If you want to increase traffic and conversions on a site, site architecture is one of the most effective SEO levers. But for some reason it is rarely used to its fullest.
We translated Longrid about 15 life hacks on the site structure for effective SEO optimization. The authors of LongRid applied 2-3 life hacks to the structure of one well-known site. As a result, traffic and conversions grew by 175% in a few months. For sites that have recently started, this can be a real breakthrough.
We’ll tell you about 15 life hacks, how to make and arrange the site structure.
From the article you will learn:
What is a site structure
The structure of the site is how the pages of the site are organized among themselves. The structure of the website is built through navigation and links, but also affects other elements – breadcrumbs, category pages, site maps. A good site layout helps users and search engines find what they are looking for.
The structure of the website also helps determine the relevance and importance of the content. It can direct users and bots to the most important pages of the site and show what your content is about.
The purpose of the structure is to make the site as simple and clear as possible for users and search engines.
Proper development of the site structure provides many SEO benefits:
Pages are better indexed.
The site has a growing ranking and traffic,
Users interact better with the site.
1. Golden rule: give users what they want
When you think about how to link and organize a site, ask yourself three questions:
What are people looking for?
What is important?
How do pages relate to each other?
A good site structure quickly and easily gives visitors what they want and what they need. Take a look at an example REI site that answers the questions above perfectly: An example of a good REI site architecture
On this page:
Links and anchor text help people quickly navigate the site.
Content is organized around topics and their types.
Other important pages are shown out of navigation.
The site is consistent with the intentions of users. And since the relationship between the pages is clearly built, search engines better understand and rank each page.
Using analytics and search data, you can easily find which pages people are on the site:
And which ones they interact with the most.
The pages that are involved in these performance metrics need to be made the most visible. Pages that are almost not involved in these metrics can be made less visible.
The fastest way to improved site architecture for SEO is navigation, which provides solutions for users.
2. Make the structure flatter, but not too
A flat site structure is when important pages are close to the main page. This means that the homepage is just a few clicks from important pages.
Many SEO professionals talk about the three-click rule. This means that any important page is a maximum of three clicks from the home page, or a page with high authority.
The illustration below shows how this works. Imagine that your home page links to 100 pages, and each of these 100 pages links to another 100 pages, and so on. This means that a visitor coming to your homepage can visit any of a million pages within 3 clicks.
Illustration of a site architecture using a three-click rule
Note: This is a guideline rather than a rule. There are many situations in which the three-click rule is not suitable. Despite this, it is always better to place important pages close to reputable.
You may ask: why not use a completely flat architecture and link everything from the main page. This is not worth doing. The completely flat architecture does not allow you to structure the site and set it a context hierarchy inside the content – and this is necessary for search engines.
How to determine the depth of clicks
Unless your site consists of several pages, manually determining the depth of clicks is not an easy task.
Fortunately, most SEO audit programs have a click-depth feature – for example, in Screaming Frog, Ryte, Moz, SEMrush, and others. Many begin to calculate the depth, starting from the main page. Because of this, it is often difficult to see the overall architecture.
To really understand the structure of the site, it is worth seeing it with your own eyes. To do this, use visualization tools, for example, WebSite Auditor and Sitebulb. They display the link structure well.
3. Use nodal pages
A nodal page is an important overview page that focuses on a broad topic or category. She, in turn, refers to child categories and more specific topics.
Nodal pages have several goals:
Give a quick overview of the topic,
Answer top user questions,
Refer to important subtopics and top products,
Provide a more user-friendly experience than regular category pages,
Help you become an authority on the topic.
Look at the nodal pages of sites Consumer reports and Moz:
What the structure of a good nodal page looks like
Category pages often become natural nodal pages, as they usually have great link authority. In addition, to give a list of subcategories, posts and products, their goal is to add additional information to the category pages. It is worth linking to any important pages that will help the visitor.
To learn more, check out the great guides for creating nodal pages:
4. Create content built on the SILO structure
Nodal pages perfectly combine closely related topics. But it’s even more efficient to combine node pages with content built on the SILO structure.
Content built on the SILO structure is a hierarchical organization of content by topic.
Content is grouped by topic and hierarchically linked.
Take a look at the example above. Each step in the hierarchy is associated with a step above and below the categories. This helps users follow links, and search engines better understand the content.
Content built on a SILO structure is usually closely grouped by:
Navigation, including breadcrumbs,
We will discuss each of them in turn, but the most important thing in the content of such a structure is to group it by topic and organize it from beginning to end – from extensive reviews to very specific topics.
More about SILO-based content
5. Link pages related by meaning
So, you have created a site architecture that uses node pages and content storage.
To make pages even more effective, link closely related pages.
Content on the SILO structure does not need to be relinked along and across. Closely related pages can also link to each other. This tactic is one of the important steps that leads to increased traffic.
SEO professionals often link closely related pages to the same parent in the content repository. This is most effective when products / posts / categories are closely related to each other.
Take a look at the example below – on it, thematically related child pages / category pages link to each other.
This is not the only way to relink. SEO professionals often debate about the best internal linking strategy, but rarely come to the same opinion.
Best advice: if the page is closely related to another topic, and the visitor will be interested in following it, adding a link will be beneficial.
If the topics are very different from each other, do not link these pages to each other.
More materials on alternative linking strategies:
6. Link from authority pages to landing pages
Now it’s time to add links to your landing pages. A landing page is any page on a site that is important to visit, for example: The sale page that you want to promote on the home page,
High conversion page,
Any medium-sized page that is not referenced much.
A page with high authority is any page with a large number of equal links that rank well and receive a lot of traffic.
The goal is to convey the authority of links and direct visitors from high-profile pages to important landing pages that are not referenced. Sometimes these are links from the navigation bar, or links that are not involved in navigation. They allow you to quickly switch from a high-profile page to a landing page.
