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Use a Shallow Directory Structure for Better Search Engine Results

When building a directory structure for your Web site, it’s important to not go too deep — this ensures that search engines can spider your site more easily and that users will find your site more accessible. The directory structure refers to where your files physically exist within the folders on the site. For example, take a look at the following URL of a Web page. The full address identifies the directory where the page physically resides:

http://www.customclassics.com/ford/mustangs/index.html

The URL lets you know where the page is. Notice that there are only two subdirectories under the main domain. Having too many levels of subdirectories does the following:

  • The farther the file is from the root directory, the less important it seems to the search engines.

  • Long directory paths make long URLs, and studies have proven that users avoid clicking long URLs on a search results page.

  • Long URLs are more apt to cause problems because users could make mistakes typing in your URL.

Therefore, don’t get category-happy — you should go no more than two directories deep.

For example, a classic car Web site may only have one main category (the car’s make) and two subcategories (model and year). If you have enough content to support multiple sublevels (a minimum of five pages for each category), you could set up the directory structure with two levels. The top level folders would be labeled with the make; the subfolders would be named by the model. Each page within the subfolder could represent a particular year. So the directory structure would look something like this:

http://www.customclassics.com/ford/delrio/1957.html
http://www.customclassics.com/ford/fairlane/1958.html
http://www.customclassics.com/ford/mustang/1965.html

Note how shallow the directory structure is.

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