Your site is now live. Creating a website is a huge feat and now it’s time to learn about one of many optimizations. Proper site structure is crucial if you want your website to rank well on Google. Having site navigation that’s well thought out and logical content placement leads to a better user experience. Furthermore, search engine bots are more likely to find and rank your pages in search.

Today, we’ll discuss:

  • Why proper website structure matters
  • How does your website’s structure impact SEO
    • Creating your sites navigation
    • Site structure impacts your sitelink extensions
    • Using subfolders
    • Passing link equity
    • Content cannibalization
  • Next steps
Page Structure

Why Does Website Structure Matter?

Think about the last time you walked into a store. Were the aisles logically placed? Did the store have a random freezer section or were all the cold goods in proximity to each other? More likely, that store did pair similar products down the same aisle. The same should be done with your website.

The better you structure your website, the easier it is for search engine crawlers and users to interact with your content. Proper structure is essential if you want to rank high on the search engine results page (SERP). Additionally, a well-thought-out website structure keeps your users more engaged, resulting in more conversions for your business.

How Does the Structure of Your Website Impact SEO?

Well-thought-out placement of your pages also allows for a better user experience. Nothing is more difficult for a consumer when a site is hard to navigate. If you’re suffering from a high bounce rate, your site’s structure may be poor. The better your user’s experience, the better the signals that Google tracks. This better interaction can help boost your website’s rankings on the SERP.

Additionally, a well-thought-out structure addresses the crawl depth of a website. Crawl depth is the number of clicks it takes to get to a specific page on your website. Many experts recommend a crawl depth of five clicks or less as having more than that’s likely to cause your page to be overlooked by Googlebot.

The better your internal linking strategy, the more likely it’s for search engine bots to find your content. If a crawler can find your content easier, you begin to obtain more rankings which boosts your conversions.

The “Keep it Simple” rule applies here. The easier your site is to navigate, the better experience you provide to your users and the bots.

Creating Your Site Navigation

When structuring your website, your site’s navigation should be top of mind. Many crawlers cannot render JavaScript if your site is “client-side rendered.” The safest option is creating a navigation experience in HTML and CSS as this gives you the best chances of being found by search engine bots.

Most web design platforms create your navigation bar (navbar) using HTML and CSS. The only time you may have a JavaScript navbar is when you create a custom website. As you begin to add pages to the site’s navigation, make sure you review the site structure we discussed before. All high traffic folders should be accessible from the navbar to ensure great internal linking. Don’t worry about getting too fancy. HTML and CSS gets the job done and provide great results for your company.

Site Structure Impacts Your Sitelink Extensions

When you search for a query on Google, many times you’ll find site links under the top result.

These are quick links to frequently visited pages that searchers tend to visit.

To obtain these sitelink extensions your website structure must be logical and crawlable. Ensuring that your site includes the must-have pages such as: “Contact Us,” “About Us,” “Reviews Pages,” and other high traffic pages in your site’s structure allows you to have a better chance at obtaining these extensions.

Search Results
Source: Google

Failure to list these pages in an easy to find way causes you to struggle with obtaining sitelink extensions.

Using Subfolders

Have you ever seen someone’s desk with pages thrown everywhere? Consider this but multiply it by 25. This is what managing a website feels like if it’s not organized properly.

Every website’s structure should include subfolders. Content or products should be logically grouped into a folder such as /product-category or /blog/topic/article.

This allows users to find the information they’re looking for quicker. It also allows you to manage your site easier as it continues to grow.

Also, avoid the use of a subdomain unless you have a specific reason to use it. Using a subdomain can cause crawling issues and difficulty ranking as it’s treated as a different website in the eyes of Google.

Google’s John Muller stated this during a webmaster’s video:

“You’ll need to verify subdomains separately in Search Console, make any changes to settings, and track overall performance per subdomain. We do have to learn how to crawl them separately but for the most part that’s just a formality for the first few days.”

Passing Link Equity

A good site structure allows for a higher probability of obtaining backlinks. Backlink acquisition is no easy feat. Many SEO specialists seek out quality backlinks and only get a handful for hundreds of inquiries. With a good site structure, your content is easier to locate, which can increase your chances of naturally obtaining a backlink.

When the right structure is in place, we can answer more questions with less clutter. This leads to more backlinks, which helps boost your domain authority.

Content Cannibalization

Remember the example of a cluttered desk? Most people know their clutter and can address it, but what if there was too much to remember?

If your content overlaps too much, you’ll be competing with yourself and the Googlebot may be confused. This decline in rankings is a common phenomenon called content cannibalization.

Keyword cannibalization occurs when your website has multiple pieces of content that are trying to rank for the same keyword. With a logical site structure, the content you create is easier for you to access, which can help prevent the cannibalization of your content. You want to set a great foundation not only for your users but for your webmasters and content creators.

Examples of Great Site Navigation

Now that you have some of the tips to make your site’s navigation SEO-friendly, let’s review some good examples of site navigation.

Foster Grant Site
Source: Foster Grant

Foster Grant is a great example of an e-commerce brand that has fantastic site navigation. Its website is laid out by product type, which allows users to find what they’re looking for quickly.

It even has subcategories for men’s glasses, women’s glasses, children’s glasses, and more. All of the links are easy to find for both the user and the search crawlers.

Honest SIte
Source: Honest

Another great example of site navigation for SEO is The Honest Company. It has a large number of products that are segmented into specific categories. Once in the drop-down, users see a concise list of various products that meet their needs. For instance, cleaning is broken down into two categories ― On the Go and Home Cleaning ― which helps users and the bots find product quickly.

Footer menu
Source: Honest

One thing to notice about The Honest Company and Foster Grant is the lack of an About Us Page in their navbars. This is OK as long as it’s linked in the footer. If you have a large number of products, utilize the footer as a way to link to the important pages, such as Our Story, Blog, Privacy Policy, and more.

SEMrush Blog
Source: SEMrush

The last example of great site navigation is SEMrush’s blog. A good blog layout needs content to be filtered by a variety of topics.

As you see here, our navigation is structured into subcategories like SEO, Advanced SEO, Marketing Channels, and more. This structure makes finding topics a user wants to read about easy. The links are also easy for search bots to follow.

What Next

Remember not to get super-creative with your site’s structure. For many, a simple site structure is easier to manage, provide a better user experience, and also allow the search engine bots to find the pages you want to be ranked.

Try crawling your site with Netpeak Spider and review your site’s structure. Begin to develop your new design and remember to add in any necessary redirects. With the proper use of a well-thought-out navigation, you should see an increase in your site’s performance. Monitor the changes in the coming weeks in a platform like Google Search Console and make changes as needed.

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