Optimize Your Website Architecture to Boost Your SEO

Written on
September 25, 2020
by
Matt Wilson
in
Technical Optimization
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Website architecture is a key component of an effective SEO strategy. However, it’s easy to overlook. You can be using all the right keywords and a great link building strategy, but if your site architecture isn’t helping search engines find and index your pages, you may be blocking your own site from appearing higher in SEO rankings. Here’s what you need to know about:

  1. What website architecture is
  2. Why it’s important for your SEO
  3. What you should do to optimize it for winning results

Read on to learn how your website architecture can make or break your SEO performance.

What Is Website Architecture?

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In an SEO context, website architecture refers to the structure which organizes the content on your website. It includes two main components which complement each other, one for human visitors and one for search engine robots:

  • The navigational hierarchy which guides human users through your content via menus, categories, tags and other internal links
  • The corresponding technical framework which allows search engine robots to crawl, index and rank pages on your site

Together these elements define your website architecture.

How Does Website Architecture Affect SEO Performance?

Your website’s architecture can affect your SEO results in three main ways:

  • Allowing robots to crawl your pages
  • Helping robots identify which pages on your site should be indexed and prioritized
  • Promoting clicks from human visitors

If a search engine robot can’t crawl a page on your site, that page can’t be indexed or ranked. A number of factors in your site architecture can block pages from being crawled. The algorithm that guides Google’s robot assigns what is known as a crawl budget to each site. Basically, this means that the robot will only index a limited number of pages on your site at a given time based on what your site’s architecture identifies as most important. Pages which exceed the scope of your site’s crawl budget because your architecture doesn’t identify them as priorities may never get indexed.

Search engine robots can also be discouraged from crawling pages by a number of other factors. These include:

  • Excessively long URLs which take too long to crawl
  • Dynamic URLs and session IDs which create multiple version of the same page with slightly differing URL suffixes
  • Duplications of URLs created by blog post archives, categories and tags
  • Menu navigational links which are encoded in JavaScript rather than HTML
  • Differences between your site’s mobile and desktop navigational linking structure
  • Code which instructs robots not to crawl or index certain pages
  • Passwords protecting certain pages
  • Errors, such as URL typos and broken links which point to missing pages

Even after a page has been crawled, a robot still needs to determine whether to index it and how to rank its importance in relation to other pages on your site. When a robot first arrives on your site, it first looks for a file called robots.txt which provides instructions on which pages to crawl and how long to wait for them to load before crawling them. You can also help robots index and rank pages on your site by providing a sitemap, which is an organized list telling search engines which of your pages and navigational features are most important for crawling and indexing.

Finally, the number of clicks your pages are getting from human visitors lets search engines know which pages on your site are most important. If visitors can easily access a page through your navigational menus, it will promote more clicks to that page, which can increase that page’s ranking. On the other hand, if a page is buried in your navigational structure and hard to find, it will get fewer clicks, which can lower its ranking.

How Do You Optimize Website Architecture?

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You can take a number of steps to improve your website architecture so that your pages get crawled, indexed and ranked correctly:

  • Keep URLs simple and unique, avoiding long URLs and dynamic URLs
  • Double-check URLs for typos and broken links
  • Use secure HTTPS protocol in your URLs
  • Use a hierarchy of navigational menus and other internal links which allow visitors and robots to reach any page by following four or fewer links (a strategy known as a “flat” architecture)
  • Use menus and categories to organize pages into content hierarchies, linking menus to categories and categories to individual pages
  • Label internal links with relevant anchor text
  • Provide robots.txt and sitemap files to guide search engine robots
  • For pages with multiple versions, use canonical tags and 301 redirects to let search engines know which version to prioritize
  • Use the noindex metatag to keep robots from indexing pages you don’t want indexed, such as duplicate pages created by categories and archives
  • Use the nofollow metatag to keep robots from following links you don’t want followed
  • Avoid JavaScript menus or take steps to help Google’s robot access them
  • Test your site to make sure it loads quickly and renders properly on mobile devices

If you’re not sure how to implement these steps, seek assistance from a knowledgeable SEO consultant.

Incorporate Website Architecture into a Winning SEO Strategy

Website architecture forms one important component of your SEO strategy. To be effective, an overall SEO strategy must also cover other essential bases such as keyword selection and link building. SimpleTiger specializes in helping B2B SaaS providers develop customized SEO strategies to boost traffic and scale up revenue. Take a few minutes to fill out our short online form and tell us about your SEO needs so we can schedule a discovery call and help you develop a plan to increase your traffic and attract more customers.

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