How to create a site structure



How logical and easy is it for visitors to your web resource to find the information they need? It depends on the structure of the specific site. It is considered one of the important ranking factors – the quality of its development affects the speed and accuracy of page indexing by search engine crawlers. Consequently, it must simultaneously satisfy the requirements and consumers, and search engines.

The structure of the site – is its logical scheme, according to which are built all the sections, categories and subcategories. It connects all the pages of a Web resource for meaning and displays them in the navigation according to a specific hierarchy.

Fig. 1 – An example of the structure of the online store with categories and subcategories

Fig. 1 – An example of the structure of the online store with categories and subcategories

The main objective of the site structure – to create a user-friendly navigation system and improve usability. It is with her help user understands in what section is at the moment, how to go to the next or how to return to the previous one.

1. Types and kinds of site structure

It should be said that under different types of pages are different in structure, there are three variants:

  1. Linear: there is a logical chain in which the pages of a web resource flow one into another.
    For example, Home page of a beauty salon → “SPA and massage” → Type of massage → Make an appointment for the service.
Fig. 2 – Example of linear site structure: beauty salon

Fig. 2 – Example of linear site structure: beauty salon

2. Hierarchical, or tree-like.

The first, “root” level – categories and sections of the site, the second, “branched” – subcategories, subsections, product pages, etc. Implies the presence of three or more levels of nesting, so it is suitable for large sites that contain large and diverse amounts of information.

For example, for the site of sporting goods the path could be directory → Rollers, skateboards, scooters → Rollers → Female. If there are too many transitions or the path is logically incomprehensible, then the structure needs to be reworked.

Fig. 3 – Example of a tree-like site structure: online sporting goods store

Fig. 3 – Example of a tree-like site structure: online sporting goods store

3. Block: users can go from one page to another without losing the logical relationship. Meets rarely enough and is suitable for small sites where all information is crossed.

Fig. 4 – Example of the block structure of the site: a children's art center

Fig. 4 – Example of the block structure of the site: a children’s art center

In addition, you can take into account the kinds of organization of the structure of the information sites:

  • alphabetical organization (the inconvenience is that the consumer must know exactly what he is looking for in order to find the title alphabetically);
Fig. 5 – Example of alphabetical organization

Fig. 5 – Example of alphabetical organization

  • organization by target audience: the most obvious example is the job search sites, where the information is clearly divided into requests for job seekers and for employers;
Fig. 6 – Example of organization by target audience

Fig. 6 – Example of organization by target audience

  • Thematic (thematic gradation of information);
Fig. 7 – Example of Thematic Organization

Fig. 7 – Example of Thematic Organization

  • the geographic organization (actual for the resources, devoted to a certain location: beauty shops, cafes and restaurants, service centers);
Fig. 8 – Example of geographical organization

Fig. 8 – Example of geographical organization

  • chronological (appropriate if the request site visitor is associated with a specific date, relevant for news Web resources).
Fig. 9 – Example of chronological organization

Fig. 9 – Example of chronological organization

2. How to evaluate the structure of the web resource. Quality requirements

The navigation system of the site displays its structure:

  • directly in the menu;
  • in the “breadcrumbs” – the navigation chain, which shows the path from the home page to the user’s current page;
  • users see it in the HTML-map, and robots – in XML-map site.

In order for the site to be at the top of results, there are general requirements for the structure of the site, which must be adhered to, and there are recommended by Google.

What are the requirements for quality structure of the site:

  • the use of HTML and CSS for navigation;
  • the level of nesting pages does not exceed four – the so-called rule of three clicks;
Fig. 10 – Example of the rule of three clicks on our site

Fig. 10 – Example of the rule of three clicks on our site

  • use of categories in order to link content by meaning;
  • from any page of the site can go to the home page;
  • the presence of the site map;
  • preserving the structure when removing or adding subcategories – for example, if in the previous screenshot we add a whole subcategory (say, SMM) or remove one of the existing ones, the original hierarchy Materials → Articles → Subject Subcategories will be preserved.

What is required of a good site structure Google:

  • it must be clear and simple, easy to use;
  • to determine the relevance of the page needs human-understandable URLs – web addresses of understandable words;
  • these URLs can be shortened if the “tail” is too long: Google approves the length of up to 75 characters;
  • page links need hyphens between words, not underscores.

Use the criteria above to analyze your site. Make changes as recommended, and check the results. Here’s a checklist to see if you’ve done everything right.

So, with the right site structure:

  1. Navigation is clear to users. The site is useful because the articles are relevant to the queries. Positions in the rankings rise and search traffic comes; the quality of interaction between the user and the site improves. Behavioral experience is improved after adjustments – for example, visitor pageview time is increasing.
  2. Pages and keyword queries on them are distributed correctly and cover user queries, and therefore have a positive effect on conversion.
  3. Additional categories and sections of the web resource are created for narrow groups of queries. Thus, it is possible to attract more traffic, ranking for a greater number of keys.
  4. The content of the site is placed logically, search engines see it – the pages are scanned quickly, the route for the robots is simplified.

