How to Structure a Website for SEO
August 9th 2021 | By Steve Grant
The structure of a website is a major influencer when it comes to search engine rankings. A well planned-out website structure will improve your chances of achieving higher search engine positions, as well as making the whole browsing experience more streamlined for your site users. But a jumbled mess of pages will have the opposite effect.
In this post we’ll explore some of the best ways to structure a website so that it is user-friendly, gets crawled and indexed by the search engines, and provides you with the best rankings possible so that you can enjoy better online visibility and more leads.
What is website structure?
Website structure is the way a site’s pages are organised and connected to each other. It is important to realise that web users do not always enter a site through the home page or the page that corresponds with their search query, so it’s vital that the structure of the website is so that they can easily find their way to the information they need without getting frustrated.
Website structure is important to the degree that many people need to be involved in its design. This includes SEO experts, user experience (UX) specialists and content creators. Working together, they’ll ensure that every base is covered so that your website is both user and search engine friendly.
Why is website structure so important for SEO?
An SEO-friendly website structure with well-planned linking will allow both users and Google to understand how the site fits together. It will also boost search visibility. Here’s how.
Great site structure = positive user experience
Search engine rankings are associated with how straightforward a website is to navigate and use. Natural transitions between pages will help search engine crawlers index the pages, and users find what they need. The recommendation is that every page of a website should be accessible within a maximum of three clicks.
The more attractive a website is to users, the more kudos it will gain with search engines. Google uses information from searchers to rank a website. If the click through rate is poor, and dwell time is low, then the site is not going to do so well in the search engine results. On the other hand, when someone lands on a website that makes them feel comfortable, they’ll tend to stick around, which will reduce bounce rate and increase well time. Both of which can improve rankings.
Strong website structure = sitelinks
Good website structure boosts the chances of achieving sitelinks. Sitelinks are the block in the search engine results page (SERP) that show your domain, along with numerous internal pages grouped below it.
Because Google automatically pulls the most relevant information from a website to generate sitelinks, it is vital to build a strong structure. Poorly structured sites rarely get sitelinks.
Sitelinks provide considerable advantage for SEO. Not only do they point users to the right information quickly, they also boost reputation, enhance trust and help your website stand out from the rest. They’ll also increase click through rate, which as we’ve said, tells Google that your site is a great place to be.
Good site structure = better search engine crawling
A streamlined website structure ensures thorough search engine page crawling and indexing. Not only does it make the crawling process easier, it also optimises the volume of pages a search engine crawler can get through in a set time.
An effective site structure helps make content more relevant to search intent, better laying out information across the web pages in line with corresponding topics and queries.
How to create a brilliant website structure?
There are various steps to achieving great website structure.
1. Plan your hierarchy in advance
It is wise to plan your website hierarchy in advance of creating any pages. This hierarchy will become your website navigation and URL structure, so everything that’s crucial to your SEO success starts here.
Try not to overcook your hierarchy or make it too complicated. The whole idea is that your website structure is simple for users and search engines.
Always make sure that your sub categories follow your main categories and that everything is logical and balanced. Also, be sure to keep your main categories to a minimum. The maximum recommendation is seven.
2. Formulate a clear URL structure in line with your hierarchy
A clear URL structure is important as it shows users where they are on your site. When your web pages appear in the search results, being able to see where they sit in relation to the rest of the website is a major influencer of click through rate.
URL structure should follow your hierarchy, which means the URLS will show real words that reflect the appropriate keywords for the page.
3. Don’t bury important pages too deep in your website
A shallow navigation is preferable, both for users and for search engine crawlers. It’s vital to avoid burying important pages too deep in a site. Websites that require fewer clicks to reach each page are more preferable to deep websites that need long strings of clicks to view every page, according to Search Engine Journal.
4. Keep things tidy
If you’re using a quick links menu in your website footer, be sure to duplicate the main navigation links rather than vary them, otherwise you’ll cause confusion all round.
Avoid the temptation to use special effect drop down menus off your navigation too. Whilst these might look cutting edge, they will often cause frustration for users, especially on certain devices. Also avoid using image-based navigational features. These won’t be SEO friendly. Stick to text links for the best results.
5. Create a thorough internal linking structure
Internal linking helps users to navigate a website, sets a good hierarchy of information, and boosts the ranking power of a website, according to Moz.
Again, don’t overthink it. Just make sure that each page of your website has a link to and from another page in some form. Whether it’s a side menu or in-context links within the content, you’ll be letting the search engines know which of your pages are important, and how to reach them. The more internal linking you have across your website, the better.
Build a great website structure from the start for SEO success
Good website structure calls for careful planning, SEO knowledge and user experience expertise. Always remember that building your website structure with SEO in mind from the outset will make everything so much easier in the long run. Achieving good organic rankings takes time, which is why you need to have the right foundations in place from the start.
If you could use some help in organising your website for SEO success, talk to Figment. We offer an SEO website design and build service, as well as technical SEO assistance for existing sites. With SEO experience dating back to 2006, you can rely on our team for the in-depth knowledge you need for success in boosting your online visibility, and getting your website really working for your business.