Achieving great website visibility requires a holistic approach. The structure of a site is vital not only in website development, but in Search Engine Optimization as a whole. If your basic architecture is in any way flawed, no amount of excellent content or inbound links will help you achieve the rankings you desire – the key here is to keep things simple and relevant.
Your site should have a straightforward and logical structure. This not only allows for user-friendly navigation, but it will also facilitate search engine discovery of your pages. Search engines send programs known as ‘robots, ‘spiders’ or ‘crawlers’ to investigate the internet and find out what’s on sites. They also use algorithms to process the data returned to them by crawlers to determine the popularity and relevance of sites to be listed on their results pages. Site structure is significant because it will always affect the ways in which crawlers perceive its content. Additionally, if there are three or more links to every page from others on the site, it can be said the site is well-structured for SEO. If the structure inhibits the number of internal links, then it’s safe to assume that the site has poor structure. Crawlers need to be able to read as many pages as possible, and these links are the paths they take to do so. Your site needs to be structured in such a way that it allows for simple and readily available navigation to and from a site map to function well in terms of crawlers. A site map will also help in conveying the structure of your site and the hierarchy of your pages.
Optimization can basically be enhanced in four ways – search engine results page, on-site optimization, off-site optimization and on-page optimization. One vital component to on-site optimization is URL optimization. It’s important for website structure to include good URLs because search engines take this factor into account. In this context, that means URLs should be short, meaningful and not stuffed with keywords. Using search-engine friendly URLs allows users and crawlers to find the pages they want with ease.
The structure of a site also affects its capacity for growth. Having to add new sections to a site at a moment’s notice is common and important to take into consideration. To be able to do this without too much effort will prove to be extremely beneficial in the long run. If you find yourself having to rewrite the entire navigation system for your site, the structure is not optimal for SEO. The general rule of thumb is that you should be able to increase the size of your site by 30% without needing to significantly alter your navigation system. Given the existing climate of change and the rise of social media, it’s easy to imagine having to add content for new users. Your site’s structure must allow for change in a world where it’s the only constant.
Be sure to keep your pages “light” – If your pages are weighed down with huge graphic files, flash animation and other multimedia, they are going to take much longer to load. Use graphics sparingly and go for speed in addition to a professional looking design. Keep in mind that not all visitors will have the same connection speed. Many businesses, including Google, have found that page loading speed differences have had a significant impact on revenue.
Inclusion of specific keywords and keyword phrases is one of the most important aspects of SEO. Be sure to include your main keywords or keyword phrases on every page. You can then optimize your site one page at a time for more specific keywords. Be sure to include these keywords in Meta tags, image Alt tags, the links on your pages, names of your pages and in headings. A word of caution here would be to keep keyword density between one and three percent to avoid appearing too ‘spammy’ to search engines. Also, be sure to include the keyword phrases in your content so search engines will know that your site is relevant to your keywords.
Keyword specificity is equally important. The more specific your keywords are, the better chance you have at building value with search engines. For example, “dogs” is very generic and it will take a lot more effort to stand out than if you were to use a more specific term such as “dog training videos” or “dog training obedience schools”. Be sure that you are optimizing just one key phrase per page as opposed to optimizing each page for multiple phrases. The Google Keyword Tool is an excellent program to use in selecting the most specific and relevant keywords and phrases for your site.
In the aim to maximize your organic rankings, internal structure is paramount. Consider your site structure to be equivalent to the foundation of a house. If the foundation is not adequately constructed, the house may be inhabitable, but will have long term setbacks. With websites your long term issues could ultimately result in the failure to maximize your ROI of your website, so be sure to design and implement a safe and smart structure as your initial step in your Search Engine Optimization efforts.