The appropriate website structure is important not only for SEO or Search Engine Optimization, but also for UX or user experience. Your website structure tells Google which website pages you consider the most important. In fact, site structure also determines which content pieces on your site will enjoy the highest rankings in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Further, you can control site structure, making it one of the on-page SEO factors.
What is website structure?
Website structure is a format according to which a site’s content is organized. Websites often, if not usually, have different and related content. There are a variety of topics that this content discusses, and they are present in the various web pages and posts of the particular website.
Site structure is the format or organization schema. In simple words, the structure of your website is how you group, link, and present the content you have created to website visitors. Sites with a good structure help in user navigation besides being friendly to Google bots that crawl your website pages and index them. A good number of different taxonomic attributes like tags and categories help you create a good website structure. Other essential parts of such structure are:
- Internal Links
- Breadcrumbs, etc.
With the passage of time and adding new content to your website, the resulting clutter is only natural. As we mentioned earlier, keeping things organized logically will help you in many respects.
In the absence of a proper website structure, all the various types of content that you have put up on your site will get lost in the clutter. Visitors, Google, and not even yourself will be in an excellent position to find the best content that you have painstakingly created or paid for.
What are the types of website structure?
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There can be a number of types of website structures (four, in fact) that you can choose from for organizing your website’s content. Through proper use, designers and developers will be better placed to understand the architecture your website information follows.
- The hierarchical model
You can structure your websites in a hierarchical order if you create web apps that involve tons of data. It is, perhaps, one of the most common website structure formats. We can compare the hierarchical model to trees with trunks and branches. The homepage acts as your website trunk, while the categories and other webpages function as your website branches. Some leading news websites like CNN and BBC use the hierarchical model among the different types of website structures.
- The Sequential model
If your website involves process flows, then sequential models are your best options. The sequential model facilitates the development of flows for particular processes.
If you are onboarding users of new accounts or need them to adopt a step-by-step sequential process, then this website will suit your purposes the best. The model makes UX design tasks relatively easy. One of the most prominent examples of sequential website structure is WikiHow.
- The Matrix model
Websites adopting the Matrix structure model let users choose their next destination on their websites. It is one of the oldest formats in use in the online world, and the model works non-traditionally and is unique.
As we said, users can choose their next destination on the websites that follow this website structure paradigm. Website Search functionality and internal links are the user’s best navigation options for optimum user experience. The online knowledge resource Wikipedia is a leading example of the matrix model.
- The Database model
The logic behind the structure of databases resemble the structure of information in websites using this model.
This type of information architecture adopts a dynamic approach to website structures. While developing websites based on this model, the designer needs to think and design from bottom to up. This structure needs them to adopt taxonomic best practices and combine correct webpage metadata while maintaining a solid information architecture. A leading website exponent of such design is the content platform Medium.
What is the Importance of Website Structure?
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One critical factor that adds to website structure’s importance is SEO. Let’s examine the top three reasons why webmasters must pay close attention to the importance of website structure they use:
1. It Guides Google’s Crawler
Your website structure is what essentially guides Google’s crawling bots. It is through this information schema that the bots know the content that matters to you the most. It tells the bot in its search engine language what your site is about and the products or services you provide.
Google’s bots follow all of the outbound and incoming links to a website, and according to the result, it assesses the relationship between the different pages of your website. The website structure functions as a guide to Googlebot, adding to the importance of website structure and making it a critical part of SEO Strategy.
2. Do Not Compete with your Own Web Content
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Another important factor making site structure essential is that in its absence, you will end up competing with your won webpages and posts. It is prevalent for websites to have several topics on a central theme. SEO sites talk about SEO; tech sites concentrate on technologies that are deeply interlinked. Granted, they may not discuss the same topic, but Googlebot won't know which one is most important unless we show it through our site structure.
Suppose you have tons of content, but if you can't tell Google which is the most valuable, then the scope for optimization of your content for drawing in visitors gets reduced significantly. Consequently, all of your content will compete with each other for attention. This can be avoided through a proper internal linking structure, but that is another topic altogether. In short, your site structure determines the posts Google sees at the top of your content pile.
3. It helps users get a better experience
We already talked about a lot of things, and we very, very briefly touched upon how important proper site structure is for UX and not only SEO. Of course, good UX is a ranking factor in Google, but website structure is essential in UX on its own.
For proper navigation, users must understand your website structure and browse it accordingly. It helps users in benefiting more from your content, and navigation is critical. If you adopt good UX practices, it will be reflected in higher conversions meaning you will enjoy more tremendous success on your website goals.
Your first goal as someone in charge of building and maintaining a website is addressing user issues. It is often seen that website structures hinder proper navigation instead of making it easier. Proper website structure makes websites more usable and adds to the user experience. Thus, website structures are essential to crafting excellent user experiences by making them more intuitive and easy to discover.
How to create a website structure?
The following pointers will help you in creating website structures or enhancing the existing ones for your website:
- Get rid of old irrelevant content
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Online stores that are not going to sell a product anymore will be best off by removing product pages. But then there's the problem with existing pages that link to your website. If you remove pages without addressing the issue of existing links, it may and most probably affect your SEO efforts. Redirects are your best option to get rid of them without losing the SEO advantage that comes with links
- Make a comprehensive evaluation of your existing website categories
You should try your best to ensure your website categories are of equal size. Just think up dividing hundreds of individual papers. If you stack most of them up in one pile, it wouldn't be of that much help, would it? It would defeat the idea behind organizing your content by creating website structures.
But it is pretty natural to have a lot of content on a specific topic as it might be particularly relevant. This case is typical for personal blogs. In such cases, if your categories are becoming unmanageable in size, you should consider breaking them into multiple smaller niche categories. If you fail to achieve that, your posts within a variety might get lost in the heap of posts for that category.
A general rule of thumb that should drive your category evaluation is when any particular category assumes twice the size of any other. If such a situation emerges, you need to consider whether to split or merge categories.
- Make a better internal linking structure
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While internal linking structure demands a post, the following information should help you get started. Internal links are an understated asset, and practicing them effectively and diligently helps both users and Googlebot.
That wraps up our website structure guide. We can't stress how much website structure is to both SEO and UX. You really need to choose a website platform that will let you specify the URL to posts and pages. Here’s to excellence in the your website's form, content, and structure!