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When the structure of your website is well organised your have better chances of higher ranking in the search engines. Every website has some “structure.” As a business owner you would know your sales pitch – you can organise your website in such a way that portrays your sales pitch. Intentionally and carefully create a site that achieves search excellence.
Following suggestions and best practices will help you create a site that appeals to users, gets crawled and indexed by spiders, and delivers the best SERPs listings and rankings possible.
Why Structure Matters
Few of the reasons will highlight, why site structure is so crucial. In the following sections we will also discuss the how-to of developing your own SEO-friendly site structure.
A good site structure means a great user experience. Human mind seeks cognitive equilibrium which means, being able to put logically together given pieces of information, finding things where they’re expected, and locating what they are seeking. Thus, a strong and logical site structure is developed keeping in view user’s cognitive demands in mind.
Also remember, the more appealing your site to users is, the more appealing it is to search engines too. If your site has poor CTRs and high bounce rate, it will not perform well in the SERPs. By contrast, when a user finds a site that they like — i.e. a site with great structure — they don’t bounce and they stay longer. An accurate site structure can reduce bounce rate and improve dwell time, both of which will lead to improved rankings.
A good site structure provides your site with sitelinks
Sitelinks are a listing format in the SERPs that show your site’s main page along with several internal links indented below. You’ve seen them before.
But how do you get sitelinks? You don’t simply go to Google Search Console (also known as Google Webmaster Tools) and fill in a few fields on a form. You can’t issue a sitelink request. Instead, Google’s algorithm automatically awards websites with sitelinks. And they do so based on great site structure. If you have a poor site structure, it’s very likely that your site will never receive site links. The absence of sitelinks could be costing your site more targeted traffic, higher CTR, and increased conversions.
A good structure means better crawling
Web crawlers like Googlebot crawl a website’s structure. Their goal is to index the content in order to return it in search results. The better your site structure, the easier the crawlers can access and index the content.
Crawler’s don’t automatically discover everything on your website. Google even admits, “[there are] pages on your site we might not…discover,” or “URLs that may not be discoverable by Google’s normal crawling process.” (That’s one of the reasons why Sitemaps are necessary.) However, crawlers will have a far easier time accessing, crawling, indexing, and returning the pages of a site with strong structure. A good site structure is at the very core of good SEO — optimizing for the crawlers.
Your site’s organization paves the way for SEO success. In fact, it could be argued, that without a good site structure, you will never have SEO success. Strong site structure gives your site an unbreakable SEO foundation that will provide you with vast amounts of organic search.
Six Steps to Creating Site Structure
1. Planning the Hierarchy before Developing the Website
If you’re starting a new website, you have a great chance to plan the site structure for the best SEO results. You can do it on a whiteboard or a regular notebook. You can also use computer programs like Excel, Word, Google Drive Spreadsheets or Visio (Visio which will help to organize the hierarchy in much quicker and organized way).
Depending on your products/services and your sales process – plan the hierarchy of your website in such a way which facilitates the visitors. Website visitors should be able to easily navigate your website and eventually get message which you want to give them.
A “hierarchy” is nothing more than a way to organize your information. The hierarchy will also become your navigation and your URL structure, so everything important begins here.
Generally, a site hierarchy looks like this:
Few features of hierarchy that you should keep in mind
- Make your hierarchy logical, simple unique and distinct. Also make subcategories. Subcategories should somehow relate to the main category under which it is located.
- Ideal number of main categories is between two and seven. Unless you’re some ecommerce store like souq.com or amazon.com. If you have more than seven categories, you may want to rethink the organization, and pare it down a bit.
- Try to balance the number of subcategories within each main category. If one main category has ten subcategories, while another main category has only three subcategories, this could become a little unbalanced.
2. Creating a Logical URL Structure
The second main element in developing strong site structure is your URL structure. URL structure follows the hierarchy.
So, let’s say your hierarchy looks like this:
Your URL structure will be organized according to your site hierarchy. This means, obviously, that your URLs will have real words (not symbols) and appropriate keyword coverage.
3. Using HTML or CSS to Create Your Site Navigation
4. Using Fewer-Clicks-Structure for Navigation
Make sure that pages, especially important ones, aren’t buried too deep within the site. Fewer-clicks-structure works better – both from a usability and crawler perspectives.
Develop the structure in such a way that your website visitors require three or fewer clicks to reach every page.
5. Creating a Header that Lists Your Main Navigation Pages
Your top header should list out your main pages. Adding any other menu elements apart from your main categories can become distracting and unnecessary. Provide a consistent header menu even if you have used parallax effect in your website.
Also, if you are using dropdown menus using CSS effects, these may provide a unique or intriguing user experience but these effects do not enhance SEO – so avoid them and also avoid using an image-based navigational structure. Text links with appropriate anchor texts provide the best SEO results.
If you have a footer with menu links, be sure to duplicate the main links of your top navigational menu in your footer navigation menu. Changing the order of links or adding additional category listing will spoil the user experience.
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6. Developing Internal Links
Internal linking puts meat on the bones of a logical site hierarchy. There are three main reasons why they are important, they:
⦁ encourage users to navigate other pages of the website
⦁ help establish information hierarchy of the given website
⦁ help spread link juice (ranking power) around websites.
There’s no need to get overwhelmed with internal linking. The core idea of internal links is that every page on your website should have some link to / from another page on your website. Keep special attention to the pages of main and subcategories. Internal linking tells the search engines what pages are important, and how to get there. The more internal linking you have across all pages, the better.
Great site structure comes out after careful thinking, intentional design, and accurate organization. Create the site structure before you start creating your website. On the other hand, if you’re redesigning your site, you can rework the design and reorganize some navigational elements to improve structural SEO.
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