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URL Structure

You publish a page or a blog post on your website. 

Is your permalink structure set up on blog posts that have all blog posts live under a /blog subfolder? 

That great page you published, is there a parent page to it?

What about the great post that goes into great details about a product or a service. It’s a post, huh? Why wasn’t it published as a child of the parent topic?

The goal of having a clean, organized URL structure is to benefit both users and search engine bots. 

Often, SMBs have URL structures that look like this:

/
/about-us
/service-1
/service-2
/service-3
/service-4
/service-5
/service-6
/contact
/blog
/post-1
/post-2
/post-3

Every page is nested under the homepage, including blog posts. 

There is no topical flow in this example. 

A more clean, organized version of the example above is:

/
/about-us
/topic-1
     /topic-1/service
/topic-2
     /topic-2/service
/topic-3
     /topic-3/service
/contact
/blog/
     /blog/post-1
     /blog/post-2
     /blog/post-3

Here, we have an easier way of navigating and crawling the website. 

It’s clean, it’s organized. It has topical flow!

Instead of having your website look like a 10k piece puzzle, it needs to be organized in an efficient manner. 

Topics Instead of Keywords

Going after a single keyword is a great way of pigeonholing your local SEO strategy.

Keywords are ok but topics are Very Good. A topic will help encompass all semantically-related keywords into one, central topic.

Why yes, the higest volume keyword will be at the top of the topic list, while the other keywords related to the core topic can bring the same, if not more search volume in total.

Semantically-related keywords  help you with your content writing for the topic page. 

No, these individual keywords do not need to placed 1.6x per 500 words of content. 

Like a conversation, they will be included in the content.

Topic examples:

HVAC is a topic that encompasses Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. 

Bicycle accident lawyer is a subtopic of personal injury.

Ok, moving on…

Topic Silos

Each topic should have its own silo on your website.

If we use an example of an HVAC company that also does plumbing, here’s how that might look:

/hvac/
/plumber/

Nested under /hvac/, we would have;

/hvac/heating
/hvac/ventilation
/hvac/air-conditioning

HVAC would serve as the hub for Heating, Ventilation, & A/C.

There are more subtopics that could be added, such as;

/hvac/heating/installation
/hvac/heating/repair
/hvac/ventilation/duct-cleaning
/hvac/air-conditioning/service

But…

If this HVAC company’s main focus is HVAC, then the homepage is going to be focused on HVAC.

The above example would then change to;

/heating
/ventilation
/air-conditioning
/plumber

Building Out Your Ideal URL Structure

Before you look at your current URL structure, first, you need to build out your topic list, err get your local keyword research done and organized. 

Done? Great. 

Use your favorite crawler to crawl your website. 

I like using Sitebulb

Everyone loves looking at their Crawl Maps but I prefer Document Trees.

Sitebulb Document Tree

This shows a clear-cut hierarchy starting at the homepage. 

In this example, we can see that 10 pages are nested under the homepage. One page has a crawl depth of 2 (It’s actually a blog category page that should be noindexed). 

This is a local HVAC company in Bend, Oregon. 

Out of these 10 pages, only 4 should be nested underneath the homepage.

The remaining 6 pages should be nested underneath their respective parent topic.

If this were my client, we would take the necessary steps to move those pages under their respective topic, add more, relevant content, update internal links, implement 301 redirects, and make sure there were 0 internal 301 redirects.

Your turn. 

URL Structures For Multi-Location Businesses

If you have multiple locations you’re trying to rank in, this section is for you.

This section pertains to companies that have ACTUAL physical locations.

If you’re interested in ranking in other locations you are not physically located in, I have a guide coming out on SEMrush soon. The guide should be coming out September. When it does, I’ll update this section with the link and send an email to subscribers.

If you operate the same services in multiple locations, here’s your ideal url structure for locations:

/
/locations
     /locations/city-1
     /locations/city-2
     /locations/city-3
/topic-1
/topic-2
/topic-3

I left out blog, contact, about, etc, those are a given. 

The locations page is going to be the hub for all locations. If you have 100’s or 1000’s of locations, you might consider breaking down locations at the state-level.

Your topic pages are going to go in-depth, followed by appropriate subtopics nested underneath.

On your location pages, your content will be focused on your local presence and services offered. 

You provide high-level overviews of the services offered and link to the topic pages for further research.

You can create nested pages under each city page for specials, before and afters, etc.

You don’t need to have the breadth of your topic pages covered in each location page. 

Internal links are your friend.

Ongoing Content Efforts

If you’ve done topic research, built out the buyer’s journey, inbound marketing, whatever you want to call it, have you considered where that content will live?

Maybe not.

Most of the time, all that content is going to be published to the website as a blog post. 

If you’re doing full-funnel marketing, a lot of that informational and mid-funnel content can and should live under its respective topic.

Oh, you’re adding internal links when it’s published.

Bully for you, but is the home for this great content best suited under your blog or under the topic it belongs to?

I rest my case.

Oh wait, what if some of that informational content earns links? 

Sure, some of link equity will flow through via your internal links but if that content lived under its parent topic, do you not think the topic will earn more link equity?

I believe it does.