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I'm updating an old site. Pages are scattered over several directories & sub-directories.

usa/cars/ford/thiscar.html usa/cars/thiscar/mycar.html

Some of the pages rank well.

Each page has good breadcrumbs which make perfect sense. I'm also introducing Schemas.

I know I can 301 pages to more appropriate directories however I have noticed rank drops for some when trying this out. Some of the subdirectories are 4 levels down.

My question basically boils down to, is it worth it to 301 pages to better directory structures or just leave them as is?

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In the long term, it is better to have a solid, easy to read URL structure for both humans and SE.

Quote from YOAST:

Well, if you launch a new site and you have new URLs, you’ll need to redirect all the old URLs to the new URLs and it’ll take some time for Google to pick up that those URLs have changed. If you’re staying on the same domain name, your traffic will probably stay the same, but you will need to redirect all those URLs and it might take some time. You might lose some traffic for a while, up to even six months and then after that everything should be fine. It’s probably worth it if your URLs look really bad though, so it’s a trade-off but I’d probably still go for it. Good luck!

Here is another quote, this time by Searchenginewatch:

And when it comes to your website, your URLs are often the first thing Google and customers will see.

When i look at the structure you have provided, it looks pretty clean, btw.

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    Quoting YOAST is fine but you need to supply a link or, otherwise, we don't know who you are quoting. The YOAST people or some anonymous commenter in a post over there. – Rob Jul 5 at 12:18
  • Do people read url structures though? I don't. I certainly look at them to make sure it's the right site. On the website itself as I mentioned there are breadcrumbs which link people to the appropriate directory above each page etc. My main issue is Google and does a directory structure factor in to the SERPS? – Dtheme Jul 6 at 7:01
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Generally speaking, fewer directory levels is easier to read and navigate for people and crawlers.

I think what you have setup is good, but without knowing more about the site content I can't really say how much you need that keyword as a URL.

So if your site is just cars you probably aren't getting much more additional benefit from adding cars to the URL.

But if you want to distinguish between /ford/cars and /ford/trucks/ and possibly capture some keyword traffic, that would be a good idea based on how much work it is and how much traffic you expect from it.

The USA directory may not make very much sense, I don't search for "ford mustang usa" when I am dreaming about a fastback or something.

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It depends on the scope of the campaign you are running. If you wish to do primary finger in the wind SEO campaign (nothing wrong with that if budget and resources are limited), then leave as it is and don't bother. It may, in the end, be just more work to achieve the previous rankings.

If however you set up proper strategies, i.e. Dynamic Keyword Strategies, Content, Outreach - addressing all query intents that correlate to conversion Funnel (and take User Journey into account), then the only way forward is a clear site structure with landing pages that contain optimised content that resonates with semantic keyword groups, etc. It is a hell lot of work and requires quite a bit of budget. It depends on who your competitor is and what you need.

The bottom line is - if you don't want to waste too much time being overly strategic and put a hell lot of work into this - leave it as it is :)

(PS: - it is not a best practice answer per se, but in a way, it is the best course of action depending on scope, needs and how much you fancy staying up all night for a very long time :P)

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If your site is well indexed and pretty old, I would suggest sticking to the old schemas and URLs. But, if it's necessary to change the structure, then go for it, but, make sure you request Google to re-indexing the site through Google Search Console. Also, remove the old URLs from the index when logged into Google Search Console. Doing so will stop it from showing already indexed old URLs/pages in the search results, thus saving the visitors from reaching a 404 page. You may refer to this article before you proceed.

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