How to Optimize Your Website Structure for SEO (Improve Your Rankings in 7 Steps!)
To optimize your website structure for SEO, you must identify the hierarchical pyramid of your content first. Then you must organize it to show Google which pieces of content are the most relevant — and therefore deserve to rank higher in search engine results.
In this article, we’ll discuss why your website structure is important and what are the best approaches to make the hierarchical structure of your site more SEO-friendly.
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Table of contents
- What is website structure optimization?
- How does website structure affect SEO?
- How can we improve website structure?
- 3 Basic types of site structure
- 7 Steps to improve site structure
- 1. Define a clear content hierarchy to improve your website structure
- 2. Get an SEO-friendly WordPress Theme to ease your optimization
- 3. The URL structure of your website matters for SEO
- 4. Optimize your Site Title & Tagline for SEO
- 5. Create SEO-optimized Categories
- 6. Organize your Menus to optimize site structure
- 7. Submit your website XML sitemap to Google Search Console
- Which tools help to optimize a website?
What Is Website Structure Optimization?
Website structure optimization is the practice of organizing your website’s architecture and navigation according to the hierarchy of content.
In a nutshell, through categories, parent categories, tags, breadcrumbs, menus, URLs, sitemaps, and other areas of your site, you define and group your site’s content into the appropriate spaces. In addition to making it easy for users to find content within your site.
How Does Website Structure Affect SEO?
Optimizing your website structure is essential for your SEO score. It informs Google of the hierarchy of importance of your pages and blog posts. Therefore, when your site is strategically structured, you take a more active role in influencing Google on which pages of your site you want to rank higher in searches.
A well-structured website has simple and clear navigation and all its subtopics are grouped correctly within the appropriate Main Topic.
In addition, your website structure also provides a more pleasant experience for visitors. This matters because it causes your bounce rate to decrease, which sends the message to Google that your site users find value in your content, so it must be quality content — and that matters to your SEO score as well.
So, the basic idea is that your website must be properly organized to make it easy for Google to “crawl” all of your website content.
How Can We Improve Website Structure?
Grouping blog posts and pages into appropriate categories and tags improves the structure of your website. The more content linked by internal links you have in each of your categories, the easier it is for search engines to understand that your website is rich in content on each subject.
Also, your site navigation should be well organized and easy for the user to find what they are looking for.
3 Basic Types Of Website Structure
You can structure your website following different content grouping logics. The type of website structure best suited for each case depends on the type of content that each website or blog provides.
Here are 3 basic types of website structure to be aware of:
Chronological Website Structure
Commonly used in blogs, the chronological website structure presents content in descending chronological order. That is, from the most recent publication to the oldest.
This type of site structure is similar in format to a journal.
For those who blog professionally, this option may not be as effective for SEO, making it a better choice for hobby blogging.
Hierarchical Website Structure
This website structure type is mentioned most in this article as it is most effective for business. The hierarchical website structure groups the contents of a website according to their relevance.
In a nutshell, a website or blog with a defined content hierarchy places cornerstone content and resource pages at the top. Then comes Parent Categories > Categories > Tags. And so on. Putting the most complete and relevant content at the top and narrowing down the subjects to group them into sub-categories and tags.
Webbed Website Structure
Webbed website structure has this name because the entire content of a website is displayed on the home page as a huge web. No logic accompanies this structure – only the feels dictate.
You’ll find this type of site structure often on broad niche sites like lifestyle, culinary, beauty, or pop culture.
7 Steps To Improve Your Website Structure & Improve Your SEO Rankings
Optimizing your website structure is crucial for SEO. Search engine optimization takes so many factors into account that it is not difficult to forget to build a good website structure. Not that Google forgets to pay attention to this detail.
The thing is, it’s no use having a collection of amazing content if you’re not informing Google properly where and how this content can be found, and to which universe each piece of content belongs.
Here are 7 steps to improve your website structure:
#1 Define A Clear Content Hierarchy To Improve Your Website Structure
To create an SEO-optimized website structure, you need to have a clear hierarchy defining the order of importance of all the content on your blog or website.
This order of importance must be like a pyramid: your Homepage is at the top, this is the first page of all and your business card.
So you have your URL structure > the Menus (linking to your main pages: about page, mission page, resources page, etc) > the Categories and Sub-Categories that lead to your posts.
