Site structure is one of the most important characteristics of your website. Find out how to design the ideal SEO-friendly architecture for your site.
SEO Site Structure: What You Need to Know
Author: Oliwia Zawadzka, Content Writer
When it comes to SEO, one of the most important things you can do for your website is to organise it in a cohesive and logical way, or in other words, have a good site structure.
Gone are the days in which you could just add a bunch of content to your website without thinking much about it – with the evolution of the Google algorithm, site architecture has become of utmost importance and a factor that can determine whether your pages will rank.
In this article, I will talk about what site structure is, how a good site structure can benefit your website, as well as provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to achieve site architecture that you can be proud of.
What Is Site Structure?
Site structure (or site architecture) is the way your website is designed and how specific pages, such as homepage, core landing pages, blog posts, navigation pages etc are connected with each other.
Most websites often will have hundreds, if not thousands of pages filled with content on a variety of topics, some more connected with each other than others. Site structure helps you organize these pages so that you can provide your visitors with the best user experience.
Why Is Site Structure Important
Website structure is crucial not only for users but also for search engines such as Google – although for different reasons.
The Importance for Users
Site structure is important for visitors to your website as it helps improve navigability. If a user has to deal with a website that is unorganised and on which they can’t seem to find anything, chances are that they will abandon it and look for what they need on another page. Poor navigation can lead to them forming a negative opinion about your business/website and not being willing to come back.
The Importance for Search Engines
As much as user experience is important, a good site structure is also significant for search engines, and there are a few reasons why:
- It improves the crawlability and indexability of your website. The further away a page is from the homepage, the higher chances are that Googlebot will either have a difficult time getting to it or that it won’t reach it at all.
- It increases PageRank. When you link one page with another, you are passing the link authority, increasing the chances of the page appearing in the search results.
- It can result in the ranking page appearing with sitelinks. Good site structure increases the chances of other pages that Google feels are important appearing on the search results together with the main ranking page.
It helps prevent a situation where you will be competing against yourself. If you’ve been writing for a while, or have a lot of writers in your team, chances are that you have a few articles that revolve around the same topic, even though they might be looking at it from different perspectives or with different aspects in mind. So, how is Google supposed to know which one is the most important and should be displayed on the search results page? It can’t, unless you send a clear message.
Flat vs. Deep Site Architecture
There are two main types of site architecture – flat site architecture and deep site architecture.
When a website has a flat architecture, it means that it takes a maximum of four clicks to get to any of its pages.
A deep website structure comprises websites that have pages that are more than four clicks away from the homepage.
Generally speaking, a flat site architecture is preferred as it makes it easier for Googlebot to reach as many of the most important pages as possible. Whereas, with a deep site architecture, some pages can be overlooked. Not to mention that it also ensures that the users will be able to reach the page they are looking for without looking too far.
How to Design the Ideal Site Structure
An ideal site structure should resemble a pyramid, with the homepage being on top, followed by category pages or main content pieces (also known as silo pages) and ending on individual pages.
So, for instance, let’s say that you have a culinary blog and would like to improve its site architecture.
Here is how it would look:
- Homepage – links to what you think are the most important pages that you have on your site.
- From your homepage, people should be able to navigate towards categories. So, in this instance, the categories could be, for example, dinner ideas, breakfast recipes, lunch ideas or you can go in a completely different direction and have the website categorised by the origin of the dishes, so Italian, Spanish, Mexican, French, German, etc. It’s all up to you.
- Lastly, the category pages should lead to individual pages, or in this case recipes or blog posts.
Another often overlooked part of SEO are the URLs. They are actually a ranking factor, so not paying attention to them can lead to your pages having a lower position than they would if their URLs were optimised in accordance with Google – and what Google says about them, is that they should be as simple as possible.
So, how do you come up with a good URL? Here’s a short cheat sheet with what a great URL structure is like:
- User-friendly – URLs shouldn’t be too long or complicated, especially since they might put off users. Keep in mind that Google displays them next to your ranking page, so it’s one of the first things your potential visitors will see.
- Contains keywords – if it’s possible, add the keyword you’re trying to rank for to the URL.
- Concise – the URL should be concise so that after looking at it the search engines such as Google can get an understanding of what your page contains.
- Has correct punctuation – when separating the words in your URL you shouldn’t be using underscores – instead, you should be using hyphens so that it will be more readable.
Consistent – if you decide on one URL structure, you should be using it across your whole website.
The Bottom Line
A good website structure is crucial not only for your visitors but also for search engines – after all, you probably want to avoid a situation where one of your pages is not crawled and indexed by Googlebot.
If you need help building your website’s architecture, or are looking for an SEO partner, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
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