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By EelKat Wendy C Allen

More of the question...

I am currently setting up a hotel booking website and I'm not so sure how to structure it.

I have landing pages for:

1. Cities

2. Sights

3. States

The main keywords are mainly "Hotels in Cityname" or "Hotels near Sightname".

What would be the best SEO friendly way of structuring the url?

https://hotels-example.com/hotels/cities/cityname

https://hotels-example.com/hotels/sights/sightname

https://hotels-example.com/hotels/states/statename

or

https://hotels-example.com/hotels/cityname

https://hotels-example.com/hotels/sightname

https://hotels-example.com/hotels/statename

or

https://hotels-example.com/hotels-in-cityname

https://hotels-example.com/hotels-in-sightname

https://hotels-example.com/hotels-in-statename

Or are there better ways of structuring it or am I just overthinking it?

If you go to Google's web site, and then to the help sections for AdSense, AdWords, Analytics, and YouTube, and read all of the several hundred) articles written by Google to teach you how to properly do SEO, you will find there is an article on "three tier internal linking" which they say is the recommended format to use. 

They had several info graphics showing exactly how, step by step to lay out the urls of your site, to best allow their spiders to index the pages.

The format of the urls they showed in the example, matched your 3rd grouping, not your first two examples.

The three tier format as Google themselves explained it goes like this:

  • Level 1: The Domain 
  • Level 2: The Topic Indexes/Categories
  • Level 3: The Pages

In your example it would be done like this (according to Google themselves)

  • Level 1: https://hotels-example.com 
  • Level 2: https://hotels-example.com/hotels-in-cityname
  • Level 3: https://hotels-example.com/name-of-hotel-number-1

Your site has ONLY 1, Level 1 page (https://hotels-example.com); from this page you link all the Level 2 pages into your navabar

Your site has ONE Level 2 page PER TOPIC or category (Your site will only have 10 to 30 or so Level 2 pages)

  • https://hotels-example.com/hotels-in-Old-Orchard-Beach  (Hotels In Old Orchard Beach, Maine)
  • https://hotels-example.com/hotels-in-Boston  (Hotels in Boston, Mass)

are Level 2 pages, that contain NO CONTENT other then to act as a list of links to ALL your Level 3 pages for that category. (With a short 100 word description for each page.)

The content of your Level 2 Page will look like this:

This url:  https://hotels-example.com/hotels-in-Old-Orchard-Beach  wold contain a list like this:

  • The Sand Piper Motel, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
  • Beaver Creek Condominium, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
  • The Wagon Wheel RV Park, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
  • The Brunswick Hotel, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
  • The Powderhorn Campground, Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Each of those pages is a Level 3 page, your site will have hundreds, possibly thousands of Level 3 pages; each level 3 page, featuring details of only 1 motel. The urls of those tier 3 pages would look like this:

  • https://hotels-example.com/SandPiper-Motel-OOB-ME-04064
  • https://hotels-example.com/Beaver-Creek-Condominium-OOB-ME-04064
  • https://hotels-example.com/Wagon-Wheel-RV-Park-OOB-ME-04064
  • https://hotels-example.com/Brunswick-Hotel-OOB-ME-04064 
  • https://hotels-example.com/Powderhorn-Campground-OOB-ME-04064-1520

(including the postal zip code is recommended as it helps Google's Pigeon index your pages in the correct local directories which are used in conjunction with search results in Google Maps - I know the Powderhorn's full 9 digit zip code because they are my abutting neighbour... 04064 is the zip code for the town Old Orchard Beach, the 4 digit tag 1520 at the end is the zip code for the street Portland Avenue; if you know both zip and street codes, this will boost your page in Google Map & Local Business search results dramatically - my own web site gets 80%+ of it's traffic from a 14 mile radius of the 04064-1520 zip code because of this; this is a little known technique used by travel sites that actually took the time to read Google's own help pages on how to format your local travel/business sites for Pigeon optimization - if you are looking to do a travel site, you want to do heavy research into Google's Pigeon algorithm, because that's one - not Panda - is the one that'll be hitting your site hard.)

Anyways, that's the format Google says to use. I highly recommend you do some heavy duty reading of their Help Section articles, because it's far better to get advice straight from the horse's mouth. I mean, who knows better what Google wants you to do, then Google themselves, right?


"Is it best to have a brand name or a long tail exact name domain?"

My url is my brand name, then each page is my keyword

brandname.com/keyword

Each keyword, has dozens of relevant similar keywords, resulting in LOTS of pages about 1 topic, which in turn allerts Google to the fact that this site is about one topic, because the topic is all over the site, in headers, page titles, text body, etc, rather then just in the url.

For example, let's pretend you are a cat groomer in Maine, your business names Sudds. The best url for you would be sudds.com and then make each page keyword named, with pages titled stuff like:

  • sudds.com/CatGroomingHoursAndLocation
  • sudds.com/HolidaySpecialsOnCatGrooming
  • sudds.com/CatGroomingPrices
  • sudds.com/GroomingYourCatAtHome
  • sudds.com/BestWayToBathYourCat
  • sudds.com/RemovingCatHair
  • sudds.com/CatBreedersInMaine
  • sudds.com/BestShampooForLongHairedCats
  • sudds.com/DoSphinxCatsNeedBathing
  • sudds.com/ShouldWhiteCatsBeBleached
  • sudds.com/CatBoardersInMaine
  • sudds.com/HowToBrushYourCatsTeeth
  • sudds.com/PainlessNailTrimmingForYouAndYourCat
  • sudds.com/CatVetsInMaine
  • sudds.com/BestBrushForPersianCats

The url being named the name of the company, makes it easy for customers to find the URL.

Every page having a long tail keyword, makes it easy for your customers to search within your site to find the page they are looking for.

Every page of the site being long tail keywords also tells Google your topic is Cat Grooming In Maine. It helps Google index your site in the proper categories and helps get the correct traffic to you (people who live in Maine and are searching for local cat groomers)

I used to use the exact name domain method years ago, and before Panda of 2012 it worked GREAT; now it just works meeh, okay.

Brand name with long tail keywords works far better nowadays, which is why I switched to it. I switched to in 2013, after Panda went through and made it harder for exact name domain to rank on top.

While there is no evidence that Google punished exact name domain, they no longer reward them with traffic boosts the way they did in the 2003 to 2010 era when exact name domain urls were the way to go.






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