The modern website faces a dual challenge; on the one hand, it must be appealing, informative and easy to navigate for your human users while also being structured to meet the increasingly sophisticated technical specifications of search engine algorithms.
In this blog, I share some simple advice on creating a well-structured website that delivers optimal user experience (UX) and can be crawled and indexed by Search Engine ‘spiders’ to provide the most effective SERP listings and rankings possible.
Put most simply; website architecture refers to how information is organised and prioritised on your site.
The careful planning and design of a website's architecture not only enhances a sites' usability and enables your visitors to access what they are looking for quickly, but it is also essential for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Structuring your website using navigation menus, breadcrumbs, URLs, and sitemaps helps search engines understand your site and index it accordingly for people searching the web for what you offer.
Let's begin by looking at how your website architecture impacts SEO performance.
Whenever new content is added to the World Wide Web, search engines like Google and Bing use a type of bot known as a web crawler or 'spider'. A website's crawlability refers to a search engine's spider's ability to crawl through its data extracting context from the content to determine its purpose so the site can be ranked by relevance to the keywords and phrases it contains in search engine results.
While search providers have tasked their brightest minds with developing these algorithms, they can only do so much; therefore, it is up to the content creators to ensure that information is organised and presented so these bots can extract meaning from it.
Therefore the ability of a website to be crawled is an essential aspect of its design so search engine crawlers can identify and index fresh web material.
These crawlers browse online sites and will click on links in the same way that a human would. To understand your website and its information, it navigates through subpages and specific themes or topics.
For a web page to be considered worthy of high rank, it must direct the user to another page on the website containing the information being searched for. Crawlers should not encounter any dead ends while surfing your website. To achieve this, you'll need to include internal links to help crawlers browse your site.
The primary benefit of a well-structured website is that it can improve user experience. When someone comes to your website, they should be able to quickly find what they're looking for.
If visitors arrive on a poorly constructed website, they won't interact with it and leave fast. Nobody wants to waste precious time on a website that does not perform well, especially when consumers have many options.
UX aids users in smoothly navigating your website; it lets them know just where to find the information they require. A smart website structure helps direct visitors to the appropriate pages that contain important information.
Furthermore, structuring website architecture for a positive user experience might aid with SEO. Google considers user interaction, bounce rate, time spent on a website, and other factors when ranking sites. Therefore, if a website visit results in a lousy user experience, it signals to Google that a page isn't trustworthy or related to the search query.
While internal links help search engines crawl pages, your users should also be able to move logically from one page to another with just a few clicks for quick navigation.
Internal linkage aids both users and search engines to find a page quickly and organises varied information to keep a fluid flow. This is especially relevant when you have a large website with a lot of pages.
Using keywords in your content helps spiders link to other relevant associated information because these keywords allow search engines to find all instances of them on other pages.
When search engines identify that you have covered all aspects of a topic, your chances of ranking higher on the search results page improve. Furthermore, visitors will have an easier time finding what they are looking for, which will enhance the user experience.
URLs are the cornerstone of a well-structured website because they assist users in navigating. The best URL format is one that can be easily read and understood by search engines and people.
Therefore target keywords must be included in your page URLs to be relevant to the user's search query. Keyword optimised URLs is an excellent approach to improve the quality of your content and make it more visible for specific search terms.
In addition, the arrangement of your URLs can aid in the organisation and hierarchy of your website. To rank higher in search results, you can upload an XML sitemap to search engines with all of your relevant URLs.
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. HTTPS aids in encrypting the connection between a browser and a website so that data transmitted between the two can't be intercepted. HTTPS is required for websites that wish to upgrade to a more secure internet protocol to ensure the security of the website and the privacy of users' data.
To assist in assigning a SERP ranking and enhancing search results, Google considers site security a critical component of the user experience.
HTTPS improves the user experience by raising confidence in a website's ability to protect a user's information and thereby improves its Google Analytics statistics which in turn aids SEO.
The importance of keyword and content research in the development of your website cannot be overstated. It aids in the comprehension of your target audience and the information they are seeking. Keyword research guarantees that these themes are included in the structure of your website and ready to help both spiders and humans establish context from your content.
When consumers engage with the content on your website, it improves the user experience. A great website gives consumers the information they need and makes sure that vital content is high-quality, keyword optimised, and at the centre of the website's structure.
Duplicate content causes you to compete with yourself for search engine rankings, 'keyword cannibalisation' is another term for this. If you don't have a good website architecture structured for existing and future content planning, you could end up creating redundant duplicated content for a topic.
Duplicate content is considered spam by search engines; thus, it negatively impacts your SERP rankings. Therefore it is crucial to categorise your content using an organised website structure to identify which topics have already been covered. This will also help you identify areas to develop new original material containing keywords to help you rank better.
