Top Tips For Creating An SEO-Friendly Site Structure
If you’re looking for strong performance from your SEO strategy, you need a strong website structure. The two are inextricably linked and if top spots in the search engine rankings are on your radar, you will need a solid site structure.
Unfortunately, the significance of site structure in SEO is often overlooked and many websites are built without proper planning. In this article, you’ll discover important ways to create an SEO-friendly site structure to ensure that your website is loved by both users and the search engines.
What is an SEO-Friendly Site Structure
First of all, let’s set the background for the article by explaining what site structure is and why it is important to SEO.
Site structure is about the way the pages are organised and how they are connected to one another. It’s about the pathways between them and how the navigation between the various pages is managed. Think of it as a ‘family tree’ with the home page at the top and all the different pages cascading beneath.
A clearly defined site structure is crucial for SEO success because it provides Google with important information about your website. The search engine’s bots and crawlers scan the content on websites to index them, but they don’t necessarily investigate every single page.
Well-executed structure makes it so much easier for the search engine bots to access, crawl and index your site and will give you a better chance at a higher ranking in the SERPs.
User experience is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor, and a site with good navigation and clear categories, products, news, blogs etc will be much more appealing to visitors. They will be able to see at a glance what your site is all about and find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
Good site structure also increases your chances of getting sitelinks. These can be a powerful element of SEO, helping to distinguish your site from others in the SERPs, increasing traffic and boosting conversions, but Google doesn’t dish these out very easily. You need a comprehensive site structure to be in the running to attract Google’s attention and be rewarded with sitelinks.
Creating An SEO-Friendly Site Structure
Here are the top eight tips for creating an SEO friendly site structure.
1. Establish your site hierarchy
Before you start creating any pages, you should plan your site from the ground up – just as you would if you were building a home. Set the foundation before starting the construction and keep things simple. Look for a logical flow from main, overarching categories (don’t go overboard on these) to sub-categories and individual pages. Always keep in mind the user experience and prioritise your key sections – but remember not to overcomplicate the navigation.
2. Organise your URL structure logically
URL structure is a vital aspect of an SEO-friendly website. It impacts your Google rankings and can help your website’s online visibility and drive traffic.
URLs are linked to your site hierarchy and should follow your categories and subcategories logically. Basically, your URL will mirror the progression of your website by featuring the order of the folders. The main aim is to create a concise URL that contains recognisable terms that searchers will recognise and which encourages them to click on your site, so remember to use proper words and not anonymous folders and numbers.
Spot the difference:
No prizes for guessing which URL is better! And having keywords in your URL will also help your SEO.
3. Choose the right navigational depth
If your structure is too deep, you run the risk of your key pages being buried too far beneath the subcategories. This will irritate your visitors and confuse the search engine crawlers, which will negatively impact your SEO.
It’s about finding the perfect balance between depth and breadth. You don’t want a flat structure, but don’t be tempted to overdo the number of categories. Your visitors need choices but they only want a few steps to get there.
4. Pay attention to the Menu
The menu is the main navigation element on your website. Many users start their journey into your website from the menu and it needs to be highly visible and feature all the important sections.
Depending on the type of site and its architecture, there can be more than one menu. For example, a large e-commerce site may have one menu for information relating to the company, its delivery and returns policies, FAQs, contact details etc and another for product information. This should include the main categories as well as sub-categories.
5. Include some ‘breadcrumbs’
A clear navigation path is a must for SEO and for the user experience and breadcrumbs are an important element of this.
Breadcrumbs are clickable links that are visible at the top of a webpage or a post. They’re basically like a signpost, displaying the structure of the site and showing visitors the order of the steps that they took to get to that particular page.
Breadcrumb navigation is not only helpful to users, it elevates SEO performance too. They are a positive signal for the search engines because they help bots understand your site’s hierarchy.
6. Have a strong internal linking strategy
Internal links highlight the relationship between the various pages and content on your site. The aim is to increase dwell-time on your site as well as help the bots understand which content you want to promote.
However, it’s important to have a well-thought out strategy and avoid inserting multiple links which result in you competing with your own content on the search engines. For example, if you run a digital marketing agency and have published many blog posts about different aspects of the industry, it’s best to choose one internal link which then alerts Google to the page or content that you deem most important.
As always, content is king when it comes to Google rankings and SEO and so you need to make sure that the text you use on the link and the surrounding content is relevant, original and meaningful.
7. Create a sitemap
An XML sitemap is a must. It is a huge help for Google in crawling and indexing your site and understanding the hierarchy of pages.
Building a solid site structure can be a challenge but it has a huge impact on the visibility of your site and the user experience that it offers. An SEO-friendly site structure should be the overarching strategy for the construction of any new website because it really will set the framework for greater visibility in the search engines, increased traffic, more conversions and a superior user experience.
Found these tips useful? Then you’ll probably be interested in The SEO School, a new online self-managed course which unpacks all the key elements of SEO. Participants get hands-on instruction and implement their own SEO strategy as they progress through the modules. Find out more by emailing the course designer, Perth SEO expert Karen Dauncey at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting The SEO School.
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