SEO the Right Way: Website Architecture and Site Structure
In this day and age, there’s an abundance of content and media that populate websites, platforms and apps. With that steady increase and shift in the complexities of content, it’s only normal that websites are also becoming far more advanced and complex. With that notion in mind, it’s important that organizations and brands map out their site’s structure to make it more organized and improve the user experience.
The files on your computer are a great example that illustrates the benefits of optimized site architecture. To shed further light on the value it brings; imagine that you’re searching for a specific piece of content and if your filing structure is a total mess, it’s going to be frustrating to find it. However, if your content is neatly organized into folders and subfolders, it’s easier to find and it doesn’t diminish the user experience by adding any complications.
What is Website Architecture?
When broken down, website architecture is a simple concept that arranges your site’s content by placing it in the areas that are the easiest to find. The content is usually placed up to three levels of depth.
Home > Product Category > Subcategory > Products
Website architecture isn’t just a process that should be implemented to e-commerce stores, it can be applied to every website to make navigation easier. Furthermore, improving the user experience helps to lower bounce rates and drive website visitors closer to a conversion.
By getting inside your visitor’s minds and using data to analyze their behavior, you can develop your website architecture and content structuring in a logical way. We can hear your mind ticking as you worry that you have thousands of pages that need to be organized, don’t worry, you can develop a seamless user experience that can cater to the needs of millions of visitors.
If you’re scratching your head and you’re still a little confused, here are the five main factors that make up a website’s architecture:
- Main navigation: this consists of menus, footers and sidebars. This often helps to guide your site’s visitors to main areas of your website which then leads to more specific areas.
- Internal links: this directs your visitors to other pages on your site through hyperlinks.
- Content logic: this helps visitors to easily and intuitively establish the relationship between “parent” and “children” topics and pages.
- Structure of URLs: this works to identify to your visitors exactly where they are on the site based on the URL structure.
- Technical SEO: the technical optimization of your website and how it ranks is vastly important. Getting an expert SEO audit can dramatically help to make your site architecture as efficient as possible.
The bottom line is that effective site architecture is the process of organizing your content and optimizing navigation to make it simple for humans and robots to access and consume.
How to Create a Website Architecture Strategy
Creating a website architecture plan is no easy feat and it won’t happen overnight. There are several factors take into account when creating a strategy that is essentially a complete overhaul of your website. You’ll need to consider your target audience, the competition, SEO architecture, your internal resources and the scale of content that occupies your website.
The entire process will require you to deploy patience and logical thinking. While the process can seem a little daunting, there are best practices that can help you restructure your site architecture without missing any essential details.
Size up the Scope
First things first, prior to working on the site’s architecture, you’re going to have to figure out the scope of the entire project. Gauging the size and scope of the entire project is going to help you determine how and when you will reach your goals.
It’s important to establish whether you just want to rehaul your old website, restructure the site’s directories or if you’re setting the wheels in motion for your new website. Being able to distinguish between the three will help you to allocate time and resources to the project.
Identify Target Audience
There’s no point in having a website if you’re not able to identify who your website is intended for. Every touchpoint that your brand has should have an identified target audience and your website specifically: every decision made about the site’s architecture should be focused on how to reach your target audience and improve their user experience.
Keyword research at scale plays a big part in learning to identify your target audience. This helps you to distinguish how your visitors search for the products or services that you offer. Whether you outsource to a digital expert or your SEO expert is located in-house, it’s important to gain analytics on who visits your site and how they’re finding you.
Aligning your audience with mapping out your site’s architecture is invaluable. Visitor habits should run parallel to the website’s navigation to ensure that visitors have a seamless user experience when navigating your website.
Website Architecture: Tips & Tricks
After reading this article, you most likely have a better idea of what site architecture is and how you can improve your own. We want you to have a solid website that ranks organically and is a dream to navigate, so we’ve added a few more tips and tricks for you to follow.
Use Your Head
That’s right, common sense is a very real and it should be used as often as possible. The key takeaway to developing a logical site architecture is to make sure your website isn’t “too busy”, that means don’t overwhelm your site’s visitors with features and choice paralysis.
Keep the site’s structure simple with a consistent hierarchy and subsections that lead the visitor to their desired location. Site architectures that are considered to the most successful will usually only have a minute number of over-arching sections.
Evaluate Existing Content
Taking a good look at your website’s content and assets will help you evaluate which content is serving its purpose and providing value to your audience and which content can be scrapped.
It’s important to keep an eye out for content such as:
- Content that doesn’t perform in any manner, that includes content that hasn’t driven any impressions, organic clicks, conversions, goal completions or genuine quality in regards to SEO.
- Content of your own that actually competes against itself, also known as cannibalizing content. This type of content will worsen your ranking in search engines and should be reviewed.
- Outdated content such as news items about events and press releases that are old and don’t generate any traffic or conversions can be disposed of.
The Bottom Line
Website architecture and site structure can be difficult if you let them overwhelm you. That’s why it’s important to be patient and logical with your approach to your website. Executing a site architecture overhaul and update can be a big task if you have a significant amount of content. Furthermore, it may require skill sets and knowledge in fields that are currently outside of your scope.
You may need to outsource to an SEO professional that will save you time and resources in the long-run. In fact, optimizing your website architecture will eventually contribute to your bottom line by creating a seamless UX to improve customer engagement.