The better the structure of a site, the more likely it is to have better positions in search engines. In a way, every site has an “architecture”. It could be a rigorous and logical architecture or it could be a total mess.
In this article, we thought we would share some of the best tips on creating a strong site structure. The tips below will help you create an attractive site, easily accessible and indexable by spiders and performing in the first pages of Google.
The structure of the site is essential for SEO
From the experience of dozens of optimization campaigns, we were surprised by how often the structure of the site is overlooked. Even though it is one of the most important aspects of a site’s performance, I have found few webmasters and site owners who understand what it means to have a site structure that helps SEO.
A good site architecture means an extraordinary user experience
When you remove colors, fonts, graphics, images and white space, the good design of the site comes down to an excellent site architecture.
The human mind appreciates cognitive balance – being able to logically put the pieces together, find things where they expect them to be and find what they are looking for. Thus, a strong and logical structure of the site is cognitively satisfactory for users.
As you know, the more attractive your site is to users, the more attractive it is to search engines. Google’s algorithms use information from users to rank a site. If your site has low CTRs and has a short time on site (the customer spends little time on the site – for various reasons: poor content, low loading speed, etc.) it will have little chance of getting leading positions in search engines.
Conversely, when a user finds a site they like – more precisely a site with an excellent structure – it does not bounce and spends more time on the site. An accurate site architecture can thus reduce the rejection rate and increase the “time on site” indicator, both of which lead to improved positioning.
A correct site architecture helps to display the site links
Sitelinks are a display format in the SERP which, in addition to the home page, also presents other pages of our site. Normally those most important pages of the site are presented – the importance of those pages is given by the very structure of the site.
I’m sure you’ve seen them before and liked them.
Sitelinks are a great SEO advantage. They increase the site’s navigability, directing users to the most relevant information, increase brand reputation, improve user confidence, help you take up more space on the first page of Google, increase click-through rate and conversion rate.
In a word, sitelinks are incredible for both SEO and users.
But how do you get these sitelinks? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work to simply use Google webmaster tools and fill in a few fields in a form. You cannot submit a sitelink request.
Instead, Google’s algorithm automatically rewards sites with sitelinks, under certain conditions, of course. And, you guessed it, Google needs a very good site structure to choose to display these site links.
If you have a poor site structure, it is very likely that the site will never receive site links. The absence of sitelinks could cost your site more targeted traffic, a higher CTR value and increased conversions.
A correct structure of the site helps a better crawling
Internet spiders like Googlebot access and analyze the structure of a website. Their goal is to index the content to return in the results of future user searches. The better the structure of the site, the easier it is for spiders to access and index the content of a site.
Spiders do not automatically discover all the pages in a site. Google even admits that there are “pages” on the site that it may not discover or even URLs that may not be discovered by the normal crawling process of Google. Google will need a much shorter time to crawl and crawl the pages of a site with a strong structure.
The logical structuring of the site is right in the center of SEO optimization for search engines.
To summarize, how your site is organized paves the way for SEO success. In fact, we can even say that without a good site structure, you will never be successful SEO. A strong site structure means an indestructible SEO foundation that can help you get important organic traffic.
6 Steps to create the site structure
Now, here’s what you need to know to create an optimal architecture for your site.
Establish a clear hierarchy before developing your site.
If you start a site from scratch, you are in an excellent position to plan the structure of the site for the best possible SEO. Just before you start creating pages in a CMS, plan your structure. You can do this on a whiteboard, a spreadsheet program (Excel, Google Drive spreadsheets), most word processors, or something similar to Visio or OmniGraffle.
A “hierarchy” is nothing more than a way to organize your information – something that is simple and meaningful. Your hierarchy will also become the menu and structure of URLs, so everything important starts here.
In general, a hierarchy of the site looks like this:
There are some features of the hierarchy that you should keep in mind.
Make sure the hierarchy is logical. Don’t think too much or complicate this process. You want simplicity, both for your own reasons and for the ease of use of crawlers and users. Each main category must be unique and distinct. Each subcategory must refer to the main category in which it is located.
Keep the main categories numbers between two and seven. If you are not Flipkart, you do not want to have too many main categories. There should be only a few main things. If you have more than seven, you may want to rethink the structure and shrink it.
Try to balance the number of subcategories in each category. Basically, try to think them approximately equal. If one main category has fourteen subcategories, while another main category has only three subcategories, it could become a little unbalanced.
The site hierarchy is the starting point for an excellent site structure.
Create a URL structure that follows the navigation hierarchy.
The second main element in developing a strong site structure is the structure of the URL. If you have thought of the hierarchy logically, this should not be too difficult. The URL structure naturally follows established hierarchy.
So let’s say your hierarchy looks like this:
The URL structure will be organized according to the hierarchy of the site. This obviously means that URLs will have real keywords (not symbols) and adequate keyword coverage.
Create site navigation in HTML or CSS
Use a navigation structure with few hierarchical levels
The navigation structure will obviously follow the hierarchy of the site. Make sure that the pages, especially the important ones, are not “buried” too deep inside the site. The size of the sites works better, both from a usage perspective and from a crawler perspective.
A site that requires three or fewer clicks to reach any page is more preferable than a website that requires a long series of clicks to see each page on that site.
Create a menu that displays only the main navigation pages
The main menu should only display the main pages and that’s it. Our site, https://blog.apptians.com, uses a very simple menu, with 6 subcategories. And these are exactly what we need.
Adding any other menu items outside the main categories can become confusing and unnecessary.
While dropdown menus that use CSS effects or disappearing menus may provide a unique or interesting experience for users, but do not help SEO. Our advice is to think twice before making the decision to implement such a menu. Also, avoid using an image-based navigation structure. Text links combined with the right anchors offer the best advantage for SEO optimization.
If you have a footer that contains links, make sure you put the links in the main menu here as well. Be careful not to change the order of the links or add additional categories, as you risk upsetting the user experience.
Development of a strong and logical internal link-ing
The internal structure of links or rather the linking of the pages between them is necessary because
- They allow users to navigate the site more easily.
- Helps to establish the hierarchy of information/pages in the site.
- Helps to transmit link authority (link juice in terms of SEO) to all pages on the site.
Each of these is directly related to creating a cohesive site structure.
The differences between a weak internal linking and a strong one
No need to complicate the internal linking part. The basic idea from which you should start is that each page on the site should have links and links from another page on the site. The main menu should be linked to the main categories and subcategories, but you should make sure that the less important pages (product pages in an online store) have internal links.
Internal links tell search engines which pages are important and how to get there. The more internal links you have on all pages, the better.
The structure of the site must be the result of increased attention, of a precise organization and last but not least of a perfect design. The best time to develop the site structure is before you create it. However, there are many improvements you can make and go through. You can resize and reorganize some navigation elements at any time to improve the SEO structure.
There are a lot of things to keep in mind when optimizing your site for search engines. The structure of the site is one of the most important, but one of the most often ignored optimization methods.
If you have a strong site structure, then SEO results will come naturally.
What advice do you have for improving the structure of a site?