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SEO and Directory Depth Factors

Posted on 3.06.2011

In honor of our most recent cover story on the modern elements of search engine optimization, it would prove useful to do a few case studies over the next few days to identify some of the other core elements of SEO that may have been addressed sparingly in the article. Today let's look at how depth might affect a number of factors as it relates to placement on search results pages by the major search engines. 

What we are ultimately trying to find out in a current analysis of depth in relation to SEO is whether it is best to place optimized pages higher in the site architecture or lower and within subdirectories (which obviously provides opportunities to present relevance cues to both search engines and users in the form of keywords).

The keyword in question (Easter gifts for children) is both timely and modestly competitive. Keep in mind that it is likely that results will vary, but there is something definitely to analyze here.

Google and the Depth/Architecture Factor: Based on our evaluation, there is no evidence that Google favors pages that are included extensive directory systems or structures. Within the first 30 results, 43 percent of pages returned could be found within the root directory, 26 percent were found one directory level deep, 13.3 percent were two levels deep, 6.6 percent were three levels deep, and 10 percent were  four levels deep. 

Bing and the Depth/Architecture Factor: The same holds true for the Bing index: it does not seem to favor sites with extensive structures. Within the first 30 results, 50 percent of pages were found in the root directory (80 percent in the top 10 results), 23 percent were found one directory level deep, 20 percent were two levels deep, and 6 percent were found three levels deep. 

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