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The best URL structure for a site with lots of different categories?

     
2:19 am on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I was hoping to get some help. We are starting a new site which is going to have different categories and I'm trying to work out what the best URL structure to do is.

My confusion also comes because there will be the same type of product in different categories, for example toothpastes.

Let's say on this site we sell both skin care and oral care products. Would one of these be a better way to have our URLs?

Skin Care Products
Antioxidant Serum Kit
example.com/skin-care/antioxidant-serum-kit.html (generic)
example.com/skin-care-serums/antioxidant-serum-kit.html (more specific)
example.com/skin-care/serums/antioxidant-serum-kit.html (added folder)

Teeth Whitening Products
Whiter Teeth Toothpaste
example.com/teeth-whitening/whiter-teeth-toothpaste.html (generic)
example.com/teeth-whitening-toothpastes/whiter-teeth-toothpaste.html (more specific)
example.com/teeth-whitening/toothpastes/whiter-teeth-toothpaste.html (added folder)

Oral Care Products
All Natural Toothpaste
example.com/oral-care/all-natural-toothpaste.html (generic)
example.com/oral-care-toothpastes/all-natural-toothpaste.html (more specific)
example.com/oral-care/toothpastes/all-natural-toothpaste.html (added folder)

Any advice would be most appreciated.
4:09 am on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've always been inclined to do things like:
example.com/oral-care/toothpastes/
example.com/oral-care/mouthwash/
example.com/oral-care/breath-fresheners/

Individual pages will fill the need for specific subject information in each category. The page content will probably have a much greater impact than options in URL structure. If a /toothpastes/ category is similar to a grocery shelf it probably won't generate much interest. However, if you have the most kickass /toothpastes/ section on the internet, everyone will love you.

Product comparisons, ingredients, health concerns, benefits, all the things that make you special.
5:22 am on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thank you - What you posted was my preferred way of doing it and thought the cleanest. There is going to be a lot of products in each.

I was just worried if there was both:

example.com/oral-care/toothpastes/
example.com/teeth-whitening/toothpastes/

It might confuse Google.
6:07 am on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The exact URL format is much, much less important than

#1 only one URL per page, even if it's reachable by more than one route
#2 clear navigation using as few steps as possible

It might confuse Google.

It might annoy google, leading them to see Duplicate Content throughout the site.
6:29 am on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Regardless of what you may read, Google does not get confused.
People build structures that algorithms can't easily "understand".

Honestly, when I see someone proposing a large site structure with lots of categories and possibilities I ask myself how is that going to be supported.

You'll need links, preferably thematically related to individual categories. Sites can't grow without an ever expanding base of connections. If you have a really wide site, you need a lot of connections to support that width.

That last part is a tightwire, walk careful.

Well look at me blathering on, think about it anyway.
8:42 am on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for all your replies - MUCH appreciated.

lucy24 - Do you mean (for example) if i had the same product in 2 different categories? - So then I would have 1 product with 2 different URL's? If so i have a good Magento extension which allows all products to direct to a single URL.

Clay - The site is not overly huge but for a lot of the products we are only the ones selling the product in our location - so they should rank well regardless. But are you saying for a larger site it would have been better to just have (for example) example.com/toothpastes/product/ or example.com/oral-care/product/ and not have the added second folder?
6:39 pm on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If so i have a good Magento extension which allows all products to direct to a single URL.

Oh, good for Magento. Yes, that's what you need.
9:49 pm on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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A site's URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers). For example, if you're searching for information about aviation, a URL like [en.wikipedia.org...] will help you decide whether to click that link. A URL like http://www.example.com/index.php?id_sezione=360&sid=3a5ebc944f41daa6f849f730f1, is much less appealing to users.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76329?hl=en [support.google.com]


While humans may be able to decode odd URL parameters, such as “,,”, crawlers have difficulty interpreting URL parameters when they’re implemented in a non-standard fashion. Software engineer on Google’s Crawling Team, Mehmet Aktuna, says “Using non-standard encoding is just asking for trouble.” Instead, connect key=value pairs with an equal sign (=) and append multiple parameters with an ampersand (&).

--

It’s difficult for automated programs, like search engine crawlers, to differentiate useful values (e.g., “gummy-candy”) from the useless ones (e.g., “sessionID”) when values are placed directly in the path. On the other hand, URL parameters provide flexibility for search engines to quickly test and determine when a given value doesn’t require the crawler access all variations.

[googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...]
The second is about faceted navigation specifically, but gives some good best/worst practice advice.

To determine the best overall since the advice is a bit different between the two, I think "friendly" with anything unnecessary in a query_string is a good compromise between SERP clicks and bot-understandability [AKA accurate interpretation of parameters].
11:23 am on Nov 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Okay so the URL's will be one of the following:

example.com/skin-care-serums/product-name
example.com/skin-care/serums/product-name

They both have the same keywords but the second has an added folder. Is this much a likeness and not really going to have much seo impact either way? If you were going to pick one for a new site, which format would you do?
8:59 pm on Nov 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Personally I'd go with the second form, assuming
example.com/skin-care/serums/product-name 
example.com/skin-care/lotions/product-name
example.com/skin-care/scrubs/product-name

et cetera. Isn't that how your navigation would work?

But honestly, you've already spent more time thinking about the question than the decision is worth.
 

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