Defining links to categories in a web site

A simple practice that can help you to define the links to a category in a web site: KEEP IT SIMPLE (KIS). By adding the name of the category directly to the main URL, you can make up your mind about moving the category to another parent category. (E.g.: Instead of www.yourwebsite.com/cat-parent-1/cat-parent-2/category-name/ just go with www.yourwebsite.com/category-name/). From my experience, during the lifetime of a web site, this happens often.

Example:
Lets say the default category structure is:
Home > Sanitary Objects > Sinks 
Your category will link will normally look like this:
www.yourwebsite.com/sanitary-objects/sinks/

But you decide to change the categories, to specialize a little?
Home > Sanitary Objects > Bathroom > Sinks 
www.yourwebsite.com/sanitary-objects/bathroom/sinks/

or you decide to move it to a completely entire new structure:
Home > House and Garden > Bathroom > Sinks
www.yourwebsite.com/house-and-garden/bathroom/sinks/

I recommend the simple approach when you are certain that in the future the web site’s structure will be affected. Yes, from SEO point of view it is better to have unchanged and relatively detailed paths to categories, but practical reasons will determine us to reach the conclusion that it is better to compromise.

Home (www.yourwebsite.com/)
 > House and Garden (www.yourwebsite.com/house-and-garden/)
   > Bathroom (www.yourwebsite.com/bathroom/)
     > Sinks ((www.yourwebsite.com/sinks/)

KIS Links Advantages:

  • The simple URL is easy to read;
  • You can make up your mind about organizing different categories;
  • Each category name is a keyword for SEO, it is easier to build a SEO strategy for a simple URL, without mixing things up;
  • Good for multiple category scenario: a category can belong to multiple parent categories as the URL does not reflect the breadcrumb.

KIS Links Disadvantages:

  • A long URL can define a better path in the web site for both Search Engine and user.

Good to know:

  • User’s path can be transmitted by parameters: www.yourwebsite.com/sinks?path=house-and-garden&bathroom
    (Please remember to specify in Google Webmasters Tools in Configuration: dynamic URL Parameters not to be crawled)
  • Instead of reading and understanding the path from the URL, you can easily read it from the breadcrumb: add a nice and visible breadcrumb to your web site, this is also an usability feature;
  • When landing directly on a category page from the Internet, it is better for you to define a default category structure in the admin section. Recommended for categories present in multiple sections.
    Selecting a default category for breadcrumb
  • Do not confuse Categories with Filters, Filters should never be indexed and they should not be included in the category’s name unless you want to make them a category by themselves.
    Home
      > Shoes (Gender and age filter: Men, women, children)
    
    Home 
      > Shoes 
        > Shoes for men
        > Shoes of women
        > Shoes for children
    

    In the above example the ‘Gender and Age’ filter is transformed in a Category, as it is, not only rearranging the products, but adding value to the information as well.

  • And finally, this category linking strategy can be applied with success to build clean and efficient product links too.