When it comes to making your website more visible on search engines (aka SEO), the architecture of your site is super important. Getting it right from the start is key, but sometimes new ideas emerge or you may find yourself dealing with the aftermath of previous website owners who made not-so-great decisions.
Whether your site just needs a few minor tweaks or a complete overhaul, taking a good look at your website’s architecture is always a good idea.
In this article, we’ll go over:
- What site architecture actually means
- Tips for creating an SEO-friendly site architecture
- How to make small changes to your site’s architecture
- How to completely redo your site’s architecture
But hold on, we’re not done yet! There’s still more helpful info to come.
What is Website Architecture?
Have you ever visited a website and felt lost or confused about where to find what you’re looking for? That’s where site architecture comes in. It’s like a roadmap that organizes and presents the content on a website in a clear and logical manner.
Good site architecture ensures that both human visitors and search engine crawlers can easily navigate your website. It helps visitors understand what your website is about and what they can expect to find, while also making it easier for search engines to analyze and display your content in search results.
By optimizing your site architecture for SEO, you not only make it more attractive and user-friendly, but you also increase your chances of being found by people who are searching for the types of products, services or information you offer. So it’s definitely worth putting some effort into making sure your site architecture is working in your favor!
Best Practices for SEO-Friendly Site Architecture
Google gives each website a certain amount of time for its bots to scan it. This determines how many pages the bot will look at on your site. To make sure that these bots scan and understand the most important pages on your site, as well as as many of them as possible, it’s important to follow good SEO practices when building your website.
Here are four useful tips to help you build a website that will ensure Google’s bots can find, understand, and index your most important pages:
1. Use an SEO-friendly URL structure
When it comes to creating new pages or blog posts, keeping Google happy with simple and clear URLs is important. To achieve this, here are some tips for your team to keep in mind:
- Use lowercase letters in your URLs.
- Connect different words with hyphens, so your URLs are easy to read.
- Keep your URLs short and sweet, with no more than 128 characters.
- Make your URLs human-friendly by including descriptive keywords and your main search query for the page.
- Organize your content logically by using categories and subcategories in your URLs.
- Avoid using session IDs in your URLs, as they can be confusing.
- If you want to identify URLs that are too long or broken links, SemRush’s Site Audit Tool can help you out.
Following these tips can help you create URLs that are easy to read and understand, both for Google and for your human readers.
2. Use a sitemap
It’s important to make it easy for search engine bots to discover your website’s content, and one way to do this is by using a sitemap. Google recommends using two types of sitemaps – XML sitemaps and RSS/Atom feeds – for the best crawling results. These sitemaps guide bots to all the pages you want them to scan and highlight any recent updates you’ve made to those pages. The good news is that Google offers easy-to-follow instructions on how to create sitemaps, so you don’t need to be an expert to set them up. By using sitemaps, you can improve the visibility of your content and make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for on your site.
3. Consider how pages flow to and from each other
When creating interlinks on your website, it’s important to pay attention to the words you use as anchor text. These are the words that are clickable and lead to another page, and they can give search engine bots and humans valuable information about the linked content.
The position of the links on your website can also affect their significance. Pages that are linked to in your website’s navigation, for example, are considered more important by search engines because they can be accessed from any page on your site with just a single click.
To make it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for, it’s recommended that every page on your site be reachable within five clicks. You can use the SEMrsuh Site Audit tool to identify any pages that can’t be reached and how many clicks it takes to access each page.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can improve your website’s user experience, help search engines understand your content better, and make it easier for people to find the information they need on your site.
4. Ensure a Secure, User-Friendly Experience
To rank higher in search results and give your users a better experience, you need to focus on certain aspects that matter to search engines:
- Speed: Keep your page load times fast.
- Mobile compatibility: Ensure your website looks good on different devices.
- Security: Use the https protocol to keep your website safe.
- Clear navigation: Avoid cluttered pages with too many links.
By prioritizing these factors, you can improve your website’s performance and provide a positive user experience. Once you have these basics in place, let’s take a look at how to fine-tune or overhaul your website’s architecture for even better results.
Tweaking Your Website Architecture
If you want to improve your website’s performance with just a few changes, start by addressing these common issues:
- Optimize crawl efficiency and reduce wasted crawl budget
Help bots easily find your pages by setting up a sitemap and robots.txt file. These tools tell search engines which pages to crawl and which to ignore. Be careful not to have too many redirects, as they slow down the crawling process.
- Fix duplicate content issues
Having both a www and non-www version or http and https version of your site can cause duplicate content issues. This makes it look like you have two different websites, which can negatively impact your SEO. Use a 301 redirect in your .htaccess file to resolve this. SemRush’s Advanced plan can also help you identify duplicate content on your site.
- Examine technical site architecture elements
Check for technical issues like server errors and make sure your meta tags are unique and optimized.
You can easily identify these issues by using SEMRush’s Site Audit tool. It will analyze your site and provide you with a list of things that need fixing, along with helpful tips and recommendations. For example, it can check for duplicate title tags across your site.
Overhauling Your Website Architecture
When you’re building a website, or if you’re trying to fix issues with your website’s organization, there are some important steps you can take to make sure your site is easy to navigate and serves your users’ needs. Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Think about your users
To start, you need to understand who your users are and what they want to do on your site. Consider creating user personas, which can help you design a website that’s tailored to your target audience. By mapping out your customers’ journey, you can get a clear picture of what each type of user will want to do on your site.
Step 2: Use keyword research
Keyword research is a powerful tool that can help you understand your users’ information needs. It can also help you identify new ideas and topics that you may not have considered. You can use SEMRush’s keyword research tool to see what topics your competitors are covering and where you can add your own unique angle.
Step 3: Plan your content structure
As you plan your website’s content structure, think about how pages relate to each other and organize them into logical categories. You can use a sitemap or wireframe to help you visualize your site’s structure. Make sure to place your most important pages in the root directory, which comes right after the domain name. This will help those pages get more visibility in search results. Also, don’t forget to consider navigation and how users will move from one area of your site to another.
Step 4: Get feedback
It’s important to get feedback from users and colleagues at various stages of the process. This will help you identify any issues and fix them before you launch your site. Conducting usability testing is a great way to gather feedback from representative users.
By following these steps, you can create a well-organized and user-friendly website that will serve your users’ needs and help you achieve your business goals.
Wait, You’re Not Done Yet!
Now that you’ve successfully set up your website’s ideal structure, it’s important to keep it in good shape. As your website grows, it’s easy for new issues to arise, such as pages being created in the wrong folders or duplicate versions being accidentally made. To stay on top of these issues, it’s a good idea to set up an automated report that alerts you when they occur. With SemRush’s Advanced Plan, you can easily create this report and more. Give it a try and keep your website running smoothly!