The Importance of Site Structure
When we think of SEO, the first thing that comes to mind is the use of keywords, Meta tags and link building. All too often, we forget the impact of a good site structure on search engine rankings.
Conversely, a badly structured site can have a detrimental effect on rankings, regardless of how much on page and off page work has been done. If your site is still struggling to top the rankings after all of your hard work then now’s the time to review its structure.
Straightforward and efficient navigation of a site is vital to a good user experience, however, Google needs to be able to easily crawl the site in order to index and rank your pages. To do this, you need to ensure that all pages have at least one internal link to them so that Google’s ‘spiders’ can find them when filtering through the site. For example, if you sell clothes on your website; it is no good having a ‘jumpers’ page that doesn’t link from anywhere as Google won’t be able to find it.
It is recommended that all sites should have an XML sitemap that can be submitted to Google. Submitting your sitemap to Google prompts them to re-index your site so when you add or change pages, you haven’t go to wait too long for Google to find them.
The structure of your site should mimic an even pyramid shape (or as even as you can make it; no area should be more than twice as long as any other). Using the below diagram as an example:
If it is feasible; make a ‘map’ showing the current layout and levels of your site. If your site structure does not follow the pyramid shape shown above, then think about how you can move areas around. Some areas of the site may be similar and can be categorised into one section.
The URLs need to flow though down the levels, for example the URL for the ‘Kent’ page would be www.home.co.uk/areas-covered/kent. The Ashford page would then be www.home.co.uk/areas-covered/kent/ashford. This does not change the user experience in anyway (as long as they can find what they want in 3 levels or less) but it makes it much easier for Google spiders to crawl through the site.
The reason that this has an effect on your rankings is all to do with the authority of each page. Having all of your product pages on level 1 with the ‘product’ category page and ‘areas covered’ page is going to seriously dilute the authority of every page on that level. Levels 2 and 3 will then have less authority flowing through from the pages above them making them all less important to Google.
Making these changes may involve quite a bit of work creating necessary redirects; but it will have a significant effect on your rankings and ultimately on your business.