The structure of a website should deliver a rapid user experience, or else your performance will suffer. Your website's SEO performance may be harmed by slow page load speeds, unresponsive pages, or any other difficulties that make users wait or create a bad user experience.
Even if you have excellent content, a slow website will reduce visitors and page views by increasing the bounce rate. A site's bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave without taking any action.
When designing your website, be sure to consult with your web developer to choose the appropriate mobile and website structure that will provide the fastest possible load speeds to reduce the chance of a potential bounce.
When designing, or redesigning, a website one of the most crucial steps is to plan the structure.
To begin, separate the information on your website into topic clusters and look for a broad theme to define the landing pages for each cluster. Landing pages are sometimes called authority pages or pillar pages and will contain general content optimised for the key topic you want to rank for.
For example, a window furnishings retailer website might have a pillar page for 'Blinds' in which that particular window treatment is broadly defined. A brief introduction of various styles of blinds the retailer has available on this landing page, such as Roller Blinds, Roman Blinds, Blockout Blinds, etc.
In this example, each blind style would have its subpage linked to the Blinds pillar page to allow the retailer to elaborate using more specific targeted keywords for anyone searching for that particular style of blinds.
Topic clusters aid in the organisation of your website. Take the time to consider the most likely progression of enquiry a visitor to your website will take when searching for something you offer. Your aim should be to create a natural flow that uses a clear and logical hierarchy that is straightforward to traverse and convenient for your audience and search engines.
It can be overwhelming to plan the structure of your website from scratch. A great way to get the ball rolling is to take a look at the websites of a few of your competitors to get some ideas.
If your competitors' search engine results are high, it suggests they're doing something right. High organic SERP ranking demonstrates that your competitor's website is performing well in terms of SEO and will likely provide a good user experience. Look at how they organise their sites and content for ideas. Exploring the pillar pages and subpages for the various categories of goods or services they offer can assist you in developing your own website structure strategy.
A website's navigation structure displays how various pages are ordered and linked to one another.
To organise your information, you can utilise either flat or deep navigation hierarchies.
Flat hierarchies feature a small number of layers, often just 1-3 pillar pages with directly associated subcategory pages.
Deep navigation hierarchies contain many layers with multiple pillar pages that drill down topics into increasingly refined landing pages and subcategory pages.
Structures for deep navigation are generally more challenging to design and can be harder for humans to navigate but can be excellent for websites competing for many search keywords.
Users can generally find their desired page with just a few clicks if you employ a flat navigation layout. As a result, it's usually preferable to opt for a flat navigation layout as it provides a better user experience and makes your pages easier to crawl.
Analyse your website structure if you already have a problem with navigation depth. Determine how many clicks a visitor must make to view a specific page. As a rule of thumb, make sure it doesn't take more than six clicks to reach any page. Also, ensure the most important or high-value pages on your website aren't buried too deeply.
Plan a site navigation menu that allows users to swiftly access the most critical pages. These will be the pillar pages of primary categories, with their subcategories nested below them.
The type of business you are building for will determine the nature of your website and the types of pages you should include in your menu.
An eCommerce website selling an extensive range of products can necessitate having a complicated deep navigation menu, whereas a small B2B company may only need a few categories for their products or services and therefore can keep to a simplified flat navigation menu.
Wherever possible, try to keep to the basics if you're just getting started with your website and only having a few products or services. Make sure your navigation menus are simple and free of distractions for your users and include footer navigation with a few subcategories.
The hierarchy of your website determines the structure of your URLs.
Creating organised URLs is much easier after you've mapped out your site hierarchy. For example, if your website's pillar page had an individual product page as a subsection, the URL would be yourdomain.com/pillar/product-page/.
This isn't the only way to organise URLs; however, it is essential to find a structure that ensures your URLs contain keywords relevant to their page topics and match URLs to your website's structure to show visitors and crawl bots where they are on your site.
The development of a high-ranking web structure requires keyword research. Conduct keyword research to determine the search volume and competition for keywords that are relevant to your company.
For your top-level pages or pillar pages, choose broad search or general keywords. Then as you explore subtopics or topic clusters, introduce more detailed or specific search phrases. This method of categorising keywords can aid in the creation of a content hierarchy and help make pay-per-click search advertising less costly and more effective.
The overall size and purpose of a website determine the intricacy of its architecture.
Complex structures can be found on larger websites, whereas basic structures can be found on smaller ones, but regardless of the size, your SEO efforts and user experience are influenced by the quality of the structural design of your website.
Therefore it is critical to devote time and resources to improving the structure of your website so that you can boost SERP performance and user engagement.
For expert assistance in creating the optimal website architecture structured to your business and audience needs, call the friendly team at Zeemo today.