Ask Yoast: Order of categories and subcategories in URLs

It’s important to put some thought into your URL structure, particularly when you’re starting a new website. If you make sure your URL structure is clear and focused right from the beginning, you won’t have to face the huge task of changing and redirecting all your URLs later on. But, of course, sometimes you need to revise your site’s taxonomy, and changing things is inevitable.

You’ll be faced with many choices when you’re revising your site, and you probably hope there’s one clear-cut way to approach things. Unfortunately, often that’s not the case. In our Ask Yoast inbox, we receive many questions that are so specific to a site’s situation, history and mission, that no one but the site owner can really answer them. But of course, we can try to help by clearing some things up. So let’s get to this week’s question!

Matt Markley emailed us this question:

We are revising our site’s taxonomy. Does the order of categories and subcategories in the URL have an impact on SEO? The category keyword is more important to rank than the subcategory keyword.

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

The SEO impact of the order of categories and subcategories in URLs

“Well, yes it matters. Mostly because, if you’re going to change the order, the links matter. And if the links on your site change, so you need to redirect them, you might lose some rankings because of that.

Other than that, no they don’t really matter. The question is: do you truly need the category and the subcategory in your permalinks? Or could you actually go with shorter permalinks and would that be better? That’s something that you have to ask yourself, not a question I can answer for you. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

Read more: The perfect WordPress SEO permalink structure »

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13 Responses to Ask Yoast: Order of categories and subcategories in URLs

  1. Suresh Dubey
    Suresh Dubey  • 9 months ago

    Short and simple answer. It helped me to figure out the situation on my new tech site. Thanks a lot.

  2. Freddy G. Cabrera
    Freddy G. Cabrera  • 9 months ago

    Hey Joost!

    Permalinks are important to SEO. This is something new I have been learning lately. I don’t use any category in my links, but I think it depends on your niche and the variety of topic you share on your blog to use categories or not.

    The Yoast SEO tools work great when it comes to customizing permalinks. Great plugin!

    Thank you for sharing the value here!

    Best regards! :D

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 9 months ago

      Hi Freddy, thanks! You’re welcome :-)

  3. Apoorv
    Apoorv  • 9 months ago

    Making categories correctly and pointing each post in their categories through breadcrumbs as well as in URL structure is what I missed and regret now. Again changing the whole URL and subcategory structure is really very painful and time-taking now.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 9 months ago

      It is! Better get it right from the start, but that’s not always possible, we know!

  4. Paweł Kozłowski
    Paweł Kozłowski  • 9 months ago

    Great article! I think site urls structure is one of the most underestimated and biggest mistakes which many beginner SEOs do…

  5. Carsten Meiselbach
    Carsten Meiselbach  • 9 months ago

    Thanks for this good article. For my Blog “Happy Carb” i tried to set the most relevant topics ordered: first Recipes, than Low Carb, than Diabetes etc. I can tell this has an (positive) impact.

    One thing to note and to ask for Category and Tag-archives: there seems to be a change made in the last version of your SEO-Plugin. In the past, Archive pages could be set to No-Index for Page no. 2, 3 etc. First page of the Archive, for sure, was left to Index. Now, this setting seems to be gone. Question: do you suggest du still keep the No-Index for Page 2, 3 etc. of the Category or Tag-Archive or do you now recommend to leave this as Index,Follow?

    Big thanks for your efforts and great Plugin!
    Carsten

  6. James
    James  • 9 months ago

    Awesome article, thanks for sharing such an article

  7. Aayush Bhaskar Verma
    Aayush Bhaskar Verma  • 9 months ago

    Categories in rules are great. When re enable breadcrumbs,they really work great in favour of thr user. However, i feel if you haven’t done this at the beginning, changing the structure isn’t a right choice.

  8. Digember
    Digember  • 9 months ago

    I think the order of categories and sub-categories when we use them as breadcrumbs in search results. As we all know that breadcrumbs act as a rich-card content for Google. So, their correct order presents the clean structure for any site. Eg- Apps > Tools, Games > Arcade, SEO > Keywords, and many more examples.

  9. Godwin Akpan
    Godwin Akpan  • 9 months ago

    Pleas I want to have more traffic and back links…pleased what will I do

    • Tony lee
      Tony lee  • 9 months ago

      Run a full full SEO audit for your website first. Then correct all your On-page errors and go for off-page proceedings. Share interesting content about your page in several online platforms. A good content will surely get you more traffic, follow up methods like Bookmarking, Infographics, Blog post promotion and many more to generate huge traffic.

      • Willemien Hallebeek
        Willemien Hallebeek  • 9 months ago

        Hi Godwin, it’s hard to give you any advice without having seen your website. Perhaps you can go through these posts from Michiel to find out which strong and weak points your site has, that way you’ll know where to start improving. https://yoast.com/seo-audit-part-1/


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