Whats the best URL structure for blogs?

Keynotes

  • There really is no “best” way to structure your URls for blog posts, however logical site structure and tracking should be taken into account
  • Avoid dumping blog posts directly off the root
  • Site structure isn’t just about SEO, its about user experience, and site management as well

Transcription

John C:                  Okay. I wanted to have a little chat about something that we’re just addressing at the moment with a current client, don’t mind sharing the client’s name…..so they’ve got a pretty extensive history of writing blogs and they do a lot of content, which is great. What we were looking at, there was a couple of things I wanted to look at with you, and a lot of the conversations we have are around bouncing what we think is best practice and that being domain, blog, ideally the category, and then the title of the actual blog. Don’t you agree that I mean, one, that’s the ideal structure? More importantly, when you inherit a website, how much value do you think there is in breaking the existing URL structure and making it that format?

John R:                  Just let me get this straight. We’re just talking about blogs, right?

John C:                  Correct.

John R:                  You’re talking about the best way to structure your URLs for search, so just blogs?

John C:                  It’s just blogs, yeah.

John R:                  Okay. All right.

John C:                  Couple of things I was going to throw at you today on blogs and that was the first one.

John R:                  Yeah. The first thing that comes to mind there, and this is just a habit that I’ve gotten into, John, I always hang everything off /blog and then… I mean talking about WordPress, I’m assuming, yes?

John C:                  Yes, that’s right.

John R:                  I mean you can use this structure on any platform, doesn’t necessarily need to be WordPress, but I’ve gotten into the habit of hanging everything off /blog. I do that to simplify tracking so that when you set up a custom dashboard within Analytics or you use Data Studio, I mean both the same thing at the end of the day, you can set tracking at the page level if you’re following what I do or following the same sort of process to track and measure conversions. You can set up tracking within Analytics at page path level one, right? You can track conversions at page path level one. You can actually go deep. You can actually go page path level one, two, three, four, I think you can go about four levels deep. Not that you probably would.

John R:                  Look, I don’t make claim to coming up with this. This is something that I read I think on Moz about, I don’t know, eight or nine years ago. At that time, I was using categories so I would categorise all of my content and have /redwidgets and then the blog and then /bluewidgets and then the blog. I thought that seems… The forward slash blog and just having everything hang off the blog seems so much easier. Once I tied that in with tracking conversions, I thought, fuck, no brainer.

John R:                  I don’t bother with any other structure apart from just /blog for that reason alone so that I can look within Analytics and say, “Okay. These blog posts are actually doing something. We’re getting customer inquiries, we’re getting phone calls.” Those inquiries or those conversions, that’s resulting in money in the bank.

John C:                  That’s about tracking and obviously doing it page level by Analytics, there’s a lot of merit to that. I just wonder, and I suppose this leads into my next point, creating categories. One, it makes it easier for, I suppose, your blog itself to have subcategories that you can just tag your individual blogs to, so you don’t have a massive 200 pieces of content. User experience is better if it’s about bath tubs.

John R:                  Yeah, yeah.

John C:                  Your 10 blogs about bath tubs.

John R:                  No, you could certainly do that. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to doing it. Look, I think if you’re working with a big brand and they’ve got thousands and thousands of blog posts, then that categorising might be a viable option. Look, you can certainly track and measure using categories. I’m not saying that you can’t. For the majority of my clients, the small to medium size businesses who might have a few hundred blog posts, I just shove it all in under /blog. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really make too much difference.

John C:                  Yeah.

John R:                  That’s the only reason I do it, John, is just to simplify tracking. It’s ease of management as well, but I understand exactly what you’re saying. The last thing a user wants to do is to dig through 1200 blog posts and try and figure out where the fuck something is. They can just go, “Okay, it’s in this category for bath tubs.” Click and they get all of the content that’s relevant for that category.

John C:                  Yeah. Yeah. That’s exactly the purpose of it. The other thing too is now currently they have a lot of blogs that it’s their domain /title of the blog post. Yeah?

John R:                  Hanging directly off the root?

John C:                  Correct, which…..

John R:                  Yeah.

John C:                  I mean link equity, going through your main home page through to your main….

John R:                  Yeah, I don’t buy it.

John C:                  I don’t like it. Yeah.

John R:                  I don’t buy it. I’m not a… I think the closer to the root domain, the better it’s going to perform, I don’t buy that at all. For me, it doesn’t make sense. How do you track and measure that?

John C:                  Plus it also impacts site hierarchy. If you look at things like… I mean one of the things I  shared this with you, I don’t know if you know of MetaForensics.io? It’s a free-

John R:                  I’m not sure.

John C:                  The reason why I use it, it has a really nice visualisation piece, which shows you the root domain and all the sub-pages off it and then …

John R:                  Okay.

John C:                  It creates a really nice hierarchy….

John R:                  Yeah, yeah. Look, it could be OCD for me, John, but I like shit to be fucking neat and tidy. In the training, I use the filing cabinet analogy where the filing cabinet itself is the website. Then, your categories might be the drawers. In those categories, you have certain folders for certain things. To think about it that way, dumping the content directly off the root would be just like opening a drawer, grabbing a shit load of A4 fucking paper, no folders, and just shoving it in there and closing the drawer.

John C:                  Yeah, I’m with you.

John R:                  Maybe it’s an OCD thing. I’m very, very particular about that, not just for SEO, not just from an SEO point of view, but also site management. I want to be able to log into a site and be able to see where the fuck I am and be able to move around and make changes, update the site, maintain the site. If I log into a client site and I can’t make sense of it, it’s confusing, then there’s no way a fucking client’s going to be able to make any sense of. I’ve found, John, that when you do categorise and you sort everything out, the conversations I’ve had with clients, they’re always so thankful for that. Oh fuck, it makes so much sense now, John, and everything seems to be well organised.

John C:                  Yeah.

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