If you’ve spent time on the internet, you’ve probably noticed that many websites have pretty similar structures. However, their navigation may not be entirely clear. When users and bots expect web pages at certain URLs, your site layout and navigation may not accommodate them.
By monitoring URLs accessed across many of our websites, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency has found that there are a considerable amount of people manually typing in URLs to try to find a certain page if they can’t find it in the navigation. We also polled a variety of different webmasters and users to ask them what URLs they expected to see.
The most common page for almost every site is the About page. This page should have information such as an office location, brief details about the company and possible bio information about the staff. It’s a place for miscellaneous information about the company and gives users a way to contact the company or find out key information about the business.
While many sites have a separate Contact page, I prefer to keep them on the same page. Generally, I find that two pages should not serve the same function — if you’re putting location, phone or other contact information on an About Us page, why not centralize it? Less forms, less maintenance — and one better-centralized user experience.
Expected URLs: /about-us/, /about/, /contact/, /contact-us/
What should you do about it?: If you don’t have one already, you should certainly create an About Us page. If you have a lot of information on it, it may make sense to make a separate page for Contact Us. If you have only one location just add some short content, some outbound links, the contact information and perform 301 redirects for all Expected URLs to the current URL for that page.
If you sell products, you should make sure that the expected URLs for your shop and products make sense. For some brands, merchandise might not be your website’s main function — let’s say, for instance, a sports team selling jerseys. For others, it may be the entire focus of the website.
When possible, the shop should not exist on another domain. This dilutes the quality of your website by spreading backlinks and resources to another domain, thus weakening the potential of your main site.
Expected URLs: /shop/, /merch/, /products/
What should you do about it?: Regardless of how important products are to your site, you should make sure that you redirect the above URLs to where your cart is and — if possible — make your products exist on one. Some engines, such as Shopify, don’t let you move this, but you can add redirects for other URLs to point to their built-in one.
If you’re a service-based business, you likely have pages for your services on your website. Some websites have them all listed on one page. Others have them spread among several pages. Let’s say you’re a landscaping company — you probably have a ton of different services you offer! But when a user can’t find the full list of services you offer, where do they try to navigate to? Our studies show that the URL /services/ is the most popular and well-received landing page for the listing of your services.
We find a lot of our clients benefit from having an industry-specific URL for their services page, i.e. /landscaping-services/. This is also acceptable and has a great opportunity to add some keyword relevance to your page’s slug!
It’s also possible to find pages such as “/what-we-do/” — or something else that’s a little bit more human-like. If you find that this works for your brand and SEO strategy, there’s no reason to say that this is unacceptable.
Expected URLs: /services/
What should you do about it?: If you have no universal landing page for your service listings, make one immediately! If you already have one but it lives on another URL, such as pain-management-services, make sure you redirect /services/ to it — just in case a user types it in manually. If you don’t sell merchandise or have products, the expected URLs from an e-commerce site should also be redirected to your services page.
Even if you’re not hiring, it’s important to have a careers page. The search term “Salesforce Careers” is Salesforce.com’s fifth-most visited search query. You could be leaving a ton of search volume on the table by excluding a careers page.
While these organic visits may not necessarily mean more conversions for you, it does mean that the talented workforce that is eligible for employment may be able to find you — and you won’t have to spend as much on recruiting.
It’s very common to find the jobs listings under /careers/, but often it can be found under a subdomain or a subdirectory, such as jobs.thriveagency.com, or thriveagency.com/about/work-for-us/.
Expected URLs: /jobs/, /careers/, /work/, /employment/, /apply/
What should you do about it?: Even if you outsource your careers page to another site, you should create a /careers/ page and redirect all the above URLs to it. If you have a careers page already, you should make sure that all the above URLs redirect to it. If your careers link isn’t very clearly found, /careers/ is the No. 1 guess by site visitors for that page, according to our research.
During the last decade, nearly every new website has added a blog. Recent studies showed that approximately 60% of websites use WordPress, which has a built-in blog function.
