SEO Website Architecture

A website’s internal hierarchy dictates the importance of content to search engines. Picture a typical company’s organisation chart. Now imagine that each box in the org chart is a page on your website. That’s the type of structure that search engines look for when they’re indexing websites.

Why?

Search engines want to make their users happy, so that those users will use them again in the future. One measure they take to accomplish this is placing an emphasis on directing search traffic to websites that are easy to understand and navigate. Think about it like this: If you’re looking at a site that has content related to planes, trains, and cars, with information on manufacturers, models, and specific trim levels for each type of vehicle, wouldn’t a hierarchy make sense? If none of the pages have a sensible relation to one another, how do you navigate from one page to the next effectively? A site hierarchy solves this challenge, and places each page of a website into a larger framework.

In addition to usability, search engines rely on an effective hierarchy to crawl websites thoroughly. If you don’t adhere to architecture best practices, your site may be unindexed or only partially indexed, costing you valuable impressions, traffic, and conversions.

Keys to great site architecture

URL Structure

Once you’ve established your website’s design in terms of a visual hierarchy, you have to support that hierarchy with consistent URL design. This means that a web page on the earlier mentioned site might have a URL similar to “http://www.planestrainscars.com/cars/chevrolet/malibu/1993/lx” rather than “http://www.planestrainscars.com/1993malibulx“. Notice that the first URL example shows a clear progression from a broad category down to a very specific item. This helps users navigate your site, and helps search engines understand the importance of each page and its relevance as a single piece of your larger site.

Canonicalisation

Search engines rank pages by authority for a given term. If crawlers find multiple versions of the same page when they index your site, your website could receive a penalty for duplicate content, lowering its authority within the search engine rankings. It’s for this reason that website architects should avoid duplicate pages at all costs. Many websites have paginated versions of their pages, www and non-www pages, and other duplicate pages within their domains, and ineffective management of these pages will negatively impact SEO efforts. Our team works with clients to use appropriate tags, URL parameters, pagination, and redirects to make sure that you’re only submitting one version of each page to search engines for indexing.

Responsiveness & Speed

Search engines are adjusting their standards to account for mobile users and those users who don’t have access to broadband internet. Today’s websites are constantly viewed on mobile devices, and your site will rank higher if it’s designed to adjust to smaller displays on smartphones and tablets. Site speed is an important factor for users on mobile and low quality connections, and Google in particular favours sites with faster loading speeds in search results.

HTTPS

Any webmaster has seen the impact of Google’s secure search in their Google Analytics dashboards. Now, Google is placing a ranking emphasis on websites that offer similar secure connections. Many digital thought leaders project a future where all websites follow the HTTPS standard, which means you should consider getting ahead of the curve and taking the SEO advantage while it’s still available.

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