Search engine optimization has become a popular buzzword for business owners. Most know that they can benefit from SEO but don’t know where to begin. We understand SEO is technical, insipid and a complete mystery to many. This post aims to pull back the curtain a bit and show you how to structure a website for optimal search engine success.
How does structure impact SEO?
The structure of your website is an important part of search engine optimization. This part of the process is often over looked for many reasons. It’s not as flashy and it doesn’t have a trendy catchphrase but it is something you must consider. A good structure will provide search engines like Google with fundamental indicators about where the most significant content lives on your website. It’s important that Google understands how your website is organized so it can be easily indexed. If your site is structured correctly that will encourage Google to crawl and index your website more often.
Search engines’ love organized sections
A good starting point is to create a simple map of your website’s structure to visualize how the pages flow and connect with each other. You will start to see how you can group together certain content into sections. When thinking about certain sections of your website think about 3 to 8 categories (max) that you could organize all your content within. You may think, “My content can be divided into more than 8 categories.” A good website structure will progress into more specific subsections but it’s good practice to start with general categories that both people an search engines can easily understand. These main sections will usually live at the top of your website in the main navigation menu. When you click on these menu buttons you can start to drill down into more specific subsections that relate to each section. For example if you visit apple.com and click on iPad you will see subsections for iPad mini, iPad air, iPad accessories, etc. Finally make sure you have an even amount of content allotted for each main section. It’s good practice and it will help you decide if a category deserves its on section on your website.
Section Tip – Select common names that people searching for your services or products are most likely to use, for your main sections.
Layouts search engines understand
Now that you understand how you would like to organize your content you should be thinking about the best layout for your website. The idea here is to place your most important content in the prime real estate part of your website and make it easy for visitors to understand how to access that content. Prime real estate tends to be “above the fold” which is orginally an industry term for newspaper. This is the part of the screen visitors can view before having to scroll down. Before tablets and smart phones, this was an easier process because now you have to take into consideration many different screen sizes. As a rule of thumb, keep each page focused with the most important content displayed first directly under your main navigation. You don’t want to cram too much content on one page. It’s better to have a clean layout with focused content and make it easy to navigate to other content on it’s own dedicated page.
What is your internal linking structure?
Now that your website is organized properly you will want to think about how each section and specific pages are connected. For starters you will want to make sure all main sections are connected to their subsections and vice versa. This is a good point to review your visual map you created for your website. Look at all your pages and determine which pages are closely related. When you connect related content on your website, it helps visitors find the information they are looking for and search engines will reward you with higher rankings.
Now that you understand the importance of a well structured website, think about your current website or the one you plan to create. Make sure you know how to divide your content into sections, where your content will be placed and how your content will link to each other. By doing this you will be setting your site up for optimal online success.