The structure of your website should be easily navigable so that your users would love to stay longer on your site.
The users shouldn’t have any trouble finding the important pages of your site.
Yeah! A well-organized hierarchy of the pages of your site and a clear and consistent menu that helps find those pages will definitely enrich the user experience of your site.
User experience and SEO go hand-in-hand.
Also, it’s the structure of your site which helps the search engines understand which pages of your site are most important.
So, what are you waiting for?
Just start working on improving the structure of your site today and make your website more user-friendly as well as more search engine-friendly.
And increase the chances of ranking higher in search results.
In this article, I share 6 important tips on creating an SEO-friendly website structure. But first, let’s understand what website structure is, why it’s important, and the types of website structure.
What is the website structure?
A website structure refers to how the various pages on a website such as home page, category, subcategories, tags pages, and other important pages are structured and linked together.
An ideal or well-structured website provides not only excellent user experience but is also important for SEO. It helps the crawlers find all the pages and subpages quickly and easily and your site ranks higher in search results.
Why is website structure important?
Ahrefs study says that over 90% of webpages get zero traffic from Google.
Can you guess why is it so?
I mean, what’s the reason that they don’t get any visitors from Google?
Oh, you guessed it right, my friend.
The main reason that they don’t earn any traffic from Google is their poor planning and not having a user-friendly site structure.
So, here are the four reasons why a sound website structure is crucial for SEO.
Improves user experience
A good website structure will help the users navigate through your site without hassles and easily find the information they are looking for. If the users aren’t having any problems in finding the information or products, they’ll definitely stay longer on your site, increasing the dwell time and thus decreasing the bounce rate. This will ultimately lead to improved rankings.
Helps your site get sitelinks
What are sitelinks, anyway?
When you search for a brand or a publisher on Google, there appear several links beneath the main URL of that brand or publisher. These additional links are stelinks that help users easily navigate a website.
But you cannot add sitelinks on your own or download it from the Google webmaster tool.
Google algorithm automatically awards sitelinks to those websites having excellent site structure.
Sitelinks have great advantages as far as SEO is concerned. They increase your brand reputation, help you get targeted traffic, increase CTR, and thus increase conversions.
A website with a sound structure makes it easier for Google bot to crawl it and index the content.
Crawlers might not be able to discover every page on your site. And that’s why sitemaps are crucial.
But a good site structure with good internal linking helps the crawlers discover all the important pages easily. And your users can easily view all the categories and subcategories of your website.
Prevents competition with your own content
When you have blog posts or articles around the same topic, you might be competing with yourself to rank higher in search results.
To avoid this competition, you need to design your website structure properly with good internal linking. This way you’ll tell Google which of the pages you consider most important.
Types of website structure
There are four types of website structure that can help you organize your site of any size.
Also known as a tree structure, this is the most common type of website structure. In this type of structure, there’s a parent page which is further categorized into child pages. The parent page has a broad set of information whereas the child pages contain more detailed information.
In this model, the website structure is exactly as the name sounds. The user browses the website in a sequential manner, that is, either in a forward or backward direction.
Quite popular in the early years of the internet, this type of site structure provides users with many links under various topic groups. And hence after landing on a page, users can choose where they want to go next.
In this model, the users don’t have to build a sequence as they do in the sequential model nor is there any limitation on navigation with parent/child relationships as in the hierarchical model.
As the name suggests, this model integrates a database with search and is a dynamic model to website structuring. With this structuring, visitors can create experiences based on what their queries are in search.
Now that it’s clear to you what website structure is, why it’s important, and what its types are, let’s jump back to how to create an SEO-friendly site structure.
So, how to create an SEO-friendly website structure?
Here are some important ways:
#1. Plan your site hierarchy before you start structuring your site
You must make a plan for your site structure before you start building a new website or restructuring an old one.
Plan your structure before you start creating pages or categories. And for this, you can use pen and paper, whiteboard, Excel, Google sheets, or word processor.
