4 steps to improve your website structure for better SEO
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Website UX Structure for Better SEO

The best SEO practices today are directly linked to user satisfaction. Ten years ago, all you needed to achieve SEO success were keyword stuffing and tons of backlinks from other websites. It was easy to rank number one within a few months - even low quality websites.
rait-raak-author
by Rait raak
November 20, 2018

The best SEO practices today are directly linked to user satisfaction. Ten years ago, all you needed to achieve SEO success were keyword stuffing and tons of backlinks from other websites. It was easy to rank number one within a few months - even low quality websites.

Now, Google and other search engines prioritize relevance and analyse hundreds of factors to determine quality. A huge chunk of that relevance is scored on the ease of your provided user experience. For example, 51% of online traffic currently comes through mobile devices. Because Google is always striving to provide the most relevant results to search queries, they announced the mobile first index in October of 2017. This meant that site crawlers will determine the relevance of a website using its mobile site first, before its desktop site. If your website does not offer a good mobile user experience, Google’s algorithms will work against you. Regardless of how much SEO effort you put in. With a poor mobile site, your website will continue to rank lower on search engines.


Why is UX Structure Important to Search Engines?

1. Defined sitelinks


Sitelinks are the internal links that are often indicated when a website pops up on a SERP. These links are one of the first signs of a well-structured website. They make it easier for visitors to find the pages or information they need. Sitelinks also increase clickthrough rates, as they encourage even the laziest users to access what they need with just one click. All of these factors add up to a very promising SEO advantage.




The challenging part is, you can’t create sitelinks by yourself. Nope. Google selects websites that should be automatically assigned sitelinks. And they make no provision to put in a request for one. The only way a website can receive sitelinks is if they maintain a good site structure.


If you’re not investing resources to building a good site structure, then you’re probably losing traffic, sales, and other conversions to your oversight.


2. A defined path for web crawlers

Every search engine has its web crawlers (Googlebot for example) going over websites and indexing their content for better search results. This is how they find relevant content, and determine your page rank on SERPs.

With a well-defined site structure, it becomes a lot easier for web crawlers to find your content, assess it, and index as needed. For this reason, Google encourages users to develop their sitemaps. WIthout a good structure, crawlers may never find some of the pages on your website. To ensure that your website benefits from the routine crawling process, it is important that you maintain a good structure.


3. Great user experience

User experience goes beyond impressive graphics. The core/primary structure of the website should be developed for easy use. There should be a logical reason why each part of your website is designed as it is.

As internet users, there is a defined path we already follow when we visit websites. For example, I know that to find the privacy policy of a website, I should check the footer. Your users have become accustomed to a trail. I’m not saying you can’t be creative and deviate from it, but your structure should never confuse your users. They should be able to find what they need easily.

These essential UX factors affect not just users, but also Google’s algorithms. If users are having trouble with your website and leaving too early, your high bounce rate will eventually affect your performance on the SERP.

Your site structure is the needed foundation for all your SEO efforts. You can’t achieve SEO success if you don’t have a good structure because you will be against search engine guidelines, and they will not rank your pages.




4 Steps to Developing a Good Site Structure

Every website has a structure, planned or not. Creating a structure for a new website is a lot easier than reorganizing an existing one. This is not to say that it can’t be done. Here’s where to start.

A. Create your website ladder

If you’re still in the planning phase of your website, then you still have the amazing opportunity to plan where everything will go. Use an excel spreadsheet, or a real-life drawing paper to map out your website pages. Decide on parent pages and sub-categories. Do this before you create your first page.

The ladder format of your website should make sense. Use the same organizing skill applied to arrange your refrigerator. Main categories should be unique and used as a parent for related subcategories.

Also, try to minimize the number of main categories created. Don’t go above 7, which should only be reached if you have a lot of diverse content. If you have just one or two subcategories under the main category, look at your other options and try to fit them under another main category. Organizational balance is one of the first features of a well-structured website.

B. Use a synchronized URL structure

Avoid creating URLs for your pages using a mash-up of numbers and symbols. Your URL structure should contain the name of your page and also follow your website ladder.

For example, if your website is myhealthsite123.com, it should follow this format:
To get to the blog, myhealthsite123.com/blog
To get to the Keto section under blog, myhealthsite123.com/blog/keto

Doing this provides several benefits for your website. First off, it includes your major keywords in the URL, promoting SEO. It also makes it easier for users to predict page names. I can’t count how many times I found websites’ blog by just adding ‘/blog’ behind their URLs. Finally, it provides a clear path for site crawlers to find and index your pages.


C. Create a header and a footer

These are the two most important directories on your website. Your header should be used to list all the main categories and their subcategories. If you’re also going to include your main menu in the footer section, ensure that it is a duplicate of the header menu. In the footer section, you can include links to other (less) relevant pages, and needed information regarding the website. The footer is the last section of any webpage.


D. Use internal linking

Every page on your website should link to another internal page. Doing this pushes your conversion optimized pages to search engines as the most relevant pages to rank. It shows site crawlers that one, two, or three pages are very important, and how to get to them.

Internal linking is also important for users. Service-based businesses are always encouraged to put their contact details on every website page, as potential clients might want to convert at any point.

Beyond that, linking internally further promotes your site ladder/hierarchy, giving more navigation help.


Conclusion

The important thing to remember is that site structure will happen, whether it is intentional or not. When it is a product of publishing pages as you wish, then you start losing CTOs and other conversion goals. It also hinders your SEO efforts, as search engines will continue to rank your website as not relevant enough. View your website as a whole construct when planning its structure. When you have a structure mapped out, your SEO efforts will fall into place easily.



about the author


rait-raak-author
Rait Raak

Rait is a full time online marketer, SEO enthusiast and founder of Estonian SEO company RankBrain Media. Through his 10 years of SEO experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses to dominate the search engines and fight their way to the top. Besides SEO and marketing, he loves music, photography and plays guitar as a hobby.