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5 years later I am wondering if google puts more emphases on themed web sites or just a page by page basis.. I know the importance of page rank and incoming links, but the overall site...
Themes I think is the best way in the long term. But it needs to be implemented correctly. After reading Marcia's comments I have decided to keep the levels as less as possible.
One more question, which Brett probably did not clear in his theme thread. How should the home page be used in a themed site? Right now we have links to all the top categories and then a list of latest articles. So which is better of
1. links to latest articles
2. links to few selected sub categories
A: Cup -> Coffee -> Beans -> Brazil -> Farming.
I believe Brett was talking about link structure here, not as some seem to have assumed directory structure.
These are not the same thing. For example all the above categories could be at the same directory level - links do not have to follow directory structure. After all, how many users actually look closely at the page url?
I'm not suggesting everything should be at one directory level, but just to demonstrate the point you could have:
(Or if you want to preserve keywords you could have www.domain.com/coffee-beans/ and www.domain.com/coffee-farming/, etc.)
The link structure is imposed on the above by the indexes. To add a new category you just change an index, for example, to add Cup -> Tea -> India
To a user the above link structure is themed. However, whether a link structure which is different to a directory structure loses the benefits (if any) of a themed site in serps rankings, I have no idea...
Linking can be animals -> pets -> dogs -> dog-health -> dog-medication
and animals -> pets -> cats -> cat-health -> cat-medication
Later on if a change in structure/theme/linking is required, like adding pet-health because dogs and cats are not working, a new category domain.com/pet-health can be added. Links will then change to:
animals -> pets -> pet-health -> dog-health -> dog-medication
animals -> pets -> pet-health -> cat-health -> cat-medication
The site gets independent of the directory structure this way and can change links/theme later if required. For user it will be easier to type any URL if most are first level. They might get habitual to this and start typing any keyword .. almost like search! For people who want to link to the site, a simple url is always good. In SERPs a first level directory highlights the importance your site is giving to that term, savvy people like us do take a look at url if it is simple and when it exactly matches our search term.
Of course where applicable a 2nd/3rd level sub directory will be used when it perfectly fits. E.g.
Overall everything (directory wise) will stay within 3 levels however big the site is. Linking may go deeper, but its always in your control and you can change it as your content grows (also as your knowledge of SEO evolves).
Only thing is search engines might frown how you can have say 3,000 first level directories!
You'd almost have to rewrite with dashes.
Base URL > Big Widgets > Blue
Base URL > Small Widgets > Blue
Because you can't have multiple "Blue" categories, you'd have to go with
Base URL > Big-Blue-Widgets
Base URL > Small-Blue-Widgets
Links (and anchor text) have a lot to do with establishing a theme; not only within the site, but inbound and outbound links (and their source and destination) as well. Regardless of whether a certain "system" is being considered in a current algo, if something is possible it should be noted for reference, because anything that can be considered may be sooner or later.
The relation between link structure and directory organization can affect ease of maintenance for a site and how user friendly the navigation is, though one doesn't necessarily depend on the other. The point made about duplications is a good one, and another point to consider is the percentage of anchor text that will be identical.
tedster did a couple of magnificent posts a while back about navigation / Information Architecture. If anyone can find or remember where those posts are, this would be a good place to link to them. Utilizing the card system he recommended (or something similar) is an incredibly handy and useful way to lay out a site's navigation in the forumative stages.
Information Architecture for the Small Site - Part 1 [webmasterworld.com]
Information Architecture for the Small Site - Part 2 [webmasterworld.com]
My main site has multiple themes which could be considered non related
in August last year after much thinking and reading I decided to create new sites for each theme with different content to the old site but still related
Little or no SEO on new site
After 6 months the results are showing it was most definately the right decision as in 75% of cases on a new ( 6 month old site it is ) outperforming the 5 yr old site on same keywords and traffic is peaking at 4,000 visitors per day
One other interesting fact is when doing some searching I came across a beta product of G seach based around theming i.e. auto realty education travell etc. etc. so I suspect if G is not using yet in anger will start to somehow create a theming scheme in the background which will start to influence serps to a greater extent at a later date
just my own 2 cents worth
and one thing is for sure SE's do make our brains continue to tick and work
Jalinder, at this moment in time you will do best by keeping your existing well indexed content where it is. I'd advice against moving it to subdomains. There's a high risk that you will harm yourself doing so.
The best time to make this decision is when planning the site, not when it's up and running successfully. If it's doing okay, then keep it that way.
If you want to try out subdomains, do it with completely new content in stead. There's no law that says that you can't rank well without using subdomains, ie. some do fine with them, and others do fine without them.
Another thing you might want to consider is this:
Are your level 2 categories broad or narrow? Ie. do you have a very large number at level two like this:
... or a smaller number, like this:
a) domain.com/animals-you-can-play-with/ (sub: 1+2 above)
b) domain.com/animals-with-feathers/ (sub: 3+4 above)
c) domain.com/heavy-walking-animals/ (sub: 5+6 above)
d) domain.com/animals-that-swim/ (sub: 7+8 above)
Normally, the latter model is best but it can give deep paths. If this is really a problem to you (and i don't think it's really a problem, as you say that everything is indexed fine) you might be able to get a better structure by relocating your content so that some of your really deep levels move one or more levels up, like in the first example.
At this moment it is less risky to move content around on your existing domain than to move it to a new (sub)domain. It's still risky, though, only it's not as risky as starting new domains (afaik, fwiw, imho, ymmv, etc.)
"a beta product of G seach based around theming i.e. auto realty education travell etc."
>> steveb, if it is anything other than Google Site-Flavored please send me the link.