Site structure: 5 steps to a better ranking

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Create a clear path for crawlers
By Annabel Hodges, contributor. 3 April, 2018
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Creating great content is a key asset for any financial brand. Valuable content is informative, engaging and customer-centric but above all it is discoverable. Site structure plays a crucial role in both User Experience and Google’s ranking algorithm, so getting it right will ensure that content you’ve worked hard to create gets the engagement it deserves.

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Why site structure is so important

Good site structure provides a clear signal to users and search engines alike. It should allow a user to quickly and easily navigate to the information they are looking for while enabling a search engine to not only understand the individual page being crawled; but also how that page sits within the wider site hierarchy. The better and clearer your site structure, the easier and faster Google will crawl your site. This means better rankings, visibility and potential traffic.

The better and clearer your site structure, the easier and faster Google will crawl your site.

How to ensure your site structure is optimised?

1. Review your current site structure

For most sites, the optimum structure is that of a pyramid; the homepage sits at the top and breaks out into the site’s main categories.These then break out further into sub-categories and then into individual articles. You can use tools such as Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl to pull an overview of your current site structure or ask your developers to help you do this. It should look similar to this (image from Moz):

Site structure

2. Avoid overloading any one category or sub-category

Monitor the number of posts/pages that are placed into each category; try to avoid overloading any one particular area. If one category becomes particularly bloated, consider dividing it into two to maintain a greater equilibrium across the site. As suggested by Yoast, a good rule of thumb is to try to ensure that no one category is greater than twice as large as another. Try to ensure you are also balancing your total number of sub-categories, for example, don’t create one category with ten sub-categories and another with only two. A shallow and broad structure is better than a deep and narrow structure, so aim for the majority of pages to be accessible within 3 to 4 clicks of the homepage.

3. Consider your taxonomy

Now you have your sitemap sketched out, be aware of what taxonomy you will use alongside that structure. If you consider your site from the top down, do the sub-categories all work within the categories they are assigned to? What naming conventions are you using? Have you done your keyword research? Do the terms that you have chosen have decent keyword volume? Use keywordtool.io to ensure your categories and URLs are optimally named.

4. Improve your internal linking

Internal links are the glue that holds a site together. They act as signposting for users to help them navigate the site, while also ensuring search engines understand how the site’s pages relate to one another; providing a guide to the site’s hierarchy. From an SEO-specific perspective, they also share link authority highlighting which pages are of key value. Ensure that you are linking not only within a specific category but also across-category. Key evergreen pages should have the most internal links pointing to them; with other links creating a spider web across the site.

5. (Re-)submit your sitemaps

Don’t forget to tell Google about your improved site structure by submitting an XML sitemap in Search Console. This should ideally be a dynamic sitemap which will minimise the potential for errors as new content is added/removed.

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Originally hailing from the UK, Sydneysider Annabel is a digital marketer with over a decade's experience working with global agencies and brands. A data and spreadsheet aficionado, she recently swapped SEO for motherhood and we eagerly await the analytics report! She is also maternally bilingual in French and English and speaks fluent Spanish.