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As a part of the SEO practice, website architecture is a critical foundation for establishing a strong online presence. A well-structured website enhances user experience and impacts how search engines crawl, index, and rank your content.
Learning about website architecture can sound challenging for some. From deciding logical hierarchy to implementing an internal linking strategy and creating sitemaps, the entire journey won’t be a one-night game.
But don’t be discouraged. We’ve curated the most essential practices to help you structure your website’s architecture for SEO. We also have the most basic knowledge ready for you to learn. So, buckle up, and let’s start digging in!
Defining Website Architecture
In simple terms, website architecture is the organization and arrangement of the pages within a website and their interconnectedness. This hierarchical structure encompasses the way content is grouped and determines the relationships between various pages through internal linking.
A well-defined and intuitive website architecture is crucial for ensuring that your website is user-friendly and easily navigable by human visitors. Simultaneously, it significantly enables search engines to crawl and index your site’s content effectively.
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This definition then leads to another big question: Why does website architecture matter in a website? The main benefit of a well-structured website architecture is SEO-centered. But here are more reasons it is essential.
Search Engine Indexing: A clear and organized architecture helps search engines to discover and index all the pages on your site quickly, making your content more visible in search results.
Internal Linking and Authority: A web architecture allows for effective internal linking, spreading authority, and ranking power across your web pages. These factors can improve your entire website’s visibility and ranking potential.
Enhanced User Experience: A logical website structure helps visitors navigate your site more efficiently, so they can easily find the specific content they seek. Easy navigation improves user experience and encourages them to spend more time on your site.
A well-structured architecture will increase your website performance. This benefit will be a big deal for businesses as it will impact their overall marketing strategy.
Structuring Your Website’s Architecture for SEO
Achieving an SEO-friendly site structure involves taking into account various other factors,. Whether you want to build a new website or restructure your existing one, consider the following factors to create an impactful architecture for your website.
#1. Embrace a Strong Internal Linking Strategy
Internal linking refers to linking one page on your website to another page within the same site. It’s an essential aspect of website architecture that can significantly impact both user experience and SEO performance.
A solid internal linking strategy involves strategically placing links throughout your content to connect related pages. Use descriptive anchor text that contains relevant keywords to help engines understand the relationship between the linked pages.
Moreover, internal links also assist users in navigating your site, providing additional and relevant content. You can increase their engagement and time spent on your website, lowering bounce rates and improving user satisfaction.
#2. Map Out Simple and Logical Hierarchy
In this context, hierarchy refers to the arrangement and organization of content in a structured and hierarchical manner. It involves categorizing and prioritizing information based on its importance, relevance, and relationship to each other.
A hierarchical structure typically consists of different levels, with the most general and essential categories at the top and more specific and detailed subcategories beneath them. When planning your website’s architecture, creating a simple and logical hierarchy is crucial.
Therefore, organize your content into main categories and then break down those categories into relevant subcategories if needed. The goal is to have a clear and intuitive structure that reflects your website’s main themes and topics.
A well-defined hierarchy not only helps users navigate your site easily but also aids search engines in understanding the organization of your content.
#3. Use Breadcrumbs in Navigation Menu
Breadcrumbs are helpful navigational aid displayed on a website, typically near the top of a page or below the header. They show users their path from the homepage to the current page.
For example, a breadcrumb trail might look like “Home > Category > Subcategory > Current Page.” Breadcrumbs can enhance the user experience by allowing visitors to backtrack easily.
They also assist search engines in understanding the relationship between pages and the site’s overall structure. This additional contextual information makes it easier for search engines to interpret your content and improves the chances of ranking relevant pages higher.
#4. Create Short and Simple URL Structures
Many experts recommend short and straight URL structures to provide clarity. When crafting URLs for your website, the essential element is including the main keywords that reflect the page’s content.
Avoid using long strings of words, numbers, and symbols. Also, cut off irrelevant characters in your URLs. The best practice is to use descriptive words separated by hyphens to create clean, readable, and easy-to-memorize URLs.
For example, consider the following URLs:
- Not SEO-friendly: https://www.example.com/p=123&category=products&prodid=567
- SEO-friendly: https://www.example.com/products/digitalmarketing/seo-class-beginner
The second option is much cleaner and more informative, instantly conveying that the page is about an SEO class for beginners within the “digital marketing” category. Users and search engines prefer concise URLs and may be more likely to display them in search results.
#5. Use a Flat Navigation Structure
A flat navigation structure means your important pages are easily accessible within a few clicks from the homepage. Avoid creating excessive nested subcategories, as it can complicate navigation for users and search engine crawlers.
A flat structure ensures that all essential pages are close to the homepage in the site’s hierarchy. This improves the “link juice” distribution, spreading authority and ranking potential more evenly throughout your web browser.
Moreover, a flat structure reduces the steps required for search engines to reach any page. This strategy further enhances search engine indexation efficiency.
#6. Create Sitemaps and XML Sitemaps
A sitemap is a list of the pages within your site that you want search engines to discover and index. In a nutshell, it’s a roadmap that provides search engine bots with information about the organization of your site and the priority of different pages.
What sets HTML and XML sitemaps apart is their purposes. HTML sitemaps are aimed at users, while XML sitemaps are for search engines. Providing an overview of the site’s structure helps users navigate to specific pages easily.
Meanwhile, you need to submit your XML sitemap to search engines (e.g., Google Search Console). You list all the important URLs and ensure that all your essential pages are crawled and indexed efficiently. A well-structured sitemap enhances the content discoverability rankings on search engine result pages.
#7. Perform Keyword Research and Mapping
As a vital part of the SEO practice, keyword research allows you to identify your website’s most relevant and valuable keywords. This process helps you understand what queries people use when searching for content in your industry, products, or services. For example, a healthcare industry digital marketing team needs a different approach to SEO than an ecommerce site that sells customizing a steel building.
Moreover, keyword mapping is assigning specific target keywords to individual pages on your website based on their relevance. Each page should focus on a primary keyword or a set of closely related keywords.
When conducting keyword research, consider these two factors: the search volume (how often a keyword is searched for) and the keyword’s competition level (how difficult it is to rank for that keyword).
Consider using AI SEO tools to optimize your pages for keywords that balance search volume and competition. This strategy will give you the best chance of ranking well in search results.
In conclusion, structuring your website’s architecture for SEO is a fundamental step in achieving online success. A well-developed website architecture helps you provide a user-friendly website that both human visitors and search engines love.
Remember that website architecture is an ongoing process, and as your site evolves, so should your SEO strategy. Regularly analyze your website’s performance, monitor user behavior, and adjust changes in search engine algorithms to maintain a competitive edge.
Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).
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