You wouldn’t want users to return from your website because of a poor website structure.
Forget about how quickly they will bounce, what’s more important is Google’s crawler which is unlikely to pay any heed to your website.
The structure of your website and hierarchy is something that needs your maximum attention.
If your website is logically fixed in terms of its structure, UX, and navigation, Google will reward you with higher rankings thus pushing you to the top of its SERP.
As a marketer, you already know how different activities are interconnected across channels.
In such situations, the importance of site structure and hierarchy in the context of overall SEO grows more.
Before we deeply analyze how important they are, let’s first understand the meaning of Site Structure & Hierarchy quickly:
What is a Website Structure?
Simply put, site structure refers to how a website’s pages and content are organized and then presented to its viewers.
It talks about how different pages are interconnected with each other.
From the hierarchical point of view, this also relates to constructing clean navigation, designing a comforting user interface, and linking all the relevant content to make it easy for users to access the website.
And from Google’s perspective, a smooth site structure makes it easy to crawl and understand what the website is all about.
As per statistics, 90% of users leave a website due to a poor viewing experience and switch to a competitor.
Also, a lot of companies do not care to include a sitemap on their website. Well, they are missing out on an uncovered opportunity.
A sitemap provides visitors with a complete map of your website, ensuring that crawlers effectively index the pages and rank relevant content.
An optimized site structure involves many elements like website URLs, titles, meta descriptions, etc., helping the website become more user as well as search friendly.
What is Site Hierarchy in SEO?
Hierarchy refers to how specific content is arranged on a website with the most important and broadest content of all showcased on the top of the page and sub-topics further below.
It involves creating a logical hierarchy of content by using headings, subheadings, and other necessary elements.
Additionally, hierarchy helps in sending positive signals to Google about the relationship between different pages and sections of content.
Moreover, websites with a good and optimized hierarchy structure allow visitors to navigate the website and locate the information they require quickly and efficiently.
Merely knowing what site structure and hierarchy mean in the SEO context isn’t enough for your website’s success.
Let’s understand their importance in detail below:
Why an optimized Site Structure is important?
It’s 2023, and Google’s focus is purely on enhancing the experience of its users and helping them find the most relevant information in the least amount of time.
No matter how big or small your company is, your website must have a solid structure & hierarchical elements to ensure visitors find what they want as quickly as possible.
Moreover, if the structure of your site is sound enough, it will not improve your search engine rankings.
This will encourage visitors to spend more time on your website compared to the scenes where they used to bounce to your competitor’s site immediately.
To highlight the importance in a more effective manner, here are 4 basic reasons why you should incorporate a great site structure:
1. Helps you improve users’ experience:
If your website has a great UX, users are unlikely to bounce to your competitor’s website because you have provided them with a clean structure, smooth navigation, and everything they might be looking out for in the least number of clicks.
Also, websites with a great user experience factor are ranked higher in the eyes of Google’s crawlers. The better the user experience of your website, the more positive impact it will have on your website’s SEO.
2. Mobile-first indexing & increased dwell time:
With the increase in the number of mobile users, Google is believed to prioritize the mobile version of websites over the desktop version.
This means if your website’s structure and design are well-optimized for mobile layout, you’re more likely to be discovered and pushed upwards by Google.
Of course, there are many other factors in terms of on-page SEO, content, etc., that play a major role in a website appearing on the top of a results page.
When we talk about dwell time, an impressive and intuitive site structure can encourage visitors to spend more time on your website.
Accordingly, an increase in time spent will lead to a positive rise in the percentage of session durations on the analytics dashboard.
The quick finding of desired content by visitors will subconsciously motivate them to explore more of your content published.
3. Increase in site speed and feature of snippets on the SERP:
An optimized site structure shall result in a minimum number of clicks and maximum information passed on with less hassle to visitors.
By incorporating a balanced number of necessary site and content elements, you can make sure that your site loads quickly and doesn’t force users to bounce off.
Talking about snippets, Google prefers picking up only the most relevant content that too, which is properly organized and presented keeping in mind users and not crawlers.
And if your website’s content is able to snatch the position of the featured snippet which is usually displayed on the top of the SERP page, you will automatically fly past your competition.
Now that you fairly know why building a great website structure is extremely necessary, let’s look at 5 actionable tips you can implement to refine the structure of your website and make it SEO-friendly:
5 Best tips to optimize Site Structure & Hierarchy in 2023
Organize web content logically:
Always remember: Your website is more for your target audience, and not for the bots.