Within your posts, there are internal links that take your site visitors to other posts and pages with related content, all done with the intention of keeping visitors as long as possible inside your site absorbing quality content.
This is a basic, clean and clear website structure that should be enough for Google to “get” your site. We’re going to talk in detail about each item in the pyramid or hierarchy in a minute.
Before, however, you need to understand that just organizing your website according to the structure above will not positively affect your SEO and rankings if there is no logic and pattern to your content itself.
To optimize your website structure for SEO, the content of your pages and blog posts must also be SEO-optimized according to your niche, blog topic (s) and main target keywords.
In other words, every step you take when you are working on your blog or website should ideally be planned out in advance, as everything is connected.
Like the human body, the site structure of your website is like the members and organs of your site (the whole body): when one part doesn’t work right, it will certainly affect the functionality of all the other parts.
So if you have a blog that:
- Is all about writing about random stuff that pops into your head
- Don’t have a defined niche (not even a broad niche)
- Don’t target any particular keyword
It will be impossible to improve your website structure. And the reason is that, from the beginning, what you do has no logic!
You see, even though elephants and dogs are animals that apparently have NOTHING to do with each other, biology classifies them both as mammals, following the logic that both are vertebrate animals that are nourished with milk when young by their mothers.
So, what is the logic behind your website? The kind of logic that groups elephants and dogs together as mammals?
Figuring out the logic behind your website content to create a website structure
If you’ve already identified your target audience, then you certainly have a considerable amount of topics and subtopics that target specific keywords in your niche, right?
Now, if not, I advise you to read this article on how to pick a niche blog you won’t regret later, as everything starts with your chosen niche.
After that, my second piece of advice is that you use KWFinder to find keywords within your blog niche with low SEO difficulty and high search volume. It costs less than $30 per month and this is an essential tool for you to know which keywords will sustainably bring you organic traffic.
If you just want to take a look, KWFinder has a 10-day free trial that doesn’t ask for a credit card!
Okay. Now that you’ve figured out the logic behind your website content, it’s time to optimize the hierarchical pyramid items one by one. So you’ll have a website structure that both Google and your visitors will love!
#2 Get An SEO-friendly WordPress Theme To Easily Optimize Your Website Structure (& Avoid Coding Drama)
An SEO-friendly WordPress Theme is the toolkit you need to improve your website structure and customize your website design, so your blog will look like a professional website.
One of the best things about WordPress Themes is that they allow you to customize your blog’s appearance and make it look just the way you want it without having to make manual changes to CSS (Cascading Style Sheet, a.k.a. coding & crying).
When you install a WordPress Theme, all the toolkits that come with the Theme appear in an easily accessible menu. And often with drag-and-drop functions!
What type of WP Theme should you choose to improve your website structure?
As much as you want your website to look fancy and all, you don’t need it. You don’t need to buy an expensive theme and/or spend hundreds of dollars on a bunch of different custom plugins just to add details that won’t make any difference to your goal, whatever it is (and I’m pretty sure it involves ranking the highest on Google).
In reality, too many plugins can easily slow down your site’s performance and increase your risk of getting hacked.
What you actually need is to purchase an affordable Premium Theme that has been coded with SEO in mind and that allows you to easily and quickly customize your site’s appearance so it looks professional, transmits your branding and is easy to navigate — even if you don’t know a single thing about coding.
That’s what will make the structure of your website SEO-optimized.
Here are two popular SEO-friendly WP Premium Themes to improve your website structure
Note that the following Themes are Premium. WordPress has a huge variety of Free Themes, but those come with limited customization tools, are often difficult to set up and are not looked upon very favorably by Google.
The good part, however, is that WP Premium Themes are not expensive and are usually sold as a one-time payment, meaning you will be able to use the Premium Theme for the rest of your life!
Divi Theme by Elegant Themes
Divi Theme is the most popular WordPress Theme in the world. With Divi Theme you’re able to customize your website as a professional designer without needing to know how to code.
Ashe PRO by WP Royal
Easy to use even for WP beginners and extremely affordable, Ashe PRO is an evident choice if you want to build a professional and stunningly beautiful website, but don’t want to spend much for it.
