Most people think of “website structure” as the aesthetic layout of content on a webpage, but the phrase actually refers to how the pages on your website relate to one another. Every website has its own structure, and each structure is unique to the purpose of the website. When done correctly, optimizing your site structure can boost your search engine rankings and solidify your site’s authority.
We’ve seen a lot of different websites here at KreativElement, and site structure is often one of the most overlooked optimization methods. We’ve put together some of our best advice for building a powerful site structure that will bring more traffic to your website, get every page crawled by search engines, and push your site to the top of search engine result pages (SERPs).
Why Does Website Structure Matter So Much?
The simplest explanation for why website structure matters is because it’s one of the most powerful and crucial aspects of a website’s SEO performance.
Three things make site structure crucial:
#1: A well optimized site architecture helps search engine crawlers, sometimes called spiders, find each page on your website and make it visible to users in SERPs.
Crawlers don’t immediately find and index every page created. Pages that are several clicks away from your homepage or not linked from other pages are much harder for Google and other search engines to locate. A good site structure can reduce the number of pages spiders can’t find.
#2: Internally linking from one page to another sends link authority (or “link juice”) around your website.
A solid site architecture can help improve the rankings of less prominent pages like blogs or product pages on search engines, while maintaining the high ranking of your site homepage.
#3: Good structure and good web design have more in common than you think. Imagine your dream home. Now, take away all the things that make it look amazing – paint, landscaping, decor, furniture. What you’re left with is the structure of the house. Is it still your dream home? Or is it a confusing mess of hallways, random doors and fake exits?
The same idea can be used on your website. When you remove the aesthetics, you are left with your website structure and, at the core, good design is about good structure. Everything your site users need can be found easily and makes their stay great.
An effective site structure will reduce bounce rates, increase click-through rates and make passing customers turn into lifetime buyers.
4 Steps to Optimizing Site Structure
When creating a website from scratch, you’re in the perfect position to build your site architecture in a way that works for your business and nets you the best SEO performance. There are four essential elements to an optimized website structure.
1. Plan out your site structure before you start building
This is easily our best piece of advice. Sit down and map out exactly how every page or content group will fit inside your website hierarchy. Sketch it out on a whiteboard, in a word processor or even with something like GlooMaps.
A hierarchy is simply a way to organize your content. Ideally, the hierarchy you create will resemble an upside down tree. The base of all your content and information being your homepage, with sub-branches or more specific content beneath.
Most importantly, make your hierarchy logical. Don’t overthink it. Each main category or branch of your tree should be distinct from the others. Subcategories should hold relevant and similar content to the main category it’s under.
Last but not least, use a flat structure. This just means your tree from above should be wider than longer. The more categories search engines have to pass through to get to a page, the less likely it is that page will be indexed and displayed on SERPs. The best approach is to make every page reachable with no more than 3-4 clicks.
2. Add a URL structure that follows your site structure
Again, keep it simple.
When you’ve fully thought out your site structure and page hierarchy, adding in a URL structure should be rather easy; it will follow your site structure. For smaller sites, it may even be identical.
There are a number of different ways to set your URL structure. CMS systems like WordPress Permalinks make this exceedingly easy by letting you choose the URL structure with the click of a button. Depending on your website, you may want to include publishing dates, product numbers, or other elements. It’s important that no matter the information included, the URL is easy for your users and search engines to understand. That means using real words, not lots of symbols.
3. Stick with a simple main navigation
4. Link to other relevant pages on your website
When you’ve created shareable content or written articles, you should link them with each other. This is an additional way to show users that those pieces of content are topically related. As we’ve done in this post, you can add links within your copy as anchor text.
A basic, well-established link structure will ensure every page on your site has a link to and from another related page on the site. Your simple main navigation will take care of linking to your main topics, but individual pages must be linked to and from one another as well. This helps show search engines which pages are most important and how to get there.
When optimizing your site for search engines, there is a lot to consider and many different approaches. Site structure sits at the foundation of SEO success. The best time to create a solid website structure is before you begin building your site, however these same steps can be used to refresh an already existing site structure.
Concerned your site structure is getting in the way of your website’s success on search engines? Get in touch with us today to learn how KreativElement can help your site rise to the top of the SERPs.
Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter see new blog posts, tips and case studies every month!