Streamlining Your Website Structure: Insights From Google’s John Mueller

3 min read

John Mueller of Google offers suggestions for streamlining the structure of websites. Learn the advantages of designating the root homepage as x-default and why moving subdirectories isn’t advised.


John Mueller of Google provides information about how altering a site’s structure affects SEO.

It is advised to keep subdirectories the same to simplify a website’s structure.

Mueller adds that you can prevent confusion among search engines by making the root homepage the x-default.


Before altering your website’s structure, assessing its potential influence on search rankings and user experience is crucial.

A Google Search Advocate, John Mueller, offered pertinent insights on this matter within a Reddit discussion. His suggestions provide a roadmap to streamline your website structure while preserving SEO integrity.

Explore Mueller’s guidance to grasp methods for simplifying your website architecture without compromising its search engine optimization.

Delve into Mueller’s recommendations and their potential to aid in achieving your website’s simplification objectives.



Is Removing Subdirectories a Wise Move?



A Reddit user inquired about streamlining their website structure by phasing out /fr and /de subdirectories, proposing to funnel all European traffic to the /eu subdirectory. They sought insights on whether this strategy would benefit or harm SEO and rankings.

John Mueller weighed in on this, advising against eliminating the subdirectories and consolidating everything under /eu. He highlighted the extensive effort involved in this process without any substantial benefits.


Mueller recommended a different approach: relocating “/” (en-us) into a “/us” folder for more refined segmentation. This adjustment would create a more precise delineation—”/” for US content, “/fr/*” for French content, etc.


Furthermore, he suggests implementing hreflang across all pages, not solely on sections, mainly targeting pages that often need clarification due to incorrect country visits.

“I’d advise against shifting /de & /fr into /eu/de or /eu/fr. There’s no SEO advantage to be gained from this, and such site migrations entail significant effort. If anything, I might consider relocating “/” (en-us) into a “/us” folder. This would ensure clearer segmentation (‘/us/’ for US content, ‘/fr/*’ for French, etc.), aiding in tracking and enhancing search engines’ comprehension of sections, unlike the complexity involved in moving /fr into /eu/fr, which complicates section understanding even further.

Moreover, hreflang operates per page, so its implementation should encompass all pages. If you’re currently addressing sections appropriately, this is a comprehensive reminder. However, if it’s only applied to some pages, it’s worth examining statistics for the pages frequented by visitors from the wrong country. Focusing efforts on adding hreflang to those pages, including the homepage, where most confusion may arise, could significantly amplify the value of hreflang implementation.


You’re discussing the intricacies of handling geo-IP redirects, particularly about specifying the x-default attribute for the homepage and its impact on Google’s understanding of different country-specific pages. This advice aligns with best practices for international SEO and managing multilingual or multinational websites.

The x-default tag serves as a signal to search engines, notably Google, to designate the default version of a page for users in countries where specific localized versions might not exist. This is crucial in preventing Google from considering the root homepage as a separate page from country-specific versions.

Setting the root homepage as the x-default ensures that Google recognizes it as the default version for unspecified or unsupported countries. Without this specification, Google might treat the root homepage and localized versions as separate entities, potentially leading to multiple versions appearing in search results for users in those unspecified regions.

For instance, if “/us” is the localized version for the US and “/fr” is for France, setting “/us” as the x-default for “/fr” might confuse Google into displaying both the root homepage and “/fr” in search results for users in France.

However, it’s crucial to note that these practices are generally recommended only for the homepage due to their complexity. Managing multiple x-defaults and hreflang attributes for various pages throughout a website can become cumbersome and challenging to maintain accurately.

Ultimately, this strategy optimizes the visibility of the homepage, which typically receives the most search impressions, while ensuring Google correctly understands and displays the relevant localized versions for different countries in search results.



Streamlining Geo-Redirects for Homepage Optimization



Mueller emphasizes limiting geo-redirects solely to the main homepage of a website, avoiding their use on other pages. This strategy aims to simplify user experiences when visitors enter the domain, automatically directing them to the most relevant version based on their location. It also enables easy access to alternative country versions by providing clickable options.

While geo-redirects are effective, alternative methods exist, such as dynamically adjusting the language on the homepage. However, implementing such a solution can introduce additional intricacies and complexities to the website structure.

Another approach involves incorporating a country-picker on the homepage. Yet, this method might compromise usability, especially if there’s an extensive list of countries to select from, potentially overwhelming visitors. Balancing functionality and simplicity remains crucial in optimizing user experiences when employing geo-targeting techniques.


If you still need help understanding everything, look at our monthly SEO packages and let the professionals assist you.

Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]