How to install a WordPress Theme:
- After purchasing your WordPress Theme, you will be able to download a .zip file containing the Premium version of your chosen Theme.
- Log into your WP Dashboard as an Administrator. In the left menu, head to Appearance > Themes.
- Select Add New. Then Upload Theme.
- Select Choose File and upload your Premium Theme.
- You probably will be asked to enter your license API key to receive further automatic theme updates, which your Theme provider usually sends you via email when confirming your purchase. If you did not receive the email, you can find your license API key inside your purchasing account.
- Now it’s time to choose a predefined style and start filling it with your style and information.
#3 The URL Structure Of Your Website Matters For SEO
Your website’s URL structure also matters for the overall structure of your site and your SEO score.
But please note that it’s important to be very careful when making changes to your website’s URL structure as this can be fatal for SEO.
For this reason, ideally, you should have your URL structures all set up as soon as you create your site or while your site is still not getting much traffic and you haven’t started sharing links to your pages to promote your site.
So, if you are going to make changes to your URLs but your site is not brand new, I recommend you use All in One SEO to easily redirect your URLs/slugs to the new ones, so you won’t miss any traffic or be punished by Google.
And don’t forget to FULL BACKUP your site before any changes. If you don’t have a WordPress backup plugin already, BackupBuddy is your best buddy for the service!
Remove the “www” from your website’s main URL
Website URLs containing “www” give a really outdated impression. Fortunately, it’s really simple to make your website appear as “yourwebsite.com” instead of “www.yourwebsite.com”. Here’s how:
IMPORTANT: Again, don’t forget to backup your website prior to making changes, ok?
From your WP Dashboard, logged as an Administrator, head to Settings > General in the left menu.
Under General Settings, change both the fields WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) from “https://www.yourwebsite.com” to “https://yourwebsite.com” (obviously, you will see your actual domain name, not “yourwebsite.com”, just to make it clear).
Note: You may be redirected to your WordPress website log-in page after removing the “www”, but don’t start pulling your hair out if you realize you can’t log into your website anymore!
Your web hosting is probably finishing the redirecting! Wait a few minutes and try again. If you’re still not able to log into your site, email your web hosting customer support or open the Live Chat inside your web hosting control panel, and tell them what has just happened.
They will finish the redirecting manually within a few minutes and you be able to log into your site again in no time! 🙂 It has happened to me with two of my blogs and is not usual at all, so don’t worry!
Setting up PERMALINKS
A permalink or permanent link is the full URL link structure for any piece of content on your website: blog posts, pages, categories, tags, etc.
Permalinks are intended to remain the same for many years to come, because when you change your permalinks, visitors become unable to reach your site through the old links. Even the ones that appear on Google and the ones shared on social media.
Think about it: someone finds on Pinterest a pin that links to your blog. When they click, that permalink doesn’t work anymore. Then the person you’ll land on a “404 Not Found” page.
And don’t have hopes that the person who clicked on the now-invalid link will type the page they intended to visit in your search bar. What they will likely do is go back to the search engine to click on the link to someone else’s website. And that means you’ll lose pageviews.
Also, 404 Errors are terrible red flags to both Google and Pinterest. They affect your SEO score negatively.
That’s why you need to wisely set your permalinks from the beginning. But if you didn’t, you must redirect your old permalinks to the new ones, as I said above. You can do it easily using All in One SEO, which is the best SEO plugin for WordPress.
How to set up your permalinks properly, in an SEO-friendly manner:
- From your WP Dashboard, logged as an Administrator, head to Settings > Permalinks in the left menu.
- Under Common Settings, select Post name (that will be your post and pages link structure).
- Under Optional, fill the field Category base with “category” (skipping the quotations marks!), and the field Tag base with “tag” (again, skipping the quotations marks!).
Pages and blogs posts URL
Your post and page slugs (the unique URL of each page following the / ) should be straightforward and contain the main words of your page/blog post title — not the entire title.
For example, the title of this very article you’re reading now is “How to Optimize Your Website Structure for SEO (Improve Your Rankings in 7 Steps!)”. However, the blog post slug is “optimize-website-structure-seo-improve-rankings”.
No “to”, no “your”, no”for” and no numbers.
#4 Optimize Your Site Title & Tagline For SEO
Your Site Title and Tagline are your website identity. They tell Google and your visitors what is your website all about. And they must include the most important keywords of your business.
