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Understanding The Difference Between URL Structure And Information Architecture


URL structure and Information Architecture (IA) are often confused with each other when advice is given. People who speak about URL structure slowly and gradually shift towards IA without much notice, and vice versa. Thus, it is very easy to get confused between both, but it is equally important to maintain distinction between them. Although IA tends to be more impactful than URL decision, the advice given around IA defaults to suggestions on how to best structure your URLs. Thus, the main confusion that arises between the two is regarding the questions around which pages exist on a website and what hierarchies are there between the pages. Here, we will discuss about the differences between decisions about the path in the URLs and decisions about IA.

Questions involved with the URL structure

Should the path of a product be –

  • product – ABC
  • product/ABC
  • product/category/ABC, or
  • product/category/sub-category/ABC

Questions involved with IA

  • How should the products pages be grouped and linked?
  • How many levels of sub-category pages should be there?
  • Should there be a link up to the parent category?
  • How many products can be reached in n no. of clicks from the homepage?
  • How should sibling products in the same sub-category pages be linked?
  • Do we allow all the pages at all levels to be crawled and indexed?
  • How should good link paths be built from bigger pages on the website?

People often misinterpret these URL and IA questions. But, looking at it from an SEO perspective, most of the groupings and questions are those about the pages that should exist, and how the pages should be linked together. You may have category page types without necessarily having it to appear in the URL as a folder or keyword. You may also choose to link up the hierarchy or across to sibling products within a category type, with or without the links sharing elements of their paths.

Thus, we can see that IA considerations are more important than URL considerations, and thus must be focused upon with higher priority. It is the IA that controls the flow of link equity, along with the discoverability and crawlability of different pages of a website. IA questions make a big difference on an SEO front. Therefore, you may first make IA decisions, and then make decision about how you can structure paths for your URLs. After you have made whatever IA decision you would like to, you can then independently choose your preferred URLs for each page type.

IA and URL structure get muddied too often, which is not needed. It is an art to understand the difference and make important decisions first and better. So now that you have understood the difference between both URL and IA, you should be in a better position to make decisions. However, if you can’t, you can always hire a professional digital marketing company in India to help you out with all your decisions.


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