Properly optimizing your content is good-enough SEO. But that’s only part of the battle. The other part is properly organizing information within your site to optimize it effectively for search.
Some sites are so badly organized that some of their high-value keyword pages are buried deep within the site. It takes multiple clicks for visitors to find them.
When designing your site structure, you must consider SEO from the get-go if you want to earn favorable rankings immediately. When search spiders crawl a site, they want to “see” right away what it’s all about . . . and there’s no better place to let the crawlers know about your site’s main topic than on the main page.
In this post, we’ll talk about how to make your site more relevant to your visitors by building a proper site architecture with effective SEO in mind.
Think about how to help visitors understand you easily
Proper architecture begins by focusing on how to guide your visitors to a swift understanding of your site. By using language they can easily relate to, you make it easy to find the place and direct visitors around it.
This can be achieved by doing proper keyword research.
As always, we highly recommend using Google’s AdWords Keywords Tool for ease of use and accuracy. When performing keyword research, you first need to determine which sites in your industry are currently making it to Google’s first page. Evaluate them to determine the common keyphrases they use in content, meta tags, and titles. Also try to see which keywords are being used by your competition’s visitors when when they post comments and questions.
After determining all the best keywords based on what your competitors and their customers are using, put all of them in a set-up list or spreadsheet for easy reference. Use these keywords when you run research using Google’s keyword research tool.
Try to find or devise similar terms that might not have occurred to your competitors. Ideally, you want you choose keywords and phrases that have a attracted a respectable number of searches but comparatively low competition.
For more information on how to use the Google AdWords Keywords Tool, click here.
You can also look elsewhere for keywords that will help you dominate. Some of the places you can look include Google Analytics (if set up for your site), where you will see the keywords that visitors used to find you.
You can also check out social media for mentions regarding ideas or products connected with your industry. Always strive to use language as your visitors tend to use it within the structure of your site.
Create site units based on language visitors use
Your site should be organized into smaller units or pages based on concepts or ideas that visitors search for, and use their specific language. If you’re running a home improvement site, for example, group services properly. There should be a page for “Roofing,” one for “Bathroom,” and “Kitchen,” etc.
You can break down each page further into topics and link to them based on keywords your visitors use. For “Roofing,” you might create sub-pages on “how to find a roofing company” and “basic roofing maintenance.” Each of the subpages should have titles and keywords that use those all-important visitor terms.
Create navigation based on visitor interest
Let’s say your site is about cars. If you run keyword research on this topic, your research tool might turn up results based on demographics such as locations and car makes or models.
Most likely, the results don’t include searches based on price. That’s because price doesn’t hold much interest for many searchers. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t include price in your site’s navigation, but it’s best if you only display it as an added feature within each car’s individual category.
As a best practice instead, you can organize pages based on location and car make or model, because these align more closely with most people’s searches. This makes your site more relevant to your visitors — a factor that is crucial for determining its rank in searches.
Include site navigation wherever possible
It’s a common practice to include site navigation on websites. In fact, it’s becoming more of a necessity to help visitors find their way. Normally, you would see site navigation labels such as “About,” “Home,” “Contact Us,” and “Services.”
While this is quite common and a good-enough strategy to help your visitors get from one place to another, including navigational links within each of your site’s content pages is a powerful tactic that tends to be overlooked by many SEOs and webmasters.
Your visitors should be able to find related links within your content to minimize their need to click back to where they came from, just to find the information they’re looking for.
What this tactic does is provide your content with opportunities to rank better in search for passing link juice. Apart from enabling your visitors to find their way around your site easily, links within the content encourage better click-through rates. They also minimize bounce rate.
Creating site architecture that complies with Panda and Penguin
When Panda and Penguin were released, the Internet changed almost overnight in terms of providing users with information. While the release of both updates may have caused some disturbances across the web, the benefits far outweighed the adverse effects.
The biggest benefit from both updates was the way SEOs and webmasters turned their focus toward enhancing user experience. With great user experience, your site will most likely get improved ranking in search.
One of the ways to improve user experience is to include relevant links within your posts. This practice allows visitors to go to relevant posts elsewhere on your site, which effectively reduces bounce rate. Google and the other search engines may be taking this factor into consideration for ranking.
Relevance is key. That’s why, if you run across elements or content anywhere on your site that are not relevant, take the trouble to remove them, or modify them to make them more relevant.
For more on SEO best practices post-Google Panda and Penguin, check out this post.
Content is king, but site architecture might perhaps be characterized as the queen that holds everything in place for a more streamlined SEO and online marketing strategy.
If you’d like more information on how to improve your site’s performance, contact us for a free assessment.