Tips on Optimal Website Structure

Setting up an optimized website structure is crucial to any SEO campaign. A website’s structure can determine three major elements of a business website: the relevance of individual webpages in SERP rankings; the site’s overall user experience; and the ultimately revenue.

When developing a website, it’s vital to create an easy and navigable experience, and a site that has simple function that can scale as the business scales.

Before building your website, any good business owner must have a set of goals in mind. Is your website selling hair products? Does it publish current event articles? Or does it serve as a directory of information? This thinking process will help determine one of the most crucial elements of an optimized website structure, taxonomy.

Website taxonomy–the way categories and sub-categories are hierarchically organized–is made up of a home page and separates individual webpages that are split into categories, sub-categories, topics, and then sub-topics. Website taxonomy influences user experience, navigability, and how you want specific conversions to be accomplished throughout your website.

Keyword research is the foundation of any SEO audit and campaign, and the same is true when structuring your website’s taxonomy. For existing websites, the home page may not be the highest ranking page; the goal is to find out which webpages already drive the most revenue and visitors. This opens a great opportunity to find long-tail keywords that your website is already ranking for, and build a strategy to increase visibility to these pages. For websites with low user traffic, there a number of free keyword tools that will help research and determine the competitiveness and cost-per-click (CPC) of targeted keywords.

URL Structure

In terms of strategic SEO practices when optimizing a website’s structure, URLs are a very important ranking factor; they also aid in user experience. URLs pointing to specific webpages should be optimized to look the exact way of your website structure. Within a banner ad or an organic listing, URLs become sort of an ad in themselves for users to understand what they’re truly viewing.

URLs should be readable and not numerical, separating the URL into the www.domain/category/subcategory/title. Google and other search engines don’t stress length requirements, but keep URL page names short, simple, and descriptive. Google will usually display the page title within an organic listing and cut off text, such as categories and subcategories, within the URL listing. Also, hyphens are best for separating words.

Meta Talk

Meta-tags and titles appear within organic listings and basically give a description and page name of what users are clicking on. In terms of title tags, they too can be truncated by a search engine’s character limit, so it’s ideal to place strategic keywords at the beginning of a title tag and place the actual website name at the name.

Though they don’t affect ranking, meta descriptions are vital to the page’s marketing message. Meta-descriptions should utilize strategic and relevant keywords that are apt to your on-page content. It’s important to both create an on-page description and a CTA to help gather CTRs, which can bolster revenue for your website.

Page/Content Layout

Page layout is probably the most important aspect of optimal website structure and should be the focus of your SEO efforts. Creating content rich pages that utilize strategic long-tail keywords can be beneficial to your organic listings. Of course, Google and other search engines prioritize pages with rich content that improves user experience.

Remember to create appropriate content with an appropriate length. Users often have a low focus rate and a page describing a vacuum product should not number over a thousand words as high bounce rates will occur. Most importantly, it’s good practice to keep your website and individual webpages organized; this applies back to creating a thorough website taxonomy.

In trying to build rich content, external links to other relevant content sources of information can be an effective way of utilizing link building opportunities to improve user experience and gather higher organic rankings. In terms of on-page ranking factors, keyword variance, as opposed to keyword cannibalism, can be an effective way of utilizing multiple long-tail keyword strategies to rank for different keywords across a variety of webpages and also improve website navigability.

As previously mentioned, you want to create an appropriate amount of length for specific content and the same goes with keyword usage. Keyword stuffing will only harm your strategic SEO campaign and will hamper user experience.

Internal Linking

When users click on your page, you don’t necessarily want them to click through multiple pages for conversions. This can create high bounce rates. Internal link building is an effective way to restrict user frustration and point them to different areas of the website which are relevant to their search. This also presents another good opportunity to insert strategic keywords into the anchor texts of your links, whether it’s outbound or internal links.

Remember, search engines punish websites that don’t adhere to best practices like the ones above. These will help in the ultimate goal for any website–to create a smooth and simple user experience, and funnel users to the pages that convert.