We've all heard the quote - failing to plan is planning to fail - right? Well, that applies everywhere, including website development and design. If you need your website to rank atop the search engine and attract visitors, you must pimp it with a well-planned structure. Your website should never be a disorganised page and post collection. Instead, it should be a well-laid-out hub of easily searchable content that both users and the search engine can navigate and understand.
In this comprehensive guide, we share some of the best little-known tips to create an irresistible site structure that will boost SEO. To kick us off, let's look at why a well-structured website is essential.
Why is Your Website Structure Crucial?
There are two primary reasons why you want to structure your website; for easier usability and find-ability. Structuring your website well creates a clear-cut road map for your visitors to find the information they're looking for effortlessly. You also want Google crawlers to navigate your pages easily and understand your content for better SEO. Let's explain further.
How to Create the Best Website Structure to Boost SEO
A Well-Structured Website Enhances User Experience (UX)
Imagine the amount of frustration your website visitors may have to bear for consistently failing to find the information they're looking for every time they click your site. If that's the case, you can rest assured the number of site visits will decrease, with some users going to the extent of leaving negative online reviews, and that's hugely detrimental to SEO.
As you may be aware, Google's algorithms primarily rely on the users' behaviour to rank your site. If it has below-par click-through rates and dwell time, it won't perform superbly in the SERPs. On the flip side, if visitors find the information they're seeking without struggle, i.e., your site has an excellent site structure, they'll stay longer and exit only after accomplishing their mission.
A Great Site Structure Leads to Better Scrawling
Google web crawlers often crawl websites to index their content and determine their search results ranking. Having a flawless site structure is overly beneficial to this course because it makes it easier for the crawlers to access and index your content.
Please note, however, that there's no guarantee that crawlers will automatically discover everything on your site. And Google even admits that some URLs or pages may not be discoverable during the typical crawling process. All the same, sites with more robust structures have the upper hand as it's more effortless to access, crawl, index and return the pages of well-structured sites, hence better rankings.
Superb Structuring Practices Provides Your Site with Sitelinks
Do you wish for people to have an all-inclusive view of your entire site from just a single spot? Structuring your website decently makes this a reality, as Google will provide sitelinks for that purpose. In case you're wondering, sitelinks are a listing format that portrays your website's main page along with critical internal links just below it.
Sitelinks are excellent SEO boosters as they cause lots of admirable advantages. These include enhancing site navigation, directing visitors to the most relevant content, shortening the conversion channel, improving click-through rates, dominating SERPs, elevating user trust, improving your brand reputation, and more.
But how can you get sitelinks? The short answer is that you don't get them - Google awards them automatically if you have a proper site structure. So the only gateway to sitelinks is improving your site's structure, and doing so means more targeted traffic, improved click-through rates, and higher conversions. Isn't that every website owner or digital marketer's dream?
Step-by-Step Procedure for Creating the Best Site Structure
Having understood the value a good site structure brings to usability and findability, the next stage is to discover how to create the best website structure to boost SEO. So let's get down to business!
1. Plan it Out
Planning is the foundation of any project - large or small alike. So the first step to creating a par-level structure is to plan out the hierarchy before developing the website. This gives you the upper hand to create the best structure, especially if you're starting the website from scratch. You may need such materials as a spreadsheet program (Google Sheets, Excel), whiteboard, or word processors for efficient planning.
Your site hierarchy displays your website's fundamental structure and governs practically every aspect, including how you organise your content in a manner that's simple and sensible. The hierarchy also adds up as your URL structure and navigation. As such, here are a few aspects you should keep in mind when planning out your site hierarchy:
- Make it logical. This isn't the place to overcomplicate or overthink matters; the goal is to keep everything overly simple for your understanding as well as the users' and crawlers'. In essence, each primary category should be unique and distinctive, and well defined. Likewise, each sub-category should connect to the primary category.
- Ensure to have 2-7 primary categories. Unless you intend to build a large online retail store, seven primary categories are adequate. If your site structure exceeds that number, that's a sign that you need to reorganise it and bring it down.
- Keep the number of sub-categories consistent with the primary categories. The critical point here is to try to keep them consistently even. For instance, if one category has ten sub-categories and the other only has three, your site structure risks becoming a bit unbalanced.
2. Develop a URL Structure that Aligns with Your Navigation Hierarchy
Creating a URL structure is the second step to developing an irresistible site structure. The good news is, this is often a no-brainer, especially if you paid keen attention to planning out the site hierarchy. You'll simply be following the site hierarchy.
Let's assume you want to create a URL structure for a managed IT services provider in Sydney. So your category will be, say, Sydney IT Services, and you can have sub-categories such as IT Services, Specialty Areas, Locations, About, and Contact Us. Under Locations, you may include Glebe, Paddington, and Randwick.
From that hypothetical layout, your URL structure for the Glebe service area would look like this:
The key takeaway here is that you need to organise your URL according to your site hierarchy. That means that the URL must contain actual words (not symbols) and the appropriate keywords if applicable.
3. Create Your Site Navigation in CSS or HTML
The navigation menu should be as simple to crawl by the search engine crawlers as possible. Website visitors also shouldn't have a difficult time navigating your site. That's why it's advisable to use the most straightforward coding languages - CSS and HTML.
4. Leverage a Shallow Depth Navigation Structure
A shallow depth navigation structure is where you ensure that your pages, more so the most critical ones, aren't profoundly buried in the site hierarchy. This approach works better not only for usability but also for effortless findability by the search engine crawlers.
In case you're wondering, a shallow website needs no more than three clicks to reach a page. It's far much better than a deep website that requires several clicks to get to every page - that may be detrimental to user experience.
5. Create a Header/Menu Listing Your Primary Navigation Pages
The best website structure should feature a top header or navigational footer listing all of the site's main pages. And if you must include the sub-categories, be sure to keep them highly minimal. However, we highly discourage it because adding other menu elements causes unnecessary distraction among users and crawlers.
Plus, you want to avoid dropdown menus with CSS effects like a plague. While they create a unique user experience, they add no value to SEO whatsoever. You also want to avoid image-based navigational structures. Instead, leverage well-anchored text links - they provide the best SEO.
6. Develop a Thorough Internal Linking Structure
The final step of creating the best website structure to boost SEO is to draft a comprehensive internal linking structure. Think of it as the perfect icing on your cake as it adds more taste to your already pimped-up site hierarchy. Here are the core reasons you want to include internal links to your site:
- They enable visitors to navigate your website broadly
- They help establish information hierarchy for the particular site
- They spread the "ranking power" across webpages
When you achieve all these, you shall have created a well-integrated site structure, albeit indirectly. Internal linking tells search engine crawlers what pages are essential, plus how to get to them. So the more you link internally, the better it is for SEO.
There are tons of factors to consider when optimising your website for search engines, and the site structure is proudly one of them. Unfortunately, it's one of the most overlooked methods. It's never too late to get started, though; if you're planning to develop a new website or redesign an existing one, this is your chance to implement the steps discussed above, then sit back and see how SEO will work its magic.
Pixel Fish is a leading Sydney Website Design Agency that creates beautiful websites for better business. We specialise in WordPress websites for all of our websites. For more information on how to make the best website structure to boost SEO, contact us today!