Site structure is a very important but often-overlooked element of search engine optimization. It’s also one of the least understood. In this post, we’re going to demystify the basics of site structure. If you don’t manage your own website, you may want to send this post to your webmaster, but even if you’re not up on the whole HTML thing, it isn’t hard to grasp the basics of site structure.
Why site structure is important
Good site structure help’s Google’s “spiders” – tiny bots that index websites and tell Google which pages are relevant for which keywords – find all your pages and posts and figure out which ones are the most important. It also prevents you from competing with yourself for search engine rankings – if you have multiple pages or posts about similar topics, good site structure will help search engines index them properly so your pages aren’t competing with each other for rankings (and therefore making both lower than they should be).
Site structure isn’t just important for SEO, though. Good site structure also provides a better user experience. When everything is properly structured and organized, it’s easier for visitors to your site to find the information they’re looking for and navigate the site in general.
Elements of good site structure
A balanced pyramid
A good site’s structure is pyramid-shaped. Your site is at the top; beneath that are your main pages (between 3-7 of them) like About, Products, and Contact. Beneath each of those are sub-pages (e.g. for About, the sub-pages may be Our Story, Our Mission, and Our Team). The best pyramid structure is balanced – if you have three sub-pages in your About category, aim to have 2-4 (but ideally 3) sub-pages for each of your main pages, as well.
Try to have your pages’ URL structure mimic your site’s pyramid structure. Using the example from above, the URL for the Our Story page (which is under the About page) should be something like http://www.yoursite.com/about/our-story; similarly, the Seasonal Products page that’s a sub-page of your Products page should have a URL something like http://www.yoursite.com/products/seasonal-products.
Your site probably already has a main menu at the top that links to different pages. The best main menu has links to each of your main pages, with dropdowns that link to each page’s sub-pages when the link is moused over or clicked on.
Internal links basically means your pages link to each other. A good rule of thumb is to try to have a (relevant) link to at least one other page on each page. Often, people find it easiest to link to a page’s sub-pages or to its parent page (the page that it is a sub-page of).
Don’t overcomplicate it! Simplicity makes it easier for search engines to index your site and know how to rank it. And the more complicated your site’s structure is, the harder it will be for visitors to find things, which leads to frustrated visitors, a high bounce rate, and low sales for you.