The better your site structure, the better your chance of higher ranking in the search engines. Every website has some “structure.” It might be a rigorous and streamlined structure, or it may be a disorganized jumble of pages. If you are intentional and careful with your site structure, you will create a site that achieves search excellence.
In this article, I share some of the best advice on creating a powerful site structure. The tips below will help you create a site that appeals to users, gets crawled and indexed by spiders, and delivers the best SERP listings and rankings possible.
Why Structure Matters
As I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years, I’ve been surprised at how often site structure is overlooked. On the one hand, it’s one of the most crucial aspects of a site’s SEO performance, but on the other hand, few webmasters and owners understand what it means to have a site structure that enhances SEO.
I’m going to share a few of the reasons why site structure is so crucial, and then get into the how-to of developing your own SEO-friendly site structure.
A good site structure means a great user experience.
When you take away the colors, the fonts, the kerning, the graphics, the images, and the white space, good site design is really about a great structure.
The human mind craves cognitive equilibrium — being able to put pieces logically together, finding things where they’re expected, and locating what they are seeking. Thus, a strong and logical site structure is cognitively satisfying to users.
As you know, the more appealing your site to users, the more appealing it is to search engines, too. Google’s algorithm uses information from searchers to rank your site. If your site has poor CTRs and low dwell time, it will not perform well in the SERPs. By contrast, when a user finds a site that they like — i.e. a site with great structure — they don’t bounce and they stay longer. An accurate site structure can reduce bounce rate and improve dwell time, both of which will lead to improved rankings.
A good site structure provides your site with sitelinks.
Sitelinks are a listing format in the SERPs that show your site’s main page along with several internal links indented below. You’ve seen them before.
Sitelinks are a huge SEO advantage. They increase the navigability of your site, point users to the most relevant information, increase your brand’s reputation, improve user trust, help you dominate SERPs, increase clickthrough rate, and shorten the conversion funnel. Basically, sitelinks are awesome.
But how do you get sitelinks? You don’t simply go to Google Webmaster Tools and fill in a few fields on a form. You can’t issue a sitelink request. Instead, Google’s algorithm automatically awards websites with sitelinks. And they do so based on great site structure.
If you have a poor site structure, it’s very likely that your site will never receive site links. The absence of sitelinks could be costing your site more targeted traffic, higher CTR, and increased conversions.
A good structure means better crawling.
Web crawlers like Googlebot crawl a website’s structure. Their goal is to index the content in order to return it in search results. The better your site structure, the easier the crawlers can access and index the content.
Crawler’s don’t automatically discover everything on your website. Google even admits, “[there are] pages on your site we might not…discover,” or “URLs that may not be discoverable by Google’s normal crawling process.” (That’s one of the reasons why Sitemaps are necessary.) However, crawlers will have a far easier time accessing, crawling, indexing, and returning the pages of a site with strong structure.
A good site structure is at the very core of good SEO — optimizing for the crawlers.
To sum up, your site’s organization paves the way for SEO success. In fact, it could be argued, that without a good site structure, you will never have SEO success. Strong site structure gives your site an unbreakable SEO foundation that will provide you with vast amounts of organic search.