Imagine this: You walk into an airport you are unfamiliar with. What’s worse is that there is no rhyme or reason to its structure. There are no signs that shows where to check-in bags and where to go for security clearance. The complete chaos will make you anxious, right? A website with no site structure is no different than the said airport.
What exactly is a Site Structure?
A website is made up of a network of web pages. The number of pages can range from five to thousands and even 40 million! A site structure is important to systematically guide both humans (usability) and search engine crawlers (findability) through the intricate network of these pages. It shows everyone how every asset on your site is linked to another. When a website has a strong site structure, it is easily navigable, and it’s also quickly and seamlessly indexed by crawlers.
Why Site Structure matters for users
Simply put, a website without structure takes away from great user experience. The human brain is wired to seek patterns and logic in situations they are unfamiliar with, especially in the digital world. Think about it- we frequently browse through websites, even new ones, to find information, to shop or to interact with others. Just by browsing thousands of websites over time, our brain expects what it has come to know as normal– information like clicking on the logo will take you to the homepage, a navigation menu is usually found on the top left corner, search bar is found on the top right etc.
By having important and intuitive site structure that takes users from one point to their desired point, while also giving them logical cues as to what else available on your site through a solid interlinking structure, you guarantee a delightful customer experience for the users.
Why Site Structure matters for SEO
Search engine crawlers like GoogleBot rely on site structure to give it clues about how your web pages are related. It looks at internal and external links to determine the relationship between content located in various pages. Without a site structure, it is very likely that your site will contain orphan pages– these are pages that are not linked to from any other section in your site. These pages cannot be found by search engine crawlers, and hence go unindexed. A site structure makes it easier for the crawlers to access, crawl and index all your web pages easily.
A site structure will also ensure that you aren’t competing with yourself. If your website has a lot of articles relating to one topic, you can use a strong interlinking strategy to show Google which article is more important than others, and which order they should be ranked in.
Site Structure: 5 Best Practices for SEO
- Avoid clutter on homepage- For most websites, their structure follows a pyramid pattern. The homepage takes the top most seat, with categories and subcategories taking their respective spot underneath it. Your homepage is the anchor point to the rest of your website, so you must have links to the most important pages available here. That said, avoid cluttering with too many links because it can confuse the readers and do more harm than good.
- Build a deep structure-There are two types of site structures: shallow and flat. A flat structure means that every single one of your page is only one click away from your homepage. This is impossible to achieve unless you have a very small site. Shallow site structure, on the other hand, means that it takes three or more clicks to reach a certain page. Shallow is better than flat site structure for both usability and findability. But, make sure that every single page on your website is only 2 to 3 clicks away. Otherwise, it will take longer for your users to find the page they are looking for and leave them confused and frustrated.
- Use descriptive texts on navigational links- By labeling your navigational links with descriptive texts, you give users enough information to confidently know what content they are bound to find once they make that click. This is especially true if you have a very large site. Using relevant keywords will ensure that users aren’t lost or misled while looking for a specific location on your site.
- Refine your meta description- Don’t skip out on including a meta description on each of your pages. This is a short snippet of text that appears under your page URL. It should accurately describe the content of your page. The more eye catching, descriptive and relevant your meta description, the more likely it is that the user will click on the link. Also note that, meta descriptions don’t directly impact rankings, but since the quality of your meta description will affect your click through rate, it can indirectly play a role on how you rank.
- Optimize your title tag- Your title tag impacts your search engine rankings. Make sure that your keywords that you are trying to target with the content present within the page is included in your title tag. This will quickly tell Google what your page is about, and what keyword you should be ranked for. Using relevant keywords on your title tag is important to receive targeted organic traffic.
As your website grows, take the time to keep updating your site structure to reflect those changes. This will ensure that no webpage gets left behind, ignored or buried.