The URL structure of a website refers to the group of dynamic or static web page addresses where different content of functionality can be accessed, as well as the relationship between them culminating in a hierarchical layout.
Parts of this structure can be open to members only and protected with passwords, while other parts can be open to the public (whomever that is in the context of the network). While technically even the URLs only accessible by site administrators are part of this structure, since they lend themselves to maintaining the website and its functionality instead of actually presenting web pages where end-users can use these very functions, they are usually not in mind when the phrase “URL Structure” is uttered–but they should be.
To avoid confusion, one can divide the URL structure of a website into three distinct types:
- Public that includes those pages that can be accessed by everyone on the network (intranet or internet)
- Private that includes those URLs, access to which requires some type of authentication e.g. passwords, certificates, etc.
- Administrative that includes those addresses which are meant for administrators, not users of the website
The public URL structure of an internet website is quite important and valuable as it is the group of unique addresses that search engines, social networks and people use to access various pieces of the website.
One or more of these structure can be put together to create what is referred to as a “sitemap,” which is a representation of the URL structure of a website in HTML usually. It helps give context and depth to one’s understanding of a website’s content and functionality. Some search engines accept sitemaps as a guide to the website, to help them better understand and catalog the different web pages within.