Website structure is an important part of SEO or search engine optimization. A website structure includes the organization of your web pages and content. It also deals with how various pieces of content on your website are linked and presented to the users. A good website structure can make it easy for your users and search engines to navigate your website. This helps in improving your overall SEO efforts.
If you are about to launch a new website or want to redesign the existing one, you should focus on creating a solid website structure. In this article, we will discuss why website structure is important for SEO and how you can create one.
How Does Website Structure Impact SEO?
There are many ways in which your site structure can impact your SEO efforts. Here are some reasons why your website structure is important.
Site crawlability is an important part of any website structure. Search engine crawlers have one goal and that is to find and index new web content. These crawlers go through web pages and follow links just like a normal user would. Crawlability is a search engine’s ability to crawl through a website’s content and figure out what it is all about. It navigates through subpages and specific topics to understand your website and its content.
A web page needs to take the user somewhere else on a website. There should be no dead end for crawlers while navigating your website. Hence, you need to add internal links that can help crawlers to navigate your website.
For easy navigation users should be able to go from one page to another with only a few clicks. This is especially important if your website is large with numerous pages. Internal linking helps you do just that. It helps both users and search engines find a page easily and organize various content to maintain a smooth flow. Internal links allow search engines to crawl pages easily. You can use keywords in your content and link them to other relevant content. Search engines are able to find all these other pages through these keywords.
When search engines see that you have covered all elements of a particular topic, it increases your chances to rank better on the search results page. In addition, visitors are able to find your content easily, which improves user experience.
Another way how website structure affects SEO is through URLs. URLs are the foundation of an effective site hierarchy and help the users navigate through the website. The best URL structure should be easy to read by the search engines and users. URLs need to contain the target keywords so that they are relevant to the user’s search query. This is a great way to optimise your content and show up for specific search queries.
Effect URL structure can help you build your website hierarchy and organise it. You can also submit an XML sitemap with all your important URLs to search engines which can help you rank better. URL structure should be simple and easy to read by search engines and users.
HTTPS helps encrypt the connection between a browser and a website so that no one can intercept the data sent between the two. This ensures website security and user’s data is secure. HTTPS is important for websites that want to upgrade to a new and safer internet protocol. Google considers site security as an important part of user experience to help boost rankings. HTTPS creates a better user experience, protects the user’s information and provides improved data in Google Analytics.
The main advantage of website structure is that it can create a better user experience. When anyone visits your website, they should be able to find information easily. If a visitor lands on a poorly structured website, they will not interact with it and exit quickly. In this day and age, where there are so many options available for consumers, nobody wants to waste time on websites that do not function smoothly.
User experience helps users navigate through your website seamlessly. They will know where exactly to find the information they are looking for. A good website structure can guide users to the right pages that provide them with useful information. Moreover, a great user experience can help improve your SEO. Things like user interaction, bounce rate, time spent on a website, etc. are taken into account by Google for ranking. Conversely, a poor user experience tells Google that a page may not be credible and relevant to the search query.
Content Topics and Keywords
Keyword and content research plays an important role in building your website. It helps you understand your audience and what information they are looking for. This ensures that you incorporate these topics into your website structure.
When users look for information that they find on your website it boosts engagement and creates a better user experience. A great website provides its users with the information they need, and ensures that the most important content is high-quality, optimized and central to the website structure.
Without a proper website structure, you may end up creating duplicate content for a topic. Duplicate content results into you competing with yourself for rankings on search engines. This is also known as keyword cannibalization. You may end up creating content for similar topics. This negatively affects your search engine rankings as duplicate content can be seen as spam. With website structure you can categorize your content to help you see which topics are already covered. You can create unique content that gives you an opportunity to rank higher on search engine results pages.
A good website structure also provides a great experience for mobile users. Although mobile is part of design, a website should be structured to serve mobile users. Ensure that you consider mobile when you are building your website structure or it can cost more time and money later.
Site Speed and Performance
A website’s structure should provide a fast user experience or your performance will suffer. Slow sites can impact the performance of your website. If you have slow page downloads, unresponsive pages or any other issues that make user’s wait, it will result in a poor user experience.
Even if you have great content but a slow website it can cost you your traffic and page views. Slow site speed increases bounce rate where users leave your site without taking any action. Ensure that when you are building your website you discuss with your web developer or IT professionals to choose the best mobile and website structure that is fast.
How to Build a Strong Website Structure?
Plan your website hierarchy
The most important step is to plan your website structure. You can start by defining your topic clusters and pillar page for each cluster. Then you can build relevant content for each topic. Pillar page is the authority page for the main topic you want to rank for. For pillar pages choose broad topics which gives you an opportunity to expand on these topics through relevant subtopics. The subtopics should be linked to the relevant pillar page.
Topic clusters help you give structure to your website. Create a simple hierarchy that is easy for both visitors and search engines to navigate. When planning your website structure think about the ease and convenience of your audience.
Analyze the structure of your competitor’s website
Planning your website structure can seem intimidating. To get some ideas on this you can take a look at your competitor’s website. This will not only give some great ideas but also show you audience preference. If your competitors are ranking high on search engine pages, it means they are doing something right. It shows that your competitor’s website is doing well from an SEO perspective. Take inspiration at how they organize their pages and content. Look at how their website is structured, and the categories they have. This inspiration will help you get started with your own plan.
Go for a flat navigation structure
Navigation structure of a website shows how different pages are organized and connected to each other. You can use flat or deep navigation hierarchies to arrange your information. Flat hierarchies have few layers (usually 1-3) and fewer subcategories. Whereas deep navigation has more layers (4 or more) and subcategories. Deep navigation structures are more complex. With a flat navigation structure, you ensure that users can find the desired page with a few clicks. Hence, it is always better to go for a flat navigation structure that can make it easy for visitors to access your content.
If you already have a problem with depth in your website structure, then analyze it. Take a look at how many clicks it requires for a visitor to view a particular page. Ensure that you don’t have any page more than 6 clicks away. Important pages should not be hidden too deeply in your website. Flat navigation structure can make your pages easy to crawl and create a better user experience.
Image from Kinsta
Map out your navigation menu
Plan out your navigation menu that helps users get to the most important pages quickly. These pages are main categories which will include subcategories. What type of other elements you want to include in your menu depends on your website. For example, an ecommerce website may have a complex navigation menu if they sell a variety of products. On the other hand, a B2B business may have a few categories related to their products or services. It all depends on what type of business you have.
If you are just getting started with building your website and you have minimal products or services, keep it simple. Do not create complex navigation menus that hold many distractions for your users. Also, include a simple navigational footer with a few subcategories.
Create properly structured URLs
The structure of your URLs depends on site hierarchy. Once you have planned out your site hierarchy, creating structured URLs can be easier. For example, a pillar page on your website has a cluster page in subcategory so the URL would look something like this, yourdomain.com/pillar/cluster-page/. This is not the only method to structuring URLs. Structuring URLs is a way of keeping them relevant to the topics. The URLs follow the structure of your website and show victors and crawl bots where they are on your website.
Keyword research is important to complete a site structure. Conduct a keyword research to find out the search volume and competition for keywords related to your business. Select broad or general keywords for your top-level pages or pillar page. Then you can look at more detailed or specific search terms for subtopics or topic clusters. Categorizing keywords in such a way can help you create a content hierarchy.
The complexity of a site structure depends on the size of a website. Bigger websites can have complex structures, while smaller ones can have simple structures. Website structure impacts the performance of your SEO efforts. Hence, it is important to spend your time and resources to develop your website structure that can help improve your SEO performance.