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we have a website about a huge topic, or better said, many different topics that suit to a one huge topic.

We have a good balanced structure with 3 levels depth:

www.domain.com/l1/l2/l3

Our problem is, that some of level3-topics are very important and we hope to get high traffic on them.

The question: is it SEO-friendly to get these topics from 3th level to first level?

So if the user is on the 2nd level and sees all the topics from l3 and clicks at one important page from l3, he gets to the first level.

www.domain.com/l1/l2 -> www.domain.com/l3

  • Can you give us more details? Why do you think it could be better for users moving that folder to an higher level? – lucgenti Jun 8 '15 at 11:23
  • We think, if someone looks for a topic which is in level3, he would prefer clicking on www.domain.com/l3 rather than www.domain.com/l1/l2/l3, because maybe he or she thinks in www.domain.com/l3 will be more important content. The question is, think google like this too? – user25765 Jun 8 '15 at 11:41
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Actually, directory depth has little to do with anything anymore. It is more about how many clicks from the home page and/or primary topic page any page is.

Taking SEO for example, let's say you have a link in your navigation on every page to the SEO primary topic page. This page would be important for three reasons: one, it is linked from the home page; two, it is linked from every page; and three, it is within the navigation. It is important to use the nav tag and use nav or navigation for the class name for the div tag to properly signal your navigation. From there any page that is linked from the SEO primary topic page is seen as important, but pages more than one link away will lose importance as it goes. In this case, you can draw a cloud around the SEO primary topic page and any other SEO sub-topic page and indeed do this for any topic you have.

In this way, it is important to gauge a pages importance by number of links from the home page and from any important primary topic page. The further away it is from either of these, the less important the page is. Think of the PageRank schema when mapping your pages. Each page that is further away loses any rank that is passed through the links.

You can sculpt your site using this method. However, I would not try and be too manipulative. Be natural when signaling importance. In this way, you can signal importance for any page by changing how you link to it. As well, you can use any other navigation available such as side-bar navigation to signal importance. Just know that navigation blocks are seen in importance in the order they appear in your HTML code. So your header navigation should be first, any side-bar navigation second, and footer navigation last.

Also keep in mind, importance can come from cross-linking between pages. Do not be excessive and inappropriate, but topical. However, you should be able to adjust a pages importance this way as well. It is important to cross-link between pages as much as you can without getting silly. Think of the user first. But also think of the signal you are sending.

Lastly, I do not have to tell you that on-page SEO signals are important too. People can confuse poor performance in search with factors that may not be a problem, but rather that the page just does not perform as well as it could using on-page signals, link signals (off-page), and of course inbound (back) linking signals. All of these things add up to gauging a pages importance.

  • Great summary. One clarification, however. You say 'but pages more than one link away'. Do you mean, as in one click away or one directory level away? For example, www.example.com/level-1/level-2/ is two directories. If this link is placed in the Primary Navigation, within the header.php, then it will be one link away from every page. – Craig Apr 28 '18 at 1:06
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    Link depth and directory depth are two different things. Link depth is measured in clicks. More technically like nodes on a network distance is measured in hops from node to node. I mention this because this is the exact algorithm / method / theory used to measure importance between linked resources on the web. Add to that, Pagerank incorporates trust network theory. But that is for another time. Cheers!! – closetnoc Apr 28 '18 at 2:02
  • @Craig Anytime! We are here for you my friend. – closetnoc Apr 28 '18 at 2:50
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You can do that, but remember to properly redirect 301 old urls to new ones.

But before doing it, try to experiment in simpler and different ways. Make this content more prominent. For example by adding a link to the L3 homepage to the main navigation bar, add content in homepage or sidebars pointing that way.

Try to answer these questions for gaining some insights:

  1. Why do you want people coming to these pages, but they don't get to them?
  2. Are you trying to push content, or thanks to quantitative and qualitative analysis you concluded that people struggles in finding l3 content?
  3. What are the questions in the mind of your audience when they want to reach this kind of content?

It's correct to consider new way to give structure and hierarchy (because our way to see things could be very different from what audiences actually think about them). The same reason to consider that what we think could be relevant (like a url structure) maybe for audience isn't relevant.

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