a basic structure, it is recommended that this is done on a staging server. Upon pushing the new website live, you will want to implement 301 redirects for all of the URL changes,
Website Structure for Real Estate
For explaining the best URL structure for SEO, we will use a real estate website as an example. Using the real estate vertical to explain how the pages and blog posts should be connected is natural. Everyone understands what a city is — everyone knows that a subdivision should be under that and that individual home listings would fall under the subdivisions.
*On a side note* Real estate SEO is also an extremely difficult vertical for search engine optimization, as not only is much of page one of Google made up by huge sites such as Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com — but every single real estate agent usually has a competing website too. And don’t forget about the large franchises, such as Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Keller Williams, and others! And as if it weren’t already difficult enough, the majority of real estate websites all have the same exact listing content – a big downer for Google!
It’s important to start with the basics when designing your URL structure for your website. First, we will cover a basic structure for the PAGES, then we will move into BLOGS. If you plan on any type of Content Marketing and creating your own original content for your site, you need to work the blogs into the Silo structure too.
The URL Structure for Pages
The basics of how to set up your website’s URL structure starts by laying out a hierarchy of the pages and blogs. Your homepage should explain your value proposition. It is expected that all pages won’t fall into a Silo. Pages that don’t necessarily need to be included are the pages that come directly after the domain, such as the About Page, Terms & Conditions and the Contact Page.
If you are building a Silo for “homes for sale” searches, you would start with the Search Page. It comes directly after the domain and would look like this:
Next, you would lay out the city pages. So the URL structure would look like this:
Next, you would want to include the major or relevant subdivisions in the respective city. That URL structure would look something like this:
Looking at the above examples, you can see that the hierarchal system of URLs makes sense and becomes more granular the deeper you go. To create the above Parent>Child page relationship, when creating the Child page, you simply choose the Parent page under Page Attribution on the right side of your WordPress page builder.
In the illustration below, we are creating a Subdivision Page under the City Page.
Using Blogs Properly in a Siloed Website
To leverage your blog content into your website’s URL structure, you first need to make some adjustments to how WordPress sees Categories and Pages. Without this little tip, you generally can not have a blog category have the identical URL structure as your pages — if you tried, it would show up with a -2 after the URL.
You can get around that by having your Money Pages also used as blog categories, allowing you to continue building out your Silo structure with blog posts. Once the pages have been created as mentioned above, you will create a Category using the exact same name. This will let you choose the Subdivision Pages as a Blog Category – letting the blog fall in line with the structure like this:
Before creating the Category with the exact same name, you need to make some changes to WordPress.
Changes to WordPress to Allow Categories as Pages
Log into your WordPress backend. Go to Settings then Permalinks
You will then want to ensure that you set up your Permalinks exactly as follows:
Check the Custom Structure option. Then click the %category% button then the %postname% button.
Under Category Base, you MUST put a period “.” — do not use the quotations – it should look exactly like below.
Lastly – Hit Save.
Creating Pages as WordPress Categories
When you create the Page in WordPress, any blogs that fall “under” that page will properly go in the URL structure. In the example below, we will look at creating a city called Metairie with a subdivision called Lakeview.
For those of you that live in New Orleans…we know that Lakeview is not Metairie. Just an example
After we are done, if we write a blog post about Lakeview, it will follow the URL structure to its parent PAGE – the Lakeview Money Page.
We will first create the Page and name it Lakeview. We will then we will choose the Parent Page to be the City – Metairie Homes for Sale.
Now We Create the Category with the Same Name
The next step is to create an identical category, using the same name and URL. If you did not have your Permalinks set exactly as shown (with the period) WordPress will force the URL to have a “-2” at the end of it. Needless to say, that doesn’t work in a properly Siloed website.
Now when you create a new blog post, you can choose Lakeview as the Category – and it will fall directly in line with your properly Siloed website.
Adding Content To Your Website
Now that you have the idea on how to create the Parent>Child relationships and have created the exact same Categories as the pages, you can add your content. If you are blogging about a specific city, you will choose the respective city when posting your blog. If you are writing about a subdivision, choose the subdivision.
Internal Linking is Super Important
Although we are really showing the process for Siloing a website and not discussing the advantages of it – I would be remiss if I didn’t explain how the internal links between the root domain, the Parent Page, the Child Page, and the Blog are super important!
These “internal links” are extremely important for on-page SEO and should be natural and use the main keywords for the respective pages. This should be easy since each subordinate page should be elaborating on a small section of its parent page.
The links should go both ways!
Don’t just link (in our above example) from the City Page to the Subdivision Page — but back from the Subdivision Page to the City Page. The blogs in that Silo should easily and naturally link to their parent page.
SEO is extremely competitive by nature. Even the least competitive industries have thousands of pages fighting for the top positions. Creating an SEO friendly URL structure is a basic necessity and should be implemented early in any SEO campaign. When choosing an SEO company, one question that you should ask is how they will structure your website!