The file path (that is anything that comes after the .com / .co.uk, the TLD) is illustrative of where individual pages live in the file structure of your website.
If you’re running Windows, you probably have 4 folders you see all the time. Documents, Music, Pictures and Video. Lets say you have your iTunes folder living in Music. The file path of a particular track would be \Music\iTunes\Artists\Motorhead\Ace-Of-Spades.MP4
Most websites work in the same way. If your name was “John Doe”, the page about you on your website might live on a file path that looks like this: /About-Us/The-Team/John-Doe/
On the web the slashes are the other way round and most of the time we don’t have to include the file type initials (.php in the image at the top of this post, but it can be .html, .aspx, etc) but it’s the same principal. In the example above John Doe’s bio is a child of “The Team” folder, which is a child of the “About Us” folder.
What’s important for Search Engines?
Including the words for which you think each piece of content deserves to rank on search engines in the file path will help you get better rankings. For example, if you sell bee keeping supplies and you have a page about hives and sell hives from a shop your File Path to the pages might currently be along the lines of:
Which doesn’t tell Google anything!
With a few well aimed blows to your web developers head, that same file path could look like:
A lot more useful to Google!
Don’t go crazy though and try to win all the battles at once like this:
Because it is spammy. Google (quite rightly) doesn't like spam.
Computers don't like spaces, so if you leave spaces in your URLs they tend to look like this: Yourwebsite.com/shop/Bee%20Hives/Beginners%20Kit/
Which is not pleasing on the eye, hence we used hyphens as spaces in our previous examples. Don’t use underscores as a stand in for spaces between words – use hyphens. Watch this video to see why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQcSFsQyct8
What’s important for everyone else?
Much like Google and Bing, people prefer file paths that actually make sense, that aren’t too long and are easy to read.
For more info on making your web address work for SEO and for real humans, read the rest of our articles in: The Anatomy of a URL