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Theme-based web sites

importance of theme based web sites



5:01 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I stumbled across a post from 2000 about themed-based web sites ranking in google and how to link all the pages together..

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...

Best regards,

Kasie Morgan


12:32 pm on Feb 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks all for participating. I had been waiting for this discussion to pickup. Most seem interested in the google update threads, even I am, but its now time for me to come up with a solution for the lost traffic.

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

Thanks again.


12:35 pm on Feb 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes I'll be keeping all my old files with a 301 redirect, so that any bookmarks will still work.


1:25 pm on Feb 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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:

www.domain.com/cup/demitasse.html, etc

www.domain.com/coffee/instant.html, etc.

www.domain.com/beans/how-to-grind.html, etc.

(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...


3:27 pm on Feb 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How about having all directories as only first level by using URL rewrite?
On the server real directories will not exist. A common file can be used and with help of some URL rewrite software, the directories will display as:

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!


2:47 pm on Feb 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you turn all logical subcategories into top categories then you run the risk of having duplicate names. This has been a problem for me with only a hundred 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


4:38 am on Feb 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>>I believe Brett was talking about link structure here, not as some seem to have assumed directory structure.

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.


5:15 am on Feb 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Found them: Here's tedster's great post series, Part 1 and Part 2:

Information Architecture for the Small Site - Part 1 [webmasterworld.com]

Information Architecture for the Small Site - Part 2 [webmasterworld.com]


4:07 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Those threads were very good. Thanks for the links.


4:23 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thank you all for all of your insight.. greatly appreciated.. i already love this place..lol

Best Regards,

Kasie M.


4:49 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Just my own small test from changing to theming

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


6:59 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>> But is it good for existing sites to go the sub-domains way?

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:

1) domain.com/cats/
2) domain.com/dogs/
3) domain.com/canaries/
4) domain.com/ostriches/
5) domain.com/elephants/
6) domain.com/hippopotalamuses/
7) domain.com/whales/
8) domain.com/sharks/

... 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.)


4:36 am on Feb 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks claus. Yes I have decided to keep content on same site. Within the site some content will have be moved due to depth as you suggested.

"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.


5:16 am on Feb 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Google Sets makes some pretty interesting connections between words, very unexpected at times.
This 28 message thread spans 2 pages: 28

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