Of course, you would keep in mind Google’s crawler for indexing your site and ranking it high in its results but it’s also about the value you intend to provide to the visitors.
For this to work well, you need to ensure that the content published on the website is logically and structurally rich and in order.
You would be surprised to know that almost 40% of users stop engaging further due to the untidy appearance of a website and jump to another one.
Organizing content into clearly defined categories and respective sections is extremely important to ensure each page of your website has a clear purpose.
Pay attention to headings & subheadings:
When we talk about the structure & hierarchy of elements and content present on the entire website, we also intend to bring your attention to the order of individual pages.
Now, why is this so important?
You see – when you utilize the usability and power of a heading hierarchy, you automatically construct a neat structure for both crawlers as well as humans to interpret and understand.
With the help of a headings hierarchy, you can organize the on-page content and bifurcate them as per their respective importance in categories like H1, H2, H3, and so on till H6.
Assigning these headings to your content is pretty simple and will drastically improve the readability experience of the visitors.
In simple words, breadcrumbs are nothing but short navigation menus that help visitors in navigating a website easily.
Using them will encourage more user engagement and increase session durations as visitors will be able to quickly locate the pages they intend to visit.
But that’s not it. The biggest benefit of using breadcrumbs is that it helps Google in featuring different site links of your website on its SERP page thus providing you with more discoverability options and a chance to get noticed quickly compared to your competitors.
A lot of companies ignore this crucial on-page SEO factor and miss out on the opportunity of providing their users with an excellent website experience.
This leads to Google not paying attention to its website and pushing them down its list of results.
Leverage the power of internal linking:
There’s a ton of content published on your website. Sadly, all that’s a waste if you’re not linking out to different internal resources on your site.
When you perform proper internal linking wherever necessary, it allows Google to understand the relationship between two particular pages and sections of content.
The ideal purpose of internal links is not only to guide users to other resources but also to increase session durations on the website.
Developing an internal linking strategy is a decision you won’t regret because it will help you map the flow and behavior of different users on the analytics dashboard thus allowing you to better enter your anchor texts in the content published.
Implement the ‘3 clicks from the homepage’ rule:
Well, it’s true that the Page Per Session factor is crucial for the performance of your website as it boosts chances of getting it positioned in the top bracket.
However, it is equally important to remember that the fewer clicks a user needs to make to reach the most important pages on your website, the better.
To ensure this efficiency, your site should allow visitors to easily navigate between important pages.
By doing this, you pass on link authority from your homepage to other important pages and enhance visitors’ navigation.
One of the worst things any company would badly wish to avoid is nothing but creating a website that confuses visitors more and attracts less.
Now that you know the exact optimization tips for your website’s structure, you also need to know the mistakes that will hinder a great navigation system.
3 common site structure mistakes the majority of website owners commit
Not featuring pillar content on the top:
It doesn’t matter if you’re creating the most engaging content among your competitors. If you’re failing to link it on your top pages, it’s of no use.
It’s all about understanding all the main topics that you intend to write blogs on and then further categorizing them into sub-topics or categories for better navigation.
These can be the key blogs that describe your business intent and the goals that you seek to achieve by educating your target audience.
Also, it’s advisable to practice providing internal links to such pillar blog pieces for better visibility and increased session durations on the website.
Overuse of categories & tags:
Assigning categories and tags to every content published can become one of the key factors for a website in its failure to attract attention from visitors.
A lot of companies tend to overuse categories whereas, in reality, they should be relatively lesser and smaller in size.
The usage of categories and tags depends on the nature of your website. Categories allow you to go deeper into your content and help you segregate different topics under one roof.
On the contrary, tags are more specific in nature and can boost your content’s visibility on the search results page if proper SEO guidelines are performed keeping in mind the on-page factors mainly.
Avoiding the creation of a website’s structural blueprint:
A lot of companies directly begin to design their website without roughly visualizing what they want it to look like.
This leads to the creation of a website that has poor navigation, inconsistent arrangement of content, and a highly confusing environment for visitors.
Here’s what you can do: Before you sit down with the development team, create a rough sketch of your entire website visualizing what your requirements demand of you to create.
Your Site Structure is everything
To say the least, a well-structured site hierarchy is extremely necessary for SEO success in today’s cut-throat digital landscape.
By ensuring all the recommended factors of structure & hierarchy mentioned above, you can increase your chances of conquering the top position on search engines.
The only need is to pay attention to enhancing the user experience in the finest manner possible.
If this is done perfectly, the rest will be taken care of by Google.