15 December 2016 | Asad Imam

Digital Santa Presents – Site Architecture

Welcome back to our Christmas blog series ‘Digital Santa Presents …’ With the help of the Digital Santa, we will be talking you through how to optimise your website this Christmas.

This week, Digital Santa is discussing site architecture. Having a robust site architecture is key to ensure that the search bots find the relevant content on your site quickly and efficiently!

Flat architecture

One of the key aspects of an SEO-friendly website is that it has a relatively flat architecture. What this means is that the majority of the key landing on the sites should be available to the search bots within 4 clicks from the home page. This will ensure that the crawl budget is used efficiently, and all the key pages are found in minimum time.

picture comparing deep and flat site architecture

Source: www.sciartseo.com

Make the most of the navigation menu

The main tool to enable a flat site architecture is the navigation menu. It is typical for websites to have a navigation menu, however, it should be enhanced further. This means that not only should the navigation menu link to the main category pages, but sub-category pages too. In addition, you can add links to other popular pages on the site. To ensure that the maximum number of sub-category pages are linked from within the navigation menu, conduct a thorough category gap analysis, which should highlight which categories feature in the navigation menu flyout. Also, don’t forget to include the top seasonal pages in the navigation menu. E-commerce websites are particularly good at setting up an effective navigation menu.

image showing debenhams navigation menu flyout

 

Enhance Vertical linking

Vertical linking is achieved when pages either link to pages upwards or downwards in the information hierarchy. For example, an internal link on /jeans-denim pointing to a sub-category such /jeans-denim/skinny, either through content in the hero banner or through a side, is an example of downward vertical linking.

Vertical linking is useful for SEO, as it will enable the search bots to find the important sub-category pages in a minimum number of clicks.

picture showing example of vertical linking

Encourage Horizontal linking

Horizontal linking is achieved when internal links connect pages at the same level of information hierarchy. Sticking with an example above, if the /womens/jeans-denim/skinny page links to /shirts-tops/polo-shirts, then horizontal linking is being created. Similar to vertical links, horizontal links enable the search engines bots to find key content, at similar information hierarchy levels, quickly and efficiently. This ensures that the crawl budget is being used effectively.

Placement of Blogs, Magazines and News content

One of the most common mistake made in terms of site architecture is leaving out the blogs, magazine or news links from the navigation menu. This is a key missed SEO opportunity as it tells Google that these segments of the site are not crucial enough for the search engine to discover quickly. By adding links to your blogs from the navigation menu, you are also ensuring that the fresh, optimised regular content is found within 4 clicks. This freshness will encourage the search bot to visit the site on a regular basis.

Don’t forget the sitemaps

XML sitemaps can play a key role in establishing the site architecture in the eyes of the search engine. Google understands that establishing a flat site architecture is not always possible and for some websites as it may require significant amount web development. For such situations, an XML sitemap can prove to be very handy. Using an XML sitemap can not only tell the search engine how often a page is updated, by using this you can emphasize the priority levels of pages. This way you can set-up a flat architecture and enable the search engines to find important relevant content quickly and efficiently. A sitemap is particularly useful for very large e-commerce sites where it might be very cumbersome to add all the key pages to the navigation menu flyout. For such websites, an XML sitemap is a great way to enable the search engines to find crucial content in minimum clicks.

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-09-24-26

 

A robust site architecture can go a long in ensuring all the crucial content on the site is easily accessible to a search engine. Since it is less flexible to change, it is important that this is taken into consideration at the very start of a site build or migration. So if you have plans to dive into some heavy lifting of migrating the site to a new platform after Christmas is over, make sure a flat site architecture is at the top of your to-do list.

Don’t forget, the Tamar elves are always on hand to help you ensure your site is optimised, so if you have any questions about site architecture then why not get in touch?

Asad Imam

Asad Imam

Search Director - Responsible for directing SEO strategy and implementation to achieve industry-beating results for all agency clients.