graphicpush

Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

Deciding URL Structure

In moving graphicpush over to a new host, I now have the capability to run clean URLs from the .htaccess file. That’s all good and fine, but deciding what kind of URL structure to use has raised an interesting internal debate.

If you noticed some slight weirdness with graphicpush.com last week, it’s because I moved the site to my Dreamhost account. While I adored Fatcow for their stellar customer support and incredible spam filter, their system was simply too tightly wound — I could not run TXP the way I wanted because .htaccess was locked down.

The rewrite rule in the .htacess file is what allows Textpattern (and other software) to create pretty URLs out of messy stuff like index.php?id=233. Dreamhost, unlike Fatcow, supports rewriting extensions, so for the first time in years, graphicpush will benefit from clean, semantic URLs.

Which brings up an interesting conundrum — what kind of URL to have. Changing the structure is simple in TXP, so I’ve been messing around with different options.

www.site.com/section/article-title

This is the traditional structure I use in all non-blog sites. 99% of the time, it makes sense for corporate environments — sites are split into big sections (about, services, contact, etc.) and a URL like www.hyperglobalmegacorp.com/about/company-history makes perfect sense.

But graphicpush doesn’t work like that. The articles don’t fall within semantic sections because they are all lumped under one general “articles” section name. There are a bunch of smaller sections across the site (contact, advertising, icons, archive, etc.) where having the clean directory structure is preferred (e.g., graphicpush.com/icons/), but not for the main content.

www.site.com/2005/10/31/article-title

This technique seems common in blogs, especially the Wordpress and MT crowd. While the faux directory structure makes general sense on an organizational level, and gives the casual browser an idea of when the article was published, it just seems like noise. Year/month/day seems redundant, especially when I publish the date right below the title of all my entries.

www.site.com/article-title

Believe it or not, this is what I am going with for the time being. Since all of the articles are only one level off the homepage, the directory structure makes sense. My site has one giant section: the content. Why obfuscate that?

I’m looking for arguments either way. I truly understand the appeal of the date structure, but it seems too “bloggy” to me. The third option seems better. The best, obviously, would be www.site.com/category/article-title, but that has yet to be supported in TXP.

,

commentary + criticism

Shane

wrote the following on Monday June 19, 2006

I agree with you. The problem with changing your URL structure is that when you go back to all your past posts, if you cross-link any of them, it breaks all the links.

Kevin

wrote the following on Monday June 19, 2006

Does Dreamhost have a tutorial on re-writing urls or is there a better one out there that you know of?

Kevin

wrote the following on Monday June 19, 2006

The best .htaccess tutorial I have found is the one I linked to in the article: Comprehensive guide to .htaccess on javascriptkit.com. Not sure if it covers that specific topic, but it’s the first place I would look.

Emiliano

wrote the following on Tuesday June 20, 2006

A few links:
redirecting and rewriting
Clean URLs
mod_rewrite cheat sheets

Jennifer Grucza

wrote the following on Tuesday June 20, 2006

Well I guess the date in the URL is good if you’re writing a lot of articles with the same name. :)

Jon-Michael

wrote the following on Wednesday June 28, 2006

I agree; the date structure is naggingly-long. I prefer http://site.com/section/category/title, but that isn’t possible out of the box for TXP. For now, I think http://site.com/section/title is better than http://site.com/title, since it’s more future-proof. Too bad there wasn’t an easy way to update all the search engines of any URL changes.

Kevin

wrote the following on Monday July 3, 2006

Well, my content is organized by categories, not sections. I really wish TXP supported categories in clean URLs, because my ideal structure would be www.site.com/category/title. Unfortunately, www.site.com/section/title has no semantic value for me, so it won’t do.

Knowing Art by PJ

wrote the following on Thursday July 6, 2006

I made a similar decision recently. I decided to go with subdomains and I used a WordPress plugin to automate it. Each category gets a new subdomain. So far it hasn’t improved my SE traffic, but I think it will work out for the best in the long run. I think your idea to shorten the URL is good, in fact I think I read that Google prefers shorter URLs.

David Kitchen

wrote the following on Sunday August 6, 2006

What I find most frustrating is the ID number which is included in the url structure. As I use wordpress for publishing purposes other than simply blogging, I am unable to re-arrange my content once it has been posted. If I do so, I lose the benefit of these previously indexed pages, including the PR. Does anyone know of a plugin that can help me with this?

