Google has quickly become the search engine of choice for a vast number of internet browsers, requiring web developers to focus heavily on optimizing page visibility for Google’s crawlers. Ensuring quick access to every file on a site can mean more pages get indexed, allowing for better keyword results. Many developers focus on directory structure to enhance results, a practice that can make most sites, especially those containing hundreds or thousands of pages, easy to manage. Still, a directory must be more than a random organization of folders and files. Good directories improve indexing speed and provide an organizational structure to the site. Consider the following examples when organizing your site.

A news website may run as many as fifty new pages in a day. Certainly the site wants to maintain readership by allowing access to archived stories, even by having them show up in major search engines such as Google. While storing all of the files in the root directory may get them “crawled,” or, indexed by the search engine, they have no structure. As a result, it may be difficult for the webmaster, and subsequently the search engine, to keep close track of which pages have been indexed, and which require more links. The site may also suffer from congestion as browsers dig through thousands of files within the root directory to locate the single file that may be needed.

A site of this scale can benefit both internally and externally from good directory structure. Internally, the site can remain organized and easy to navigate for any updates or maintenance. Externally the site is more navigable, allowing accurate feedback about pages that require more links, or more clear links, to index properly. A solid directory structure can also provide searching by category name, giving browsers better chance to land at your site.

Implementing a complex directory can also raise several concerns. First, a site must designate a creator of, or agree upon, a directory structure. The directory structure must follow a logic that can be understood by anyone needing access to the site, not just the primary webmaster. As programmers change jobs or leave sites, directory logic may get lost or confused, and consequently difficult to manage. Another potential problem is then implementing a new system. A developer may devise a more accurate or logical directory structure than the current system. How do we migrate to the new system? Also, changing the directory structure, or parts of the directory, may require robust software, capable of making changes to entire branches of the directory at a time. Does your site have the resources to handle such a change?

As with many changes in web development technology, a directory structure must be implemented correctly to function effectively. Consider the depth and complexity of your directory, and consult with your webmasters to determine the best organizational structure. Be sure to have several individuals with intimate knowledge of the structure. Should you need to know or change the structure for any reason, your development team will be sure to have the tools to do so.

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