Getting your site to the top of search engine results practically guarantees people will see your website – after all, imForza reports that 93 percent of all online experiences start with a search engine, and that search is still the leading driver of traffic. The better your website’s structure, the better the likelihood you will move up the search results.
Whenever you set out to create a site with the end goal of optimizing it for search results, it is important to sit down and design the site’s hierarchy first. Draw out a hierarchical diagram of the categories and pages that are contained within them before you code a single line. Keep your site’s architecture logical – there should only be two to seven main categories, and the number of subcategories shouldn’t get too out of control either. If one of your main categories has four times as many subcategories as another, it may mean your site’s hierarchy needs to be reconsidered. If you are choosing a template over design from the ground up, this is still an important aspect of your legwork for building a site – too many categories or subcategories could clutter a template quickly. By taking these steps ahead of time, you will save yourself the effort and time it takes to redesign your site later.
Designing your hierarchy before you sit down to build a site gives you a chance to judge the depth of your design. A shallow site design in which it only takes few clicks to see you deepest content is always more navigable and indexable than deep site design. If a user must navigate eight pages to reach the content they are looking for, your site depth needs reworking. Sites that are deep rather than shallow also suffer from higher bounce rates, which means all your hard work getting someone to your site will be for nothing if they leave before they get to the content.
Keeping your site’s depth under control makes it much easier for search engines to show your main page and then your internal links as well. If you are unfamiliar, internal links are the indented links shown in search engines like Google that direct to popular categories of content in an indexed site that has come up as a search result. They can’t be requested and it isn’t something you can pay for – Google’s algorithm automatically generates these results based on your site’s design structure.
Internal links are of immense value in terms of SEO – they direct users to your most valuable content as well as increase click-throughs and shorten the length of time it takes to make a conversion.
Be sure that there is room for the content that will bring people to your site. Too many websites suffer from the problem of “microcontent,” in which a subcategory on a site contains so little information that search engines simply ignore it. Make sure that the space is there for content – Quicksprout reports that the average length of content on pages that rank in the top 10 search results on Google for any keyword have at least 2000 words. If your site has a link or microcategory like “Phone Number,” combine it with other subcategories to create a more functional and content rich page such as “Contact Us.” It may seem obvious, but be sure your site design isn’t encouraging pages that will be forever invisible to search engines.