Our Top Three Website Structure Tips for SEO

04 May 2021
by Archie Williamson
5 mins
Our Top Three Website Structure Tips for SEO

Implementing some simple website structure tips will help you to declutter your pages and ensure they are linked, grouped and presented in the best possible way for both the user experience and search performance.

Site structure is an important but often overlooked aspect of SEO. It covers everything from the broader hierarchy of your site and how the pages are categorised, to its ease of navigation via menus and the links included within the copy of blogs and product pages.

All of these factors, when optimised correctly, create a rigorous, streamlined structure that allows Google to crawl and index content and understand the context of how everything fits together. It also delivers the high quality experience that visitors expect when they navigate to your site on desktop and mobile.

Why is site structure important for SEO?

In order for your pages to feature in search engine results, you need Google’s web crawlers to access your pages and then crawl and index them. Googlebot, the generic name for these crawlers, takes cues from the structure of your site to find important content and determine what it is actually about.

In its own guidance, Google says the better it can understand your site, the better it can serve content to people who are looking for it after entering a search query. Google often follows internal links that point to different pages on your site to achieve this objective. It also looks at the hierarchy and how pages are categorised.

Perhaps more importantly after the initial crawling process, an optimised structure will prevent your pages from competing against each other, which will improve your performance in search rankings. When there are multiple posts with similar content, structure tells Google what is the most important through categories and subcategories, and internal links.

This all means that even if you are publishing great content, without the right signals and structure, you are undermining your own efforts to increase visibility and drive organic traffic. Optimising site structure should therefore be viewed as a foundation from which you can then build the rest of your content and SEO strategy.

Are there any tips I can start implementing now?

Create and optimise a site hierarchy

Your site should have a top down site hierarchy that begins with the parent page, usually the home page, and then flows down into different categories and subcategories. The priority here is to keep things simple.

Your home page should feature the main category pages in a menu and the general navigation should be straightforward and free of clutter. Each category should have a subcategory that is related to it in some way.

Categorising content is easy enough. If you are currently working with an SEO agency to craft content that will boost your search rankings, it is probably best to split these into different subcategories based on specific topics. SEO expert Neil Patel recommends limiting the number of categories to between two and seven, and to balance subcategories accordingly.

An extension of site hierarchy is URL structure. URLs that are semantically accurate and feature target keywords will again make it easy for Google to determine what a page is about, while also acting as a minor ranking signal in that they can increase visibility by improving relevance for search queries.

URLs, along with other technical elements like meta descriptions and title tags, can drive key metrics such as organic click-through rate from links in search.

Build a robust internal linking structure

Think of internal linking structure as a way of fleshing out the basic building blocks that you have put in place with your initial site hierarchy. Links are crucial for informing Google about content and how everything is structured, and enabling users to navigate pages seamlessly while nurturing and spreading link value.

The latter point is central to SEO as internal links effectively pass value between pages. When Google sees a page with a multitude of valuable links, it understands that this page is very relevant, which can then increase its chance of ranking at the top of SERPs.

Internal linking should be organised in a similar way to the wider structure, complementing it and providing assistance for users while building link “juice”. You can use the keywords included within copy to link to other relevant content on your site. Partnering with an agency and leveraging the best SEO services will help you to link to and from important pages so you can focus on other technical elements.

Optimise navigation and user experience

Google’s upcoming Page Experience Update highlights the emphasis it is now placing on the user experience. When someone clicks through from a link in search and is not satisfied with what they find, this can negatively impact metrics such as dwell time, time spent on page, and bounce rate.

Poor metrics in this case will make it difficult for you to keep visitors around and take action in the form of a purchase while also sending signals to Google that a page might not actually be useful or of value. This can be disastrous for your visibility in search.

Effective site structure in this case means presenting an experience that meets a user’s expectations after they have clicked-through. There are a variety of factors in play here, not least loading times and visual stability, which are part of the Core Web Vitals. Visitors also want to find information easily and be able to navigate between sections to get where they want.

While not explicitly part of the structure, Google recommends putting “useful content on your page” and keeping it up to date, while improving page speeds and ensuring it is mobile friendly. This will improve how Google serves and ranks your content.

Web design should also be a primary consideration here as everything needs to be fast and responsive so make sure to work closely with IT to ensure the experience is excellent across a variety of devices.

Website structure is central to your content marketing and SEO efforts then. If you want to find out how an experienced agency can help you to update or overhaul your site and the copy within, contact us today and we will talk through the options available to you.


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