URL Structure Guide: The Perfect Permalink

What’s the perfect website URL structure?

Well it depends. 

Great answer I know, but it’s true. It depends on how many potential pages you’re going to have and it depends if you’re publishing time sensitive content.

The blog URL

Go here to learn more about the parts of a URL.

For most of you reading this, /blog is the ideal structure for your blog because it gives a nice site architecture to your website. It makes it easy to differentiate pages and posts for Google.

Here are the most common URL structures people use with WordPress:

/post-name – This one is good, but it’s only ideal if your website will not have a lot of pages of content. You could totally create a blog with hundreds of pages of content and be fine using this structure, it’s just not ideal.

/date/post-name – This one should only be used if your content is time sensitive. otherwise, don’t include the date as it makes your URL’s pointlessly long.

/category/post-name or blog/category/post-name – This URL structure is ideal for websites that will have thousands of pages of content. It works because you’re able to make each category into it’s own “mini site” via the URL structures. A good example of website that does this is  ThePennyHoarder.com.

They have categories like “life” and under life they have subcategories like “travel, college, parenting.” It allows the amount of content being published to be well organized into different categories since they publish 10+ pieces of content a week. If they were to simply stick to the /post-name URL structure, they simply could not organize the content well enough for effective SEO.

Lastly, this is helpful because you don’t want pages on your website competing with one another. You don’t want two pages about buying “car insurance” or something. But if you have one page that is /parenting/car-insurance and college/car-insurance those two pages could be going after totally different keywords

Why /blog is best for most bloggers

It simply helps with organizing the site structure and explaining to Google’s crawlers what is a static page on your website and what is a blog post. Does this mean that static pages are more valuable? NO. It’s all about organizing your website so every page gets crawled, indexed and hopefully ranked where it belongs.

What blogs do this?

NielPatel.com uses “blog” in his URL’s and he gets millions of visitors a month.

Moz.com does so too and it’s an SEO blog.

ChaseReiner.com also uses this structure and he runs a popular SEO blog as well.

It’s a useful structure when you start to have static pages like services, products and resource pages. It helps Google’s crawlers index blog post more easily for specific keywords and phrases too.

For example, the above is the breadcrumb for the page your on now. Having this structure while longer than /page-title helps to organize your blog post and tells Google that your blog post is related to something specific. In this case, this blog post is related to SEO.

Use Child Pages

Child pages are useful too. They’re ideal to use when you have one page that is related to another page but more specific. For example:

Website.com/products/product-name

This is ideal if you have multiple products for sale and want to organize them all under on page product and to give each on their own.

I’ve also done this numerous times with the basic tutorials on this website.

This structure makes sense because the child page is related to the parent page but is way more detailed and specific about a topic.

Why not just use blog posts then?

Blog posts and categories should be used in most cases. It’s better to publish various product reviews under a category called “product reviews” instead of making a page and child pages. But child pages are useful for things like products and directories.

Use https for your domain

Web hosts like Siteground now give an SSL certificate for free. Simply install WordPress and select https instead of http. This will encrypt that data that is being transmitted between your website and the end users computer. Numerous websites saw a boost in rankings by implementing https.

Cloak Affiliate Links

It’s a good idea to clock affiliate links. That means, taking a long affiliate link like helpfullebook.com/4626aff=id374 into something more logical like websitecreativepro.com/go/affiliate-product.

This is more optimal because again, you’re structuring your website so Google’s crawlers know what are pages, what are posts and what are external links.

How the heck is a robot going to know if websitecreativepro.com/ebook is a page or an external link? Should it index this page or is this page really a 301 redirect to a product?

Make it easy and structure your website correctly.

Make Sure You Set canonical URL’s

What is this? It’s simply the preferred version of your website. Say you have a post on traveling to New Delhi India. Your post could be something like:

website.com/new-delhi-guide

But you also decided to add it to a category in WordPress called travel so now you have:

website.com/travel/new-delhi-guide

Not good as you could have two identical pages. This tends to be a bigger issue with Shopify stores than anything else. With WordPress you can follow this guide if you want learn more about setting canonical URL’s.

Use Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are a win-win for all involved. Your website visitors like them because it tells them where they are and gives them options to explore. Search engines like them because it helps your content get sorted and indexed as you’re making your site structure easy to understand.

Avoid Stop Words and Special Characters

Stop words are things like “a” or “in” and “the” as an example. An example of this would be:

website.com/drive-a-car

A better URL would be:

website.com/drive-car

Lastly, don’t use special characters in your URL’s. The only ones acceptable are to use a dash or a hyphen.

Website.com/post-name is fine, so is website.com/post_name. Using anything else will cause problems with the search engine. 

What about tag in WordPress?

I don’t use tags. They don’t fit into any logical hierarchical and don’t seem to do anything other than create a lot of unhelpful pages.

If you’re set on using tags, then tags should be specific topics within a category. So maybe your category is “Ford trucks,” a potential tag would be “Ford F-150” for example. 

Also, don’t use a tag one time. If you decide to create a tag, then you should tag a few different posts as to no create a thin page on your website.

If you find yourself tagging the same thing post after post then perhaps you should make that tag into a sub category instead.

Categories and sub categories

For most bloggers 2-7 categories should cover all the majority of your content. There is no limit and seemingly no penalty for using a lot of categories but you should think about your end user and how best to structure your website to make it ease for visitors to self select what they want to dive deeper into.

Next are subcategories. As mentioned earlier with thepennyhoarder.com, you can create sub categories. Try to keep the whole structure balanced.

Personally, I don’t use sub categories simply because I’ve never had a website over 500 pages where it would begin making sense to break things up. Typically, i’ll start a new website and have 2 or 3 categories. Once the content continues to expand into new related topics I’ll go ahead and create a new category.

Keep your menu navigation simple

You want to have “shallow depth navigation” which is explained in more detail here. Simply keep your menu bar as simple as possible. Allowing a visitor to reach various pages in your website in as little as three clicks.

Yes I know there are quite a few popular blogs like makingsenseofcents.com that use a very, cluttered and messy menu, but this is simply not a good practice.

You want to keep your menu simple. About, resource, products, blog contact, services. If you have a lot of different pages then consider using a drop down menu.

Conclusion – Plan Out Your Website URL structure

Your websites architecutre and structure are important for your websites SEO as well as the end user experience. Keep things logical, simple and well organized.

Blog posts and categories, service pages and products, outbound affiliate links.

Remember your website will be a money making machine, build it right because great SEO will follow a great site structure. It should look something like this: