URL - you know that stuff that comes after the www. on a website address. It stands for Uniform Resource Locator, like you really wanted to know that. But regardless of what it means, it tells your computer how to locate the web page or site you want to find.
When you create a web page, post or site, that URL always begins with your main domain - whatever that may be. On here, it's obviously Activerain.com. But when AR was purchased by Trulia, Activerain became a subdomain of Trulia, Trulia.Activerain.com. We still may be reeling from that conversion and back again. While subdomains can gain the weight of the main domain, nothing matters more than the basic URL structure.
This structure is like the old Outline we all used to do in school. The main point, then go down from there. If your website doesn't allow for simple structuring it may be time to consider a different website. URL Structure is extremely important to Google. Google looks closely at the structure to see if it makes sense. We have tested several pages to see how it works and in every instance, proper structure wins over improper structure.
Let me show you what I mean:
The basic website address or URL is: www.businessinsuranceusa.com - Keyword rich and pretty much tells Google and everyone else what the site is. While not mandatory, it is beneficial. (Exact match domains to keywords can be a little tricky with Google unless you've been out there a long time.)
The main URL would be at the top of the figurative outline. All topics and subjects would be under that main topic for the website as such. Each topic has their own subject underneath that.
Business Insurance USA
A. General Liability
B. Business Auto
2. Business Vans
C. Workers Comp
3. Death benefits
This is the basic structure of the site. Each of these pages will have their own URL structure that matches:
http://www.businessinsuranceusa.com - Main URL
A. http://www.businessinsuranceusa.com/general-liability-insurance - Topic on General Liability
1.http://businessinsuranceusa.com/general-liability-insurance/business-insurance-general-contractors - Subject under general liability...
And so forth. Each will add on the URL from the parent page. This site not only does a good job with URL structure but with keeping every topic organized with a custom sidebar (see below)
Here is the same structure for real estate:
http://www.findourpad.com/ is the base URL (you can see it's not really geo-specific, but it still can work)
All other pages fall under that naturally but properly.
We have a section dedicated to Shoreline.
http://www.findourpad.com/shoreline-properties/ - Shoreline is one of the main topics on this site. From here all blogs or pages that go with "shoreline properties" should be tacked on to the end of this URL like this: http://www.findourpad.com/shoreline-properties/shoreline-waterfront-homes/ This is the page that only talks about "waterfront homes in Shoreline"
We narrow the topic down to the keywords we researched and made sure the parent URL was "shoreline properties". Any and all information about Shoreline will fall under the parent URL http://www.findourpad.com/shoreline-properties/
Also, when creating the content, we always link up towards the main parent URL, other topics under that parent URL or the homepage. On this page we're not linking to Green Lake, Ballard or other Seattle neighborhoods, only Shoreline. This solidifies the topic, the URL and content.
Same goes with any topic. As in the insurance above, if the content talks only about "Workers comp" the page should only link upwards or to other topics that have the parent "workers comp".
For instance, if you are writing a blog post about workers comp and you have 3 other blogs under that parent URL structure, it's appropriate to link to those other three in the content if it works and is beneficial for your reader. You would not want to link to business auto insurance or another blog topic under any other parent URL except for workers comp. Keep it all under the same URL structure, all leading back to the main topic.
Custom Side Bar
Another idea if your website can manage it, is to have custom side bars or menus for each topic. Meaning when you're on the "workers comp" page, the side bar only reflects those subjects. You would have to click back to a main topic again to see the side bar that relates to a different topic. So on the workers comp page, the side bar has all the subjects of the main ideas only for workers comp, such as medical care, first aid, temp disability, permanent disability, death benefits, etc.. Each page has been deliberately and intentional set up for each main topic or idea and subjects underneath. This is the ideal URL structure and Google will reward this greatly, especially if you have excellent content and readers find value in the text.
It may be confusing and many websites may just not allow it, but it is a crucial part of SEO. I know many websites out there, some I have to deal with on a daily basis, that still have URL structure like this: http://www.nutshellrealty.com/site/899485 This tells Google nothing about what's actually on the page. This page is about Ulster County NY communities and it should reflect that by being restructured to: http://www.nutshellrealty.com/ulster-county/communities/
but until the webhost or manager changes it permanently it can be a real pain to get around. There really isn't a good way around it other than making sure you have excellent content, shared content and great back links.. but that's another blog post....