Information Architecture (IA) is usually more important than decisions related to URLs, but the training and recommendations related to IA are usually not very useful for how to create the best structure for URLs. This article will help us understand the difference between these two topics and answer many questions related to each of these topics.
In this article, Will Critchlow, one of the directors of Distilled, discusses the differences between URL structure and information architecture:
I find that when people want to give advice on information architecture, they automatically turn to the topic of the web address structure.
Specifically, I want to examine this issue from an SEO perspective. So, in fact, we want to examine information architecture in a broad way. But the bottom line is, what matters most to search engines? What do users care about the most? So we’re going to cover the basics of URL structure, but basically, we’re talking about the path that comes before us after entering a domain.
There are a few main ways to structure URLs. You can use a variety of sub-divisions for your structure, or you can use one-hand structures where all parts are somehow on the same level.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of URL structure, and there are many tips on how to implement them. You usually have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each of these methods, for example, it is usually said that having a short URL is better than a long URL, but on the other hand, it is usually recommended that you put your keyword in Also Use URL.
These recommendations are in conflict with each other. Therefore, in order to create a suitable structure in your URLs, you need to spend a little art. But I often see people who really want to give advice on information architecture end up talking about URL structure, and I want to sort of separate these topics so that we know exactly what we’re talking about. We do.
Therefore, I think the ambiguity that arises in these topics is because both of these topics include questions about which pages are on the website and what is the order between these pages or their categories. There are
Questions related to URL structure
Well, the question of what page is on the website is to some extent a question related to the URL. For example, if I go to the “shoes/women’s” section, will the status code 200 be generated? Is this the same page that displays the information on my website? Well, this issue is basically a question related to URLs. But if we examine the matter from a higher level and say, for example, which set of pages or groups of pages are located on my website, then our question is related to the information architecture, and specifically, we want to check what our information is. They have a structure and the overall structure of this hierarchy is a question related to information architecture.
But again, there is this ambiguity that questions related to hierarchy are raised in relation to URLs. So, for example, when you consider the women’s red shoes category page on your store site, you can choose its structure in a one-handed way like the example shown, or you can choose from the sub-category or sub-category structure. use. This issue is completely related to the URL. But when the questions related to the information structure are raised, this discussion becomes a little ambiguous again, which we also examine this issue.
I think one of the important issues that come to our mind is where are the detail pages placed. For example, on a store site, consider the page of one of your products. You can easily use the “product-slug/” code, which ideally contains a keyword to describe the product, or you can just use an anonymous code. use. But you can put this page on the main level (domain) or put it in its own categories and sub-categories, like this sample address.
For example, if the product you are looking for is a pair of red women’s shoes, you can put it in the address of the site such as “shoes/women’s/red”. There are several pros and cons to using this method that I won’t go into in detail, but the general point is that you can make decisions about your URLs independently of your information architecture questions.
Questions related to website information architecture
Well, now we want to examine the issues related to the information architecture of the site because these questions are much more important in terms of your search performance. These questions, as we have raised before, are basically related to what pages are on the website and what is their hierarchy.
- How many levels of categories and subcategories should there be on the website?
- What should be in the main navigation section of the site?
- Does the site have two levels of depth?
- Is the site three levels deep?
- Do we want all the pages of the site to be able to be navigated and indexed?
- How do we create links between these different parts of the site?
- How should we create links between similar products that are in the same category or subcategory?
- How to create a link between these structures and higher-level categories (parent)?
- How should we definitively create good link paths from the big and main pages of our site, such as the main page or the main category pages, to other parts?
- What is the link path through which you can reach the level of detail for each product on the website by clicking on several links?
These questions are very important. These topics have a great impact on both SEO and the depth of site navigation. For example, the search engine crawler enters your site and says: “I need to find all these pages and all the detail pages on your website.” So, the question is, what is the depth of the click and the crawling path that goes from this main page to other parts of the site?
Link authority and link path
The issue of link validity is also one of the important issues. Your internal linking structure has an impact on your PageRank and other link evaluation metrics on your website, which is why you need to create precise link paths for your products, between products, and between product categories and homepage hierarchies. you have. How can we create the best links from our home pages to pages containing details and pages back to the main category?
Make decisions related to IA before deciding on URL structure
After you’ve made all of your IA-related decisions, you can now choose your favorite URL for any type of page you want.
There are questions related to SEO information architecture, and the important thing to understand is that you can make all the decisions related to your information structure; For example, what pages are there, which subcategory should be indexed, how to create links between similar products, and so on. We can make all these decisions, and apart from all the decisions, we can choose any URL structure needed for the page path and the type of URL we want.
There is no need to confuse these issues. But many times I see that people cannot distinguish between these issues. People talk about these questions as if they are related to information architecture and first decide on the URL, while you should first decide on the best structure of the URL in your opinion, for example, as I said, usually to decide between choosing long URLs, choose URLs with more details or short paths, which, in addition to your own knowledge, requires a little art.
I hope this article has familiarized you with the main topics and differences between URL structure and information architecture of websites.