3. Algorithm of creating the correct structure of the site

For SEO-adapted site structure is important not to miss a single step of the algorithm. So, how to create a good structure for the site step by step:

  1. Analyze your competitors

Let’s form a list of niche leaders for analysis, by search queries and contextual advertising.

Fig. 11 – Example of searching for competitors in your niche

Fig. 11 – Example of searching for competitors in your niche

Next:

  • export maps of competitors’ sites, where they exist;
  • analyze the key phrases for which they are at the top;
  • enter them into the table. (look in search engines for several thematic queries).

A detailed analysis of keywords is needed to ensure that the content on the site is logically organized and meets the key queries of users.

2. Collect a semantic core and cluster queries

Already having some information after analyzing competitors, it is worth performing an additional search for key phrases or words. This can be done with the help of services:

Fig. 12 – Google Ads interface for keyword searching

Fig. 12 – Google Ads interface for keyword searching

Next, you need to cluster queries – clustering of keys in groups. Automatic clustering services, such as Megaindex or Coolakov , are useful to facilitate this procedure.

Fig. 13 – The Megaindex interface

Fig. 13 – The Megaindex interface

Fig. 14 – The Coolakov interface

Fig. 14 – The Coolakov interface

3. Create final hierarchy:

  • assign categories to the pages named according to the main keywords;
  • visualize the hierarchy in the form of a scheme – it will look more clear and understandable;
  • structure all available headings into user-friendly headings.

When you create a root directory should start with the most general categories and gradually move on to a more accurate subsidiary. It is desirable that the name of the rubric reflects a popular user query.

The first categories, parent categories, should be as general as possible in terms of the list of queries they can cover.

4. Check the structure of the URL

Clarify the length and presence of keyword queries in each link, looking at its human comprehension. If necessary, you can unify the coding or language indicator, if the site is multilingual.

5. Check the transition from page to page on the site

The transition of users between pages within one resource is a key usability factor. The cornerstone content that is most relevant for promotion should be re-linked according to its priority, and each important page should include a link to another important page. Internal linking uses both navigational and contextual links.
You can anchor blocks such as “Read also”, “You might be interested”, “With this product buy,” etc. on the site.

6. Check the display menu, footer and header

The menu can be primary and secondary, horizontal and vertical. It also needs to be displayed equally in both desktop and mobile versions. The footer is a block at the bottom of the pages that contains Contacts, Privacy Policy, etc., while the so-called “header” is placed at the top and is designed to facilitate navigation. These elements are basic to the site. Their convenience and brevity should not cause any doubts.

7. Create a sitemap

Strictly speaking, the site map is not required. But it helps search engines to index the resource faster and looks like a Sitemap file. For robots, the structure of the site will describe the xml-map, for example, created using the tool “Site Analysis”. For users, you can create a clickable list of pages – HTML-map.

8. Test site

The first results that the site will show, already demonstrate that you have not tried in vain. Ease of navigation, speed of loading, convenience of navigation – these factors are important to check from the point of view of the user, who performs actions according to the intent. Google Search Console can help you with this, as it helps to analyze the quality of pages.

9. Check the link site

A block in search engine results which shows a domain and a few of its subdomains deserves special attention. Search engines create these blocks themselves, but this does not mean that their content cannot be influenced. So, it is necessary to highlight subsections in the menu, and the title meta tag should coincide with the title of the pages.

4. Worth preventing: typical mistakes

There are several common mistakes that are worth foreseeing in advance and, accordingly, avoiding.

  1. Weak classification. Menus that do not reflect the hierarchy of categories, their inaccurate name. Any visitor to the site should understand where he is and how to get somewhere. Navigation should be before his eyes at all times. Remember the rule of three clicks and do not make the breakdown too detailed: if the characteristics of the goods or services a lot, it will help to use tags and filters.

2. No common categories – goods can be repeated in related headings, if their intended use affects both of these headings. After all, it is unknown in which of them the product/service will seek users. But the URL position should only be located at one address, so that search engines do not create duplicates.
For example, in an online cosmetics store, a particular BB-cream should be placed in both skincare and decorative cosmetics.

3. Insufficiently elaborate filters – quick access to the right category is invaluable. The ability to sort entries or products by attributes (e.g., date, cost, color, size, or brand) greatly improves usability for users.

Fig. 15 – Example of a good breakdown of products by filter

Fig. 15 – Example of a good breakdown of products by filter

So, a properly designed site structure is essential to its development in all aspects. Let’s summarize – that’s what its importance for SEO is:

  • rankability depends on how convenient it is for users to use the site: any page requested by them should be no more than three clicks away;
  • technical optimization is meaningless with poor structure, especially its quality is important for crawl pages;
  • it simplifies the procedure of indexing for search robots;
  • gives a competent distribution of content according to the user’s intentions.

Correct site structure, in which possible errors are analyzed and eliminated – this is largely a guarantee of its effectiveness and success.

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