To determine which pages to add links to and from which links, use these methods:
Google Search Console Internal Link Report shows the approximate number of internal links to your top 1000 links. If your site consists of more than 1000 links, create separate Search Console properties at the directory level for more data and details.
Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush tools can display authoritative metrics for each link. Best of all, in our opinion, copes with the task Moz’s Link Explorer. You can use this tool to find high-profile and pages that have not received links.
Google analytics or any other software will show which pages receive the most traffic, which pages convert well, and which do not hurt the increase in traffic.
For advanced SEO optimization you can calculate internal pagerankto find pages with large and small internal weights.
7. Use pagination and endless scrolling
For category pages with hundreds or thousands of product cards, there are three ways that instantly help make the architecture more flat: Pagination, or pagination,
The function “view all pages”,
The easiest and most popular way is to break long listings of categories using pagination, or pagination.
When pagination is applied correctlyIt helps make the architecture more flat. Pagination signals Google that all site entries are from the same source.
Most SEO professionals prefer pagination because it is easy to use for both robots and people.
On the other hand, the function “view all pages” can also make the architecture more flat – all records are referenced from one page.
Some SEO professionals like the “see all pages” feature. They think that Google can go through all the records more carefully because they are linked from one page. This will work if you do not have too many products or posts. But if you have hundreds or thousands of records, they will take a long time to load, and this badly affects the user experience.
The hybrid approach is an endless scroll. It constantly automatically loads new entries in the user’s browser. The scroll also has markup with page numbers, which is easily understood by robots. Google has some good documentation about what is the best way to implement endless scroll to the site.
How to optimize pagination
When you use pagination, it’s easy not to notice the little things that will improve the user experience and SEO optimization: Use proper markup, including links rel = ”next” and rel = ”prev” or headers.
Do not neglect the links to the pages at the bottom of the page. This can also increase your search engine ranking.
Remember that page numbers are links. This means that they can influence user experience and data collection by Googlebot. They can also transmit real-link metrics such as PageRank.
Pagination links can be arranged not only linearly – for example, 1,2,3,4, but also by groups: 1 … 20 … 24 – 25 – 26 … 40. Some SEO experts have outlined the most optimal link strategies in pagination in an excellent guide from Audisto.
8. Use smart multi-faceted navigation
Multi-faceted, or faceted navigation is a navigation that allows users to sort, filter and narrow down the number of results by a variety of options and criteria.
Zappos example site
Multidimensional navigation is very convenient for users. But for search engines, it can create millions of combinations of links with frequently duplicate content. From the point of view of indexing and data collection by search engines, this can be a big drawback.
For multi-aspect navigation to be successful, you need to encourage search engines to go through your unique pages that bring traffic and index them. And at the same time, do not give them index links with low value.
Once you have set which links you want to index, use tools to control multi-aspect navigation, for example: Meta robots
Rel = Canonical
Search Console Parameter Tool
For more details on multi-aspect navigation, see the detailed guides:
9. Use HTML sitemaps
An HTML site map is posted on the site. It gives people and robots clues about the structure of the site, topics and the relationships between them.
Take a look to the masterly HTML map of the New York Times. It not only refers to almost every important page of the site, but is also organized by date, format of content and topics.
HTML site maps often work most effectively on large sites where the structure is not immediately obvious, or the page routes are not very optimized.
10. Link to new content more actively
It often happens that you publish a new post or content, and it does not give any results – there is no increase in traffic and ranking in search engines.
The problem is that Google is not receiving signals on how to rate your content.
A simple solution is to link to new content more actively and post it on important pages of the site, including the home page.
11. Link from new articles to old
Every time you publish new content, try to link from it to several old articles – whenever it is appropriate for the user.
Such links have a good effect on the site’s SEO architecture:
This automatically builds and strengthens the content store.
A hierarchical relationship is built between the new and old pages.
Old pages gain authority.
12. Use nautical bread crumbs
Breadcrumbs play an important role in the architecture of the site:
Determine the relative position of the link in the hierarchy,
Link pages up and down inside the hierarchy,
Help visitors navigate pages.
In addition, Google displays breadcrumbs in the search results as extended snippets, and this increases the number of clicks to the site.
13. Do not use too many links
Each page has a certain amount of link authority, which is distributed over its outgoing links. The more links on a page, the less credibility each individual link has.
The idea is to transfer authority to the most important pages and not waste it on unimportant pages.
Instead of linking to any possible page on the site, it’s much more important to link to thematically relevant pages that will immediately help the user.
To do this, use analytics or heatmap data to see where people click and reduce the number of links that they don’t click on. These data can be viewed in Yandex Webview or Hotjar, for example.
Other possible unnecessary links are universal footer links, tag clouds and any others that are automatically generated by your theme or CMS.
14. Use hierarchical link structures
When you organize content, it’s often best to use links that reflect its structure.
For example, if you sell phones in a store, your link would look better like this:
https://example.com/shop/phones – the link contains an indication of the phones and the store.
Advantages of the hierarchical method:
Users immediately understand what is on the link;
Keywords in the link improve the ranking and the number of clicks to the site;
Google uses directory metrics to measure the importance and relevance of new links.
Some webmasters fake a flat structure by limiting the number of folders or placing all links in the root folder. Although this method has advantages, it’s much more important for Google how many clicks from the main your content is, and not how many slashes in the links.
15. Use the correct anchor text
Anchor text is the text that is located on the link. It is part of the site architecture.
When you link to a page as part of a site’s navigation, anchor text becomes very important as this navigation is used throughout the site. This is anchor text that Google uses to determine the relevance of content. According to it, users decide to go to the site.