John Pools

wrote the following on Tuesday August 29, 2006

Can anyone help me with this dillema. When you click on the next post link, the URL of on the next page has a page number in it. For example: http://www.site.com/page/2/

Is it possible to get rid of this and have the actual URL of the post listed. I fear that with more than one URL for the same post, google will penalize me for duplicate content. Would this be the case?

Tony Dna

wrote the following on Thursday September 21, 2006

John, a simple solution to your problem is changing the permalink structure.

You can do this quite simply by changing: ’/%category%/%post_id%/%postname%/’ to ’/%category%/%postname%/’.

Simple as that.

praca

wrote the following on Tuesday October 10, 2006

Yes maybe you’re right but shorter url is better url for seo – i prefer domain.com/url/ or domain.com/category/url .

Pozycjonowanie

wrote the following on Friday October 20, 2006

Well I guess the date in the URL is good if you’re writing a lot of articles with the same name. :)

Chlodnie

wrote the following on Monday November 13, 2006

Good article. Thank you.
I had the pleasure to work with Wordpress on a project lately and I use SEO URL : mydomain.com/category/name-url/
I have use a plugin and this becomes all alone!

Curt

wrote the following on Sunday November 19, 2006

I think – http://yourdomain.com/category/title – is the best way. Or each category gets a new subdomain.

Plasma

wrote the following on Sunday November 19, 2006

I thought the short url is the best, but for many articles the date is not bad in the url…

Used Buses

wrote the following on Thursday November 23, 2006

Does Dreamhost have a tutorial on re-writing urls or is there a better one out there that you know of?

Tom Barnes

wrote the following on Wednesday November 29, 2006

I think dreamhost have no tutorial on re-writing urls!

Robert

wrote the following on Saturday December 2, 2006

I narrowly agree.
I think it´s better to make new construct with a new URL.

eMule Forum

wrote the following on Saturday December 9, 2006

Yes maybe you’re right but shorter url is better url for seo – i prefer domain.com/url/ or domain.com/category/url .

Andre

wrote the following on Monday December 11, 2006

It´s a good idea and i will try it. But i also think that a short url is better.

island-man

wrote the following on Tuesday December 12, 2006

In my opinion the rule should always be: keep it simple!

Anne Clark

wrote the following on Wednesday December 13, 2006

The better URL ist the URL which is more search engine friendly. A good idea is: The URL should have the same structure than the navigation menue!

Dominik

wrote the following on Wednesday December 13, 2006

You have a little Error in your Text.

The rewrite rule in the .htacess file is what all

It is .htaccess :)

Kerner

wrote the following on Monday December 18, 2006

The rewrite rule in the .htacess file is what all

Nobody else has noticed this, excellent ;-).

Yamo Konto

wrote the following on Wednesday December 20, 2006

@Anne Clark: I agree completely. And this structure meets the requirements of Google, that the Google bot and the human visitors should see the same content of a website.

Brautkleider - Tante

wrote the following on Wednesday December 20, 2006

it is fascinating, that there are people who realize every little mistake. The Link works also with this mistyping, so what is the reason to post it here? But not to the main topic: as a user, I prefer a Short URL. If you want to store it or copie it for example in document or excel(not everyone use bookmarks all the time), than this is an advantage.

server.met jimi

wrote the following on Wednesday December 27, 2006

Yes maybe you’re right but shorter url is better url for seo – i prefer domain.com/url/ or domain.com/category/url .

Mag

wrote the following on Sunday January 14, 2007

I think writing URL structure this way also helps to increase keyword density, rather than distracting Search Engine spider with date combination.

Sven

wrote the following on Thursday February 22, 2007

What I find most frustrating is the ID number which is included in the url structure. As I use wordpress for publishing purposes other than simply blogging, I am unable to re-arrange my content once it has been posted. If I do so, I lose the benefit of these previously indexed pages, including the PR. Does anyone know of a plugin that can help me with this?

Dow

wrote the following on Friday March 9, 2007

I also prefer title instead of the date in the url. But I also try to find the golden medium since I have heard/read too that google prefers shorter urls and from a SEO point of view every detail(even the smallest) matters.