While RSS readers haven’t been very popular in the last few years, the /feed/ URL is still very commonly used by podcasts, news outlets and blogs to export their content posts to third-party aggregators. Not many users will come to this URL, but bots very commonly will.
Expected URLs: /feed/, /feed.xml
What should you do about it?: If you have any sort of blog, podcast, media feed or news section, it should have an RSS feed attached to it. If it installs the feed link somewhere else, make sure that /feed/ redirects to it. This allows users and bots who may not be able to find the link immediately to locate the most common access point to it.
Even if you don’t host events, a lot of people and bots search for events pages on sites! This can range from special sales to hiring events to events that you or your company may be sponsoring.
Expected URLs: /events/, /classes/, /sales/ (in some cases)
What should you do about it?: If you don’t already have an events or sales page, you should immediately make one. Every site’s will be different, but if you don’t have any events or sales coming up introduce the purpose of the page and maybe throw in some good links to important resources on the site. If you have an e-commerce platform that allows for a filter for “on-sale,” you can also redirect /events/ to that URL instead.
While we didn’t find many users who tried to navigate to /coupons/ manually, we did find a lot of search volume for coupon-related searches that didn’t return to our websites. Why? Well, because they didn’t have a coupons page!
SquareSpace coupons gets nearly 2,000 searches a month — could users be searching for coupons on your site?
Expected URLs: /sales/, /coupons/, /discounts/
What should you do about it?: Make a coupon page. If you don’t have active public discounts right now, this is a good place to list things such as a student discount, AAA discount, club membership or other ways to lower the price.
I really like the way that SquareSpace handles it. Their page shows a quick, easy-to-read message that states that this is the best discount you’ll find.
They don’t advertise it anywhere on the site, but if you Google “SquareSpace coupons” this is the first page on the list — no weird third-party sites, no having to sign up for affiliate marketing plans with coupon sites — just one, sturdy message.
Help, Support & FAQs
Sometimes, people have questions! You need to be ready to answer them.
It’s important to think about your users here, as some may try to find a Contact page when they really need support. It’s a tricky game! I suggest you make sure your About/Contact page links to your Help, Support or FAQs page — and vice versa.
In some select cases, it may even make sense to combine the Contact/About pages with the Help/FAQs pages entirely. You should try not to inundate users with information, but with proper navigation you can combine pages into more powerful user experiences. There’s a strong likelihood you can rank higher for that page as well! It’s a case-by-case basis.
FAQs pages should include things such as additional service prices, payment terms options, understanding the process of purchasing from you, estimated delivery times, how to return a product, etc. It should also include a system of informing you — the webmaster — if the support solution works for them. If not, you could be scaring customers away to another service or product!
Expected URLs: /faq/, /help/, /support/, /faqs/
What should you do about it?: Think critically about how your users need to access your support docs. If you’re a software company, there’s a really strong likelihood you’ll need to make a very simple and accessible support solution. There are a lot of services that already exist for this, so make sure you redirect any assumed URLs to the location of that service.
Make customer support as accessible as possible. This means easy-to-read docs, videos and a quick and easy option to get to a representative. Make sure you redirect any possible URLs to your help solution so users who navigate to the URLs manually get to the right spot.
I’ve Implemented All These Pages — What Next?
Actively monitor your 404s, error messages displayed by a browser indicating an internet address cannot be found. Are you getting direct traffic to pages that don’t exist?
If you’re running a WordPress site, you can use WP-Redirection to actively log 404s. Check out the URLs that come in to those. Are you seeing direct traffic to URLs that people assume exist but don’t? Set up redirects to make sure the proper attribution gets to the right page and help users find what they’re looking for — no matter what method they’re using to find it.
If you’re using other CMS systems, check for a plugin for that system that logs 404s. If not, talk to your web admin or webmaster to see if there’s a way to extract a log to study. Find opportunities to make new redirections that get users to where they want to be without making them manually find it themselves!
Lowering user frustration is a goal every webmaster should be looking to accomplish.
For more information about hiring the right digital marketing agency, contact Thrive Internet Marketing Agency at 866-434-4748 or online.