Read on to learn why you must Marie-Kondo your site to be found.
Consider this challenge.
You are in a big hurry.
You need to get dressed.
You enter this closet to find the outfit you want to wear—a red cashmere sweater, black jeans, and your favorite pair of suede wedges.
This is an unorganized mess.
There are clothes everywhere. Short sleeved shirts are next to winter coats. Shorts and skirts are piled on the floor. Flip flops are next to random belts.
This mess makes you anxious and want to bounce out of that closet fast, right?
Now imagine doing the exact same challenge, but in this closet.
In fact, getting dressed in this closet makes you feel calm and it makes you want to stay there longer, right?
The clothes are sorted by season and color and you can easily figure out where things are.
Marie Kondo would be so pleased, this closet sparks joy.
Now this exact same concept applies to how your website is organized.
If it is messy, people (and Google) can’t easily find what they are looking for and bounce. If the content is organized, people stay longer and enjoy being there.
Don’t miss this. Website architecture is very important to the findabilty or SEO of your site. The more organized the site is the easier google (and users) can find your favorite blue polka dot sweater, I mean content.
Trying to be found by organic search on a poorly structured website is like trying to get dressed quickly in a messy closet. Yes it’s possible, but why would you make things harder for yourself than you have to?
By making sure your site is built and organized well, you’ll give yourself a great foundation to make sure all your valuable content is read by your potential customers.
Let’s get into the weeds here, go grab a cozy sweater and read on.
What Is Website Architecture?
Simply, website architecture is how the content on your site is organized. This includes all navigation and the blog categories. A site with excellent structure means that all content is within 3 clicks of the home page.
Another way to think of site structure would be if you had a stack of paperwork and just dumped it all together in a drawer, it would be difficult to find the exact document you needed. This is why most people use filing systems like labeled folders to organize their paper documents.
You should use the same principal for the content on your website.
If all your blog posts are stacked up on one long page with back/next buttons
if all of the blogs are “uncategorized”
if there are 47 different categories
It’s going to be almost impossible for your site visitors to find the content that’s useful for them.
You can structure your site in several different ways, and there are no hard and fast rules about how to do this – it depends on the type and amount of content on your site. The most important thing is you consider your site structure from the start and make sure it’s easy and intuitive to navigate.
Some of the things you need to consider when you’re thinking about site architecture include:
- Tags (the entire point of tags is to help users find content within the site)
- Site navigation
- Internal Links
- URL structure
Why Is Site Structure Important for SEO?
Despite what you might think, Google does not deliberately move your site to the bottom of the search result page just to frustrate you.
Google is committed to providing a great experience to its users (remember the acronym EAT), and this means showing them websites that are easy to use.
User experience is a very important factor for Google. In fact, most of the core updates Google implemented this year were all to create a “more awesome user experience” says Googler John Mueller.
Google uses crawlers to read and learn about websites. The crawlers look at the navigation items and the blog categories to determine what your site is all about. If the overall theme of your site isn’t obvious to Google, it won’t be to your users either and this is bad for SEO.
If you want to be found for what you want to be known for, it is essential that the site is easy to use both for human users and for Google.
Site Architecture Tips for SEO
If you haven’t started building your website yet, great! That means you can start from a clean slate and make sure your website structure is optimized from the start.
If you already have a site, don’t panic – you don’t need to start from scratch. There are still lots of things you can do to make your website easier to navigate and improve your SEO.
1. Plan out your site hierarchy
This should be your first step if you’re building a new website. Plan out how you’re going to organize your content in advance with main categories and sub-categories.
Don’t create too many main categories as this can be confusing – aim for 8-10 well balanced categories, in other words don’t have one category with 67 posts and another with only 9.
Make sure the content is well distributed through the categories.
If you’re not sure how to categorize your site, or what you should label your categories, go back to your target keyword list and make the categories match what you want to be known for.
You should also make sure that your URL structure mirrors your site hierarchy. So if you have a page in a main category called “recipes” and a sub-category called “desserts”, your URL should look something like mygreatfoodsite.com/recipies/desserts/best-dessert-recipe-ever/. User-friendly URLs are an SEO ranking factor for Google
If your site is live and unorganized, it’s not too late to restructure your content. However, you don’t want to lose visitors who are following a link to your old structure. To avoid this you can redirect any pages you’ve moved to the new location.
2. Use clear navigation
Your navigation should be obvious.
Categorizing your content internally is a great start, but you need to make sure this structure is clear externally too. Don’t try to get fancy with your menus – sticking to the standard of a horizontal menu bar with your main categories across the top is the most familiar navigation and so is easy for users to understand.
Keep your navigation consistent across your site (i.e. don’t move menu items around), and make sure it’s easy to navigate on mobile devices too.
Having a clear, user friendly navigation makes earning SiteLinks a whole lot easier too. And we all want to earn great SiteLinks.
3. Internal linking
Internal links help Google to crawl your site.
They help users binge your content.
The more pages a user visits on the site increases the Pages Per Session which is a Metric that Matters and google really cares about.
And, also internal links are great for passing on “link juice” from one page to another, so they’re essential for SEO.
Whenever you publish a new piece of content on your site, include links to other helpful posts you have written, this is a clear signal to users and Google that you are an expert and you have authority.
Don’t forget to go back to old content and add links to your new content too!