One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make when building their website is that they overlook the structure of their site. They focus on aesthetics and other design elements but spend little time perfecting the thing that can impact their site’s SEO performance the most.

Just think about it: when you take away all the design elements, all that remains is your website’s structure. If the structure doesn’t follow a logical route and users get lost trying to find the information they’re looking for, they will bounce. A poor user experience translates into poor ranking. Google looks at factors such as bounce rate and dwell time to determine where to list your site in the search engine results.

Moreover, a good structure also helps Google to crawl your website better and index the content.

So, now that we’ve established the impact your site structure has on your SEO performance, the question remains: how do you create a good one?

1. Build a Strong Foundation

Your site, just like any other physical construction, requires an “architectural” plan. You need to establish the hierarchy upon which you will build your site.

Use an Excel spreadsheet or a diagramming program like Visio to draw out your site’s structure. Organize all the pages and sections in the form of an upside-down tree. You should have one main root (the top header), a few trunks represented by the main categories, and, finally, several more branches, which are the subcategories within each category.

2. Make the Foundation Logical

You might want to surprise and impress visitors with something original, such as intricate design and navigation. But, when it comes to structure, the best approach is to keep it simple and logical. Each category should address one distinct section of your site, and each subcategory should be relevant to the main section it belongs.

Another key concept you should remember is to keep the number of main categories low (no more than seven.) Also, people like symmetry, so if you manage to create your “tree branches” equal in size, your site will gain even more appeal. If one main section has three subcategories, it will be an odd user experience if the next one has ten.  

3. Keep the Coding Simple

Nowadays, there are many different types of coding languages, one more sophisticated than the other. But, if you want to deliver the best experience to your users and make Google fall in love with you, then simplicity is your key to success. HTML and CSS are your most reliable coding instruments, so use them wisely.

4. Create a Flat Structure

From a usability point of view, navigation should be very simple. If you know where the important information lies — the landing pages where you download or order a product — then you must make it visible and not bury it deep within your site. Keep in mind that any page should require no more than three clicks to be accessed.

A good site structure allows users to find the information they want quickly. And, if your visitors are happy, then Google is happy too. It’s that simple.

If you need help designing a website that will please both people and the search engines, get in touch with Sprout Media Lab or call us at (800) 617-6975 to see what we can do for you.