Site Title: Your blog name + a concise message informing what you/your blog does.
I.e. Be Productive Every Day is mostly about productivity and making money blogging, so our Site Title is “Be Productive Every Day | Best hacks to boost productivity & build a profitable blog.”
Tagline: Tell in a few words (preferably less than 80 characters, but if you’re hopeless, don’t go beyond 100!) what you do, what can be found on your blog, how you will help your readers, etc. Remember to always include your blog’s main keywords. (Again, if you’re clueless about which keywords you should use, you can discover the best in your niche using KWFinder by Mangools.)
How to edit your Site Title and Tagline:
From your WP Dashboard, logged as an Administrator, head to Settings > General in the left menu. Under General Settings, fill the fields Site Title and Tagline.
#5 Create SEO-Optimized Categories
Categories primarily allow you to keep your website organized and easy to navigate. And they’re vital for a well-structured website. Also, Categories send Google additional information about what your blog posts are about.
So, to start creating categories, try to think of 3 to 5 categories to group and organize the subjects of your blog topics. But always keep in mind that, in some cases, you should create a Sub-Category instead of a new Category.
For example, Be Productive Every Day has a Category called “Money” which has two sub-categories called “Make Money Online” and “Personal Finance” as they both belong to the “Money” universe and there is no reason to separate them.
How Many Categories Should A Website Have?
A website or blog should have as many categories as needed to organize all of its content.
Similar content, but “narrowed down”, should be grouped into sub-categories within parent categories.
If you’re just starting a blog, 3-4 categories are probably ideal. So you focus on creating complementary quality content within those subjects before venturing out to broaden your reach.
How to create Categories:
- Log in to your WordPress Dashboard as an Administrator or Editor.
- In the left menu, hover Posts and select Categories.
- Enter the name you want your new Category to have. Make it straightforward.
- Enter the Category Slug. The “slug” is the URL-friendly version of the name. Use hyphens to separate the words when there’s more than one. Again, make it straightforward. If your Category is called “Vegan Recipes”, the slug should be “vegan-recipes”, and the URL will be “yourwebsite.com/category/vegan-recipes”.
- Select a Parent Category if your new Category is gonna be a Sub-Category only. If not, select None.
- Add a little Description to inform your audience — but mostly Google — about your Category content. The fastest way is writing something like “Here in the [Insert category name here] Category you will find information/recipes/tips/etc about [this, that, and also this].” Try to mention, naturally, all the most common topics you will write about under that Category. If possible, try to write at least 300 words on your Category Description. If not, remember that quality always comes over quantity.
- Hit the button Add New Category. It’s done.
Note that Tags also help your readers to find more related content on your website, but your Main Topics should be set as Categories, and Tags ideally should be used to group small, related topics.
I.e. Be Productive Every Day has a lot of articles about blogging, mostly blogging with a WordPress site. Sometimes, however, I mention services such as Squarespace or GoDaddy. “Blogging” is the main topic and also a Category. “Squarespace” and “GoDaddy” are small, related sub-topics I mention occasionally, which are also Tags. I hope I have made it clear. 🙂
#6 Organize Your Menus To Optimize Your Website Structure
The most commonly used places to display your Menus are at the top of the site and in the footer.
Reserve your Top Menu for your most important pages (about page, resources pages and perhaps shop page) and categories.
Related: Legal Guide For Bloggers: Make Sure Your Blog Is Legal
How to create a New Menu on WordPress:
- Log in to your WordPress Dashboard as an Administrator.
- Select Edit Menus.
- In the menu on the left, go to Appearance > Menus.
- Under Menu structure, create a Menu Name for your new menu (this is just to keep you organized with your menus).
- Then choose which items you want in your menu: pages, categories, cornerstone content, etc.
- Under Menu Settings, choose a Display location (display location availability depends on your current Theme).
- Save Changes.
You can also click the “Manage with Live Preview” button at the top of the page to manage your menus directly in the areas available by your current WordPress Theme.
#7 Submit Your Website XML Sitemap To Google Search Console
Google Search Console is an amazing free tool that scans your website for errors that affect its performance, such as 404 errors and load speed issues. The tool also sends you emails pointing out where the errors are, so you can fix them to give a boost to your website performance.
