Good site structure is at the core of your site’s usability and SEO. The better your site structure, the better your chances of improving your search rankings. Site structure also allows your users to navigate and browse your site with ease. Do you want to make sure your website is loved by both users and search engines? Here is everything you need to know.
What Is Site Structure and Why Is It Important?
Site structure is simply the way information is arranged on your website. It refers to how your online content is presented, organized into pages and linked to one another. A well-executed website structure is what prepares you for SEO success.
For your website to appear in search results, search engines need to find and understand all of its content. They do so through a process called crawling. Once search engines have recognized your pages, they will index your content to make it appear on the SERP. If your website is unorganized, search engines will have a hard time finding the right pages, let alone ranking them high.
Site structure isn’t just a guide for search engines either, it also benefits your audience. Logical navigation means better user experience and allows your visitors to find what they are looking for, faster. A website that is designed like a maze will only leave its users lost and confused, and nobody wants that. This is especially true since search engines take into account user behavior to determine a website’s ranking. As a general rule, if your users are happy, so is Google.
What Is a Good Site Structure?
There is no one size fits all in terms of website structure which will largely depend on your industry, unique business goals and target audience.
Your website exists to drive conversions and how many people convert depends on how effective your website structure is. A good site structure helps you achieve your business goals by serving your users’ search intent first and foremost. It is important to organize your information in a way that mirrors your users’ needs so they can find what they’re looking for, and convert.
Below are some examples of what site structures may look like depending on the type of business you have:
Good Site Structure for eCommerce
Let’s say you sell clothes online, your e-commerce store is meant to showcase your products. One way to organize your content is to create category pages, which in turn could be divided into collections, which in turn could link to different product pages. If you organize the products you sell into adequate categories, your site structure could look a bit like this:
Good Site Structure for a Service
Same goes if you own, say, a spa. Here, your website is also meant to present more information about your business, the services you offer, etc.
Good Site Structure for a Blog
If you have a blog, the purpose of your website is to share information about specific topics.  The ideal way to organize your content is to group your blog posts into categories based on relevancy. Let’s say you are blogging about food and cooking, your posts could be divided by type of dishes (breakfast, dessert, etc.).
The Importance of Internal Linking
An essential step to implementing your site structure is to make good use of internal links. Internal linking is the process through which web pages are grouped and connected together.
When search engines crawl your website, they start with the homepage and follow links from there to access and index more pages. Having good internal linking means that search engines can understand your site structure and discover your pages more effectively. Similarly, internal linking allows users to navigate from one page to the other with ease, increasing time spent on your site. This means that the more internal links you have across your website, the better.
As a rule of thumb, every one of your website pages should have a link to and a link from another page of your website. In other words, all your website pages need to be reached through internal links. Search engines use these internal links to recognize the most important pages on your website and rank them accordingly. The main pages should thus be the pages with the most internal links pointing to them. Once you have identified your most valuable pages, make sure to link to them from other related pages of your website.
One last thing to remember is that it is not just the number of links that counts as a ranking factor but also the context of the link. Google uses the link text itself as well as the content around the link to gather clues about the content of the page and properly understand and rank it.
Breaking up Content Into Pages
Site structure is also about how you organize your content so it’s equally important to talk about the pages displaying your content. Let’s quickly explore the different types of web pages that you can have on your site.
Core Pages
These are the pages that exist on every website, namely the homepage, the about page, the contact page.
Homepage: The homepage is what holds your site structure together. If you think of your website as a pyramid, the homepage is the page at the very top of it. It should link to your most important pages (categories) which in turn link to other pages (subcategories), and so on. A little bit like this:
Contact page: On your contact page, include all contact information, whether that’s the physical location of your store, your email address and phone number or links to your social media accounts. The idea is to give as many contact options as possible.
About page: This page is the place where your users get to know more about you, who you are and what you do. Keep it clear and concise and give your visitors a reason to trust you as a business.
Other Pages for Your Content
Once your essential pages are out of the way, it might be time to add more content to your website. Are you wondering what options are out there? Below is a list of web pages that you can choose from to display your content.
Blog posts: Blogs are an easy way to create content, build authority on a topic and attract users to your website.
Product pages: These are the bread and butter of any e-commerce site. A good product page can serve as both SEO content and an ad landing page.
Case studies & original research: Case studies and unique data are an excellent way to deepen your content and showcase your product or service.
How-tos, guides, tips, FAQs: These are great to build trust, help your users make an educated decision on your products or services.
With so many types of pages to choose from, it might be difficult to pick what’s best for your website. To identify the relevant content formats, think about what you wish to achieve with your pages. If you are trying to drive sales, creating compelling product pages could be your main focus. Want more readers? Pay attention to carefully crafted long-form blog articles. Keep in mind how your content aligns with your goals and users.
What About Single Page Websites?
If you only have a very limited amount of content to showcase, you could also potentially aggregate everything into one single page. Instead of building different core pages, it’s possible to set up a one page website with several sections. In this case, all of the site’s content sits within the same page and scrolling allows users to access the different key elements. You still need to display the information found on the core pages that we mentioned earlier but on one page instead of several.
Single page websites are easier to set up but their optimization requires a bit more effort. Because this type of site structure does not allow for dedicated pages, internal linking from one page to the other is not possible and you can only link from one section to another on the same page. You only have one page that can rank for everything you want to rank for. This means that each section on your page needs to be optimized for its own keyword. Finally, you need to make sure that your page isn’t too long to load or you might end up losing some precious visitors. Having everything on a single page is absolutely fine but to maximize its optimization potential, you could consider creating dedicated core pages.
Content Strategy for Your Site: An Overview
After researching your keywords, defining your audience, identifying your business goals and choosing your relevant KPIs, it is time to put some flesh on the bones of your website and create content. Once you have decided on your topics as well as their formats, how do you go about actually planning your content?
In the beginning, you might want to add new content pages to your website as you go but the more content you have, the harder it will become to keep track of. The easier path is to implement a robust content strategy that fits your site structure from the get-go. First, organize your list of keywords into broad umbrella topics. For each overarching category, create an in-depth article that focuses on the more general keyword and monitor the page’s performance. From this pillar page, you can then create additional subpages that illustrate a particular point of the broad category and focus on more long-tail keywords. Finally, link all of these subpages to their mother page and back. Each pillar page will thus be supported by multiple cluster pages that are related to the same topic. This type of organization creates a clear hierarchy between the pages and makes the navigation experience that much more seamless for users.
Deciding on a Structure for a New Site
Now is the time to tie everything together and put the theory into practice. Here is a step by step summary of how to plan your site structure.
Identify your business goals and target audience: They will drive your website structure.
Do your keyword research: This will help you identify content opportunities.
Check out your competition: For a little inspiration.
Plan out in advance: Before building your website, create an overview of all the pages you need based on your business goals.
Create a simple and logical navigation: Make your main pages easily accessible from the homepage.
Organize your URL structure: your URL structure should simply follow your site hierarchy.
Connect your pages with internal linking: Every one of your web pages should have a link to and a link from another page of your website.
So there you have it – the ins and outs of a great website structure. Once you have finished working on your website structure, the next step is to optimize the structure of each page too.
In This Article
What Is Site Structure and Why Is It Important?
What Is a Good Site Structure?
The Importance of Internal Linking
Breaking up Content Into Pages
Core Pages
Other Pages for Your Content
What About Single Page Websites?
Content Strategy for Your Site: An Overview
Deciding on a Structure for a New Site