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Adding a pathway

should I map it to existing urls or start over?

9:09 pm on May 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've got a site which has about 800 pages, currently broken down into various sections (news, reviews, forums, etc).

What I haven't done is provide a meaningful navigation that relates to obvious themes WITHIN those sections.

Rather than use the usual "widget", I'm going to use something more relevant...let's say, "cars". So, I have a car forum, car reviews, car news etc etc.

This means that I have a structure that relates to what kind of content it *is*, rather than what the content is *about*:

But really, my users think in terms of exclusively "Ford" OR exclusively "Honda", etc...so really, I want to tie together the "Ford" related sections across my site, using a pathbar like so:


The question is, and thank-you if you've made it this far, should I

(a) map a pathway onto the existing url structure, i.e. the pathway will NOT resemble the urls,
(b) redirect the old urls to a new url structure which resembles the pathway?

The first option is probably easier, just need to knock up a pathway module, and I can leverage all the existing urls. However, will I lose some SEO benefit from having the pathway match the urls?

I hope that made sense...Many thanks in advance for any replies!

7:15 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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In a nutshell, my question is:

When creating a pathway, does it matter if the pathway does not match the structure of the url?

Does it matter if the pathway:
HOME->Cheap Red widgets
maps to the url:

7:36 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

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When you say pathway I'm assuming you mean the breadcrumb nav.

Look, in the end, the breadcrumb is just a set of links that infer something about the target pages, and establish a "map" of how the site's pages related to one and other. But the engines do tend to recogize breadcrumb links as nav, and when they don't line up with site structure, it can create confusion. I've seen it many times, especially with larger sites.

80% of SEO is just getting sites to the point that every page on the site is:
- clear in terms of it's content
- distinguishable from every other page on the site
- understood with respect to it's hierarchical importance within the site and sections of the site.

Trying to cut the directory stucture one way while the nav seems to suggest a different structure obviously runs the risk of confusing the engines as to what is what on the site.

Anything that runs the risk of dampening rankings is something I stay away from, so I would never run a site that way, since especially in competitive categories great rankings are sometimes a game of inches. IMHO, always better to have the directory structure and nav as well aligned as possible.

Having said that, there are ways around the issue that are good for engines and users. Keep the nav aligned with directory structure. But add sub nav in the form of "Related Pages" or whatever, allowing users to link off to other parts of the site that are closely related.

This also allows you to keep clean site structure and nav, yet also show the engines the pages in different sections of the site that are nonetheless closely related. Win-win. ;-)


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