The SEO Basics Beginner’s Guide Part 4: Website Architecture

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alexmangrolia_wI’m big on site structure. If you’ve met me in person, I like things well organized. Organization saves a lot of time and money and guesses what? So does the structure of your website.

In my previous blog, I talked about setting up the SEO for your pages or aka OnPage SEO. Now how do you take those pages and make them structured into a website? Were you planning on just putting all of them on the main menu? Of course not! What you were thinking of doing was to stricter out your pages.

What is Website Architecture (aka Site Structure)?

Think of it this way. You’re going to have this awesome site talking about Cute Animals. In your cute animals site, you have cute puppies and cute kittens. Well, you would take the keyword research you did previously and start categorizing and subcategorizing your information. That’s all site structure is. That was easy right? Okay, there is more depth to it in that.

Why Does Website Structure Matter?

When search engines and even more importantly, your visitors come to your site they don’t want to go through what I call the black hole of infinite clicking! Making your website’s navigation complex will cause visitors to just leave. Don’t think that just because you understand your website, it means all the users who will be visiting your website will know how to get around! I’ve run into hundreds of businesses throughout my years and all they have are these over complicated nightmare sites that it would take an archeologist a good amount of time to figure out where to start digging. Let’s make sure you don’t do that.

From an SEO perspective, it helps search engines understand your website better. Additionally, there is link juice that is distributed much better. I won’t get into link juice, right now. Just know, that you want to get this done before building your website.

How do you do you create Good Site Structure?

Plan Out Your Map

Before you just start slamming up pages in your website in whatever fashion you want, first start mapping out how visitors will go around and navigate. Trust me you don’t want to have everything up and then try moving things around, that would be literally like building a home and then saying to move it 6 inches to the left. You want to make sure you have a good hierarchy to your site.

website architecture example

Things you want to keep in mind while you’re mapping this out:

  • Does this make sense? Would it make sense to a 5-year-old? Could your significant other or someone who has no idea about your business understand where to go? If yes, then good job. If no, then start over. Do not over complicate this.
  • Keep the main categories down to a low number. You want to stay between 2 to 7. What ends up happening is that people will come to your site and they might feel seriously overwhelmed and they will leave. Why would anyone website there and try to figure out how to find information on your site? You wouldn’t do it for any website you visited.
  • Make sure you balance things out on all the subcategories levels.
  • Don’t go too deep with subcategories. You want to stay at a maximum of 3 levels deep, starting from your top category. Most people will click two to three times and leave if they don’t find the information they want.

2. Create URLs that match your map from step 1.

The first thing you want to make sure you have is a normal URL. Something that has some logic behind it. For example: If you’re making a page for Sleepy kittens, then you’re URL structure should be something like this:

CuteAnimals.com/kittens/sleepy_kittens.html

Every level of the site gets placed in the URL and it has some logic behind it. Another example is if you have a restaurant:

www.mysuperrestaurant.com/locations/downtown_Fullerton

3. Use Shallow Structuring

I talked about this concept above, but I really want to nail this down. Using shallow structuring not only means that you’re site can be easily navigated through to your content pages, but it also means that the search engines can crawl your information quickly. Search engines spend a lot of money crawling and indexing the web. If they have to spend more time and money to crawl your site, they might not crawl it as much or as frequently as you would like them to. Hence, make sure you only have three levels deep.Header Names

4. Header Names

This has seriously got to be one of my biggest pet peeves. Don’t make complicated names! NO ONE UNDERSTANDS what the home page is if you call it something dumb like “back to the yard”. Who the heck knows what “back to the yard” means? For all I know, it might tell me to go mow the lawn. Call your headlines and pages something that is easily understood. If you don’t, you’ll have a bunch of lost visitors who will never come back to your website.

5. Linking to Internal Pages

There are two things that you want to do in order to link to your pages.

  • You want to link to pages one level up and one level down. You could use breadcrumbs, which is my favorite method of doing so. Breadcrumbs follow this nice sequence of telling you where to go. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Breadcrumbs only tell you where you’ve been, so what about one level down? I got you covered here, you want to try to link to the next page even at the bottom of the page.
  • Link to Relevant pages
    You want to think how searchers will be searching. For example: if you have sleepy kittens, then you might have a page called sleepy puppies or yawning kittens. You really want to drill down and think of additional pages that your users will enjoy seeing. Don’t just link everywhere and have links for the sake of links. You want to really make sure that you link to relevant and valuable content. Make the users happy and you’ll make the search engines happy.

Conclusion:

Making sure that your site’s structure is easy to navigate and really provides a great logical user experience is key for SEO and for the success of your site. Make sure it is easy to navigate and don’t use complicated names.

If you have questions then comment below and I will get back to you. If you found this valuable, then don’t be greedy share! Share this information with your social media, friends, family, the dog or cat…

About Alex Mangrolia
My passion is Internet marketing in the SEO, SEM & Social Media marketing space. I love creating cutting edge strategies, generate traffic and leads. My unending thirsts for knowledge and personal growth give me the drive to continual improve & perform.

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