Is your website structure in check? If you want your website to rank well, attract visitors and retain them, it’s absolutely essential that you pay close attention to your site structure.
This topic can sound very complex and intimidating, but it’s really not as difficult as it first seems. To help you get started, here’s a complete guide on why site structure is important and the best practice that you should follow to boost your metrics and your bottom line.
Why Site Structure Is Important
Site structure is important for two key reasons. Here’s a closer look at those areas in more depth.
A Strong Site Structure Benefits SEO
Google and other search engines use complex algorithms to rank websites in organic search results. Those algorithms take thousands of data points into consideration and the structure of your website is a very important one.
Google wants to give its users valuable information that is hosted on quality websites. As such, its algorithms will quickly scan the a site’s structure to better understand your website. It will make value judgements about the information on there, how well it is maintained and how effectively users will be able to navigate it.
This means that a clean and well-ordered site structure can really help you to boost your organic rankings. If you build and submit a sitemap (more on that later), you’ll give your website the best chances of success.
How a Strong Site Structure Benefits UX
At the end of the day, your website is built for your target audience rather than Google. This is why you need to make sure that the information on your website is properly organised and logical to navigate for a human being.
Jakob’s Law of the Internet User Experience dictates that users spend the majority of their time on the web on other websites than yours. This fact means that strong codes and conventions have emerged and the web experience has been harmonised. It’s critical that your site structure abides by those conventions to give your users a pleasant experience.
When your website is easy to navigate, you’ll find that your users spend longer on your website and that they’re much more likely to come back in the future.
How To Achieve a Strong Site Structure
Now that we understand the two reasons site structure is so important, let’s take a closer look at the techniques and areas that you can focus on to get the best results.
Site Hierarchy from the Homepage Down
It’s critical that you spend an appropriate amount of time thinking about the structure and hierarchy of the pages on your website. Think about how your audience is going to interact with your website and exactly what it is that they want to do on it.
Let’s imagine that you’re an IT solutions provider working in Melbourne. You want your website to be a key customer acquisition channel, so it’s important that there’s lots of information about your services, your company and your success stories.
Let’s picture the website as a large house. You would have a homepage that sits at the top of the hierarchy and acts as the foyer to your website. From here, your users can take different paths through the house and enter different wings (About Us, Our Service, Success Stories, Contact Us). Within those wings that are different smaller rooms that compose those sections.
Looking at the key sections of your website as wings of a home and their pages as rooms, you get a good idea of how to organise your content.
Menu Navigation and Internal Page Structure
Does your menu accurately reflect the hierarchy that you have created? Best practice dictates that from the homepage, your user should never be more than two clicks away from the information that they want to find.
It’s also absolutely essential that your individual pages follow a logical structure that helps your audience to find the information they need at a glance. A study from the Nielsen Norman group found that 79% of users quickly scan a new page – this is why it’s so important that you use the appropriate HTML heading tags and stylistic choices to break down the information.
Using the right markup can also help search engines to understand your content and present it to your target audience.
Building and Submitting a Sitemap
Your sitemap tells Google which pages of your website should be crawled and indexed. This helps the search engine to understand your content. Creating a sitemap is simple and Google offers a lot of guidance on how to make one in a variety of formats and how to submit that sitemap through the Search Console.
We hope that this look at site structure helps you to delight search engines on one hand and your users on the other!