Just organize your information in a simple way, that makes sense, and don’t make your users think too hard.
It’s your hierarchy that’s going to become your navigation and your URL structure.
The users will love spending more time on an easy-to-navigate website and hence decreasing the bounce rate.
Don’t overthink it or overcomplicate the process of creating a hierarchy.
Here are the main points you should keep in mind while creating your hierarchy:
- Logically create your hierarchy – Make sure that each main category is unique and each subcategory that is placed under a particular main category is related to each other.
- The number of the main category should be between two and seven – You don’t need to have too many main categories unless you are a big website or a big store like Amazon.com. If the number exceeds seven, you should think doing a bit of trimming or merging some of them.
- Balance the number of subcategories within each category – Make sure that you’re using only those subcategories which relate to the main category.
And try to keep the number of subcategories approximately even. If you are using non-related or more sub-categories within one main category than in another, this will make your site unbalanced.
#2. Good URL structure
A good URL structure for your website is important for SEO.
You need to pay close attention to the tail end of the URL called ‘slug’.
For example, in the URL www.myexample.com/website-structure, the slug is “website structure”.
Always use real words and appropriate keywords in the slug instead of unnecessary symbols and numbers. This will help the crawlers and users to easily read and understand the content of your page and increase the chances of ranking your site higher in the SERPs.
#3. Develop and improve your internal linking structure
According to Moz, Internal links are commonly used in the main navigation that goes from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain. And they are important because of the following three reasons:
- They allow users to navigate a website
- They help establish information hierarchy for the given website
- They help spread link equity (ranking power) around websites
Do you want the search engines to know what pages are important and how to get there?
Also, do you want your users to read your best posts?
If yes, then you need to develop a comprehensive internal linking structure.
When every page on your site has some link to and from another page, your users can access important pages with fewer clicks. And this will enhance the user experience.
Best part? A good internal linking structure will help you with a good flow of link juice on your site and improving its ranking.
Important! Avoid stuffing keywords in your link’s anchor text.
#4. Maintain consistency with your website
If you keep changing your site’s navigation format, designing principles, and link displays, your users aren’t going to find it easier to quickly navigate to other pages and click on links.
You should ensure that these features on your site follow a consistent pattern.
Otherwise, your users won’t stay longer on your site which will result in increasing the bounce rate.
#5. Include main navigational pages in the header
You should include only the main navigational pages of your website in the header and not the unnecessary ones.
If you add the menu items other than your main categories, it will be distracting for your users.
Using dropdown features for your menus may provide a great user experience, but it’s not going to enhance SEO.
Also, avoid using image-based navigational structure.
Always go for the easy-to-follow design.
The basic text links with relevant and appropriate anchors will help you greatly when it comes to SEO.
If you are using the menu links in your footer, just include the content of the links in your header in those menu links of the footer.
You shouldn’t change the order of links or add additional category listings. And if you do so, the user experience can become messy.
#6. Create your site navigation in HTML or CSS
You should use simple coding while creating your navigation.
So, what’s the simple and safest method of creating your navigation?
Create it with HTML and CSS. That’s the safest way.
The crawlers will then be able to easily read your navigation.
And that’s not going to be good for your SEO, for sure.
I hope that now it’s clear how you can create the website structure that can give you brilliant SEO benefits.
Here’s a quick recap of all the tips we covered in this article:
- Plan your site hierarchy before you start structuring your site
- Good URL structure
- Develop and improve your internal linking structure
- Maintain consistency with your website
- Include main navigational pages in the header
- Create your site navigation in HTML or CSS
Website structure is one of the most important and vital aspects of SEO.
The users, as well as search engines, find it easy to navigate a well-structured website.
So, if you have a great site structure, it’s going to help your site greatly in SEO and rank higher in results pages.
What other tips would you like to recommend for improving the structure of a site? Do let me know in the comments below.