Search Console tools and reports help you measure your site’s Search traffic and performance, fix issues, and make your site shine in Google Search results.
With Google Search Console you can also submit to Google an XML sitemap of your website.
An XML sitemap is a file containing your website’s most important content that helps Google to crawl your site’s vital pages, which can significantly shorten the time for Google to start showing your content in searches.
Sitemaps are extremely important for SEO as they help search engines to better understand your website structure, which can significantly boost your website traffic.
How to easily verify your Google Search Console account via All In One SEO:
You need to have a Google mail account (Gmail) to use Google Search Console. If you’ve already created your Google Analytics account, you can use the same account!
You’ll also need to install and activate the All in One SEO plugin. If you don’t have the Premium version, the free one will be enough for the following process, although it has limited features.
- Sign in to Google Search Console.
- Inside the welcome page, choose the right box title URL prefix.
- Type your precise website URL, meaning it includes if it’s https:// or http:// and www or not. (I.e. Be Productive Every Day is https://beproductiveeveryday.com)
- Within the page titled Verify ownership, under Other verification methods, select HTML Tag.
- Click the arrow to the right of Add a meta tag to your site’s home page, and copy the HTML tag. Don’t close the window.
- Open another window and log into your WordPress site as an Administrator. Select All in One SEO > General Settings.
- Under Webmaster Tools, choose Google Search Console and paste the copied HTML tag into the field in front of the Google Verification Code.
- Go back to the window in which your Search Console Page is open and click the Verify button.
- It’s done! Congratulations!
How to generate and submit an XML Sitemap to Google Search Console:
- Log into your WordPress site as an Administrator. Select All in One SEO > Sitemaps.
- Under Enable Sitemap turn the button on (if it’s not automatically on).
- Click the Open Sitemap button to view your XML Sitemap. Copy the XML Sitemap slug (the URL part that comes after the slash).
- Open your Google Search Console account and select your website in the top-left menu (it probably will be selected by default if you have only one property).
- Again in the left menu, under Index, select Sitemaps.
- Paste the XML Sitemap slug in the “Add a new sitemap”.
- Click Submit.
Which Tools Help To Optimize A Website?
Here are 3 tools to help you optimize your website:
All In One SEO / AIOSEO
With the best SEO WordPress plugin, easily check your content’s SEO score, redirect URLs, and submit sitemaps so search engines can crawl your site faster.
Choose long-tail keywords with high search and low competition difficulty. Use this tool to decide which topics are best for you to cover on your website or blog.
With this WordPress Theme, you won’t need to enter a single line of code to create intuitive and attractive navigation for your website or blog. Ashe PRO features a visual editing panel, allowing you to structure your menus, pages and blog posts while seeing exactly how they will look.
In addition, for those who also operate in the eCommerce business, Ashe PRO has Woocommerce integration.
Website Structure FAQ
What Is Site Architecture In SEO?
An SEO-friendly website architecture features well-organized topics into categories, improved permalinks and breadcrumbs, and defined content priority. In addition, site navigation must be intuitive, allowing easy access to all its content through readable menus and search bars.
The structure of your website matters for SEO because it helps search engines understand your website or blog.
How Do I Make My Website Google-Friendly?
If you want a Google-friendly website:
- Have fast web hosting
- Choose a responsive theme that adapts to all devices
- Do not use images heavier than 75kb
- Get SSL certified
- Do not upload videos directly to your website
- Write quality SEO-friendly content that entertains and helps your audience
- Submit your website’s XML sitemap to Google Search Console
- Define the structure of your website
- Have intuitive and organized navigation
Which Domain Is Good For SEO?
The best SEO domains are:
- .com domains
- Easily memorable domains
- Domains older than 8 months
- Domains that avoid numbers, many double letters, and hyphens
- Excessively long domains
Optimize Website Structure For SEO — Final Thoughts
Google is a machine. If you want this powerful machine to understand your website, then you need to communicate in “machine language”.
When you optimize the structure of your website, you start showing the content of your website to Google in a language that Google understands.
Improving website structure for SEO isn’t something particularly hard to do. You just need organization, planning and awareness of the niche you’re in.
Once you have your structure defined, you just need to keep the organization going forward.
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