Getting to a website and bouncing around from tab to tab trying to understand where everything is located is the worst.
And, this confuses Google – and won’t get you the traffic you deserve!
Setting up the pages of your website in ways that will tell Google what the most important pages are is so important if you want people to actually find you.
That’s why I’ve created this five-part series on website structure, to help you set up your website in the most SEO-friendly way possible.
And for part 1, we’ll start with the main navigation – menus!
why is website structure important?
There are two main reasons why having a clear website structure is so important.
The first is user experience.
Think about it – if you’ve got a website with an unclear structure – maybe you’ve got a bunch of tabs under more tabs under more tabs – your visitors are probbbbbably going to get annoyed or maybe even frustrated and could potentially leave your site!
We always want our visitors to be spending more time on our site – so creating a user-friendly website structure will help to increase their time spent (which, naturally, creates a higher chance of them clicking through for an offer or service).
Increasing the number of pages per visit can be achieved through having a clear and easy-to-follow website structure, and of course, we want to decrease that bounce rate!
The second reason for having a good website structure is, you guessed it, SEO.
How? It helps Google to understand what’s most important on your website, and it helps it to find new content that you created or any changes that you’re making, and index it quickly (so that way, if you write a new blog post, or you include a new product, it’ll show up on Google faster).
It’ll also distribute your link authority around your key pages, so the ways that you’re linking between your pages can also demonstrate to Google what the most important pages, products, and posts on your website are so that people are more likely to see those no matter where they land.
Having a really clear idea of how all of your pages fit together can also prevent you from having duplicate content, or from cannibalizing your own content (which is a fancy SEO way of saying, “ranking so much for one term that Google doesn’t know where to send the traffic when people are looking for you”).
what your ideal site structure should look like
Now when you’re thinking about the actual architecture of your website, I want you to think of this as a pyramid.
At the top of your pyramid is the home page.
You only have one homepage on your website – that’s the root domain of the site. And chances are if people are visiting your website, they’re probably going to your homepage to get an idea of what you do.
The main idea here is that there’s one homepage on your site, and that’s the most important page in terms of how people navigate around your site.
The next level of your pyramid is your categories and subcategories and this is especially important for e-commerce sites where people are selling lots and lots of products.
Think about how Amazon has the tabs at the top of the website with different categories like, “Best Sellers”, “Amazon Basics,” etc.
These are the most important things/categories that Amazon wants you to see when you get to their site – and you should aim for the same thing!
So if you’re running a product-based business and you have a lot of different categories, or if you’re running a media site where you’re talking about a bunch of different topics, categories should be the next level of importance in your site architecture and your navigation structure.
But for those of us who are service businesses or those who have simpler product lines, you don’t necessarily need to include your categories in your main navigation. Instead, your second tier could simply be, “the ways you can work with me”.
The bottom level of our pyramid is those individual pages, posts, products, and portfolio items. These are really specific, detailed items like blog posts, individual products, or maybe a particular project that you worked on in your portfolio. It’s NOT the overarching umbrella that you would find on your homepage or a collection of things that you would find in your categories.
If you follow this pyramid structure, it should be pretty easy to navigate through your website because we know what the most important pieces are.
get to every page in 4 clicks or less
You also want to make sure that you don’t have to click forever and ever to get down to those specific pages. You want what’s called a flat architecture so that you don’t have to click more than four clicks away from your homepage to get to any page on your site.
This is called your click depth and Google actually uses this information to figure out how important every page is. The closer it is to the homepage, the more important that page is.
So if you’re promoting a specific offer, a good idea would be to include that right on your homepage. Or maybe you have a really popular category that people buy from a lot or a sale that you’re running – these would be best placed on your homepage!
And then maybe you’d also want to include a link to that directly on your menu so that way people can get to it right from your homepage without needing to click through a bunch of different tabs.
The idea is that we want to make your site architecture as simple as possible – for your website visitors AND for Google.