Build Better Site Structure to Boost SEO
Jun 21 2022
The most important goal for ecommerce sites is to reach the largest audience of highly-motivated buyers as possible, and a good SEO strategy is instrumental in achieving this goal. A properly optimized site is easier for search engines to discover and recommend to relevant audiences.
Most marketers understand the importance of keyword research in SEO, but SEO is made up of many other components as well. One key component — site structure — could be what your business needs to strengthen its SEO strategy.
The Connection Between Site Structure and SEO
Site structure consists of all the parts of your website, but it goes a step further to include how those parts connect and collaborate to create an easy-to-navigate web experience for both users and search engines.
Creating a user-friendly site that is easily crawled by Google gives the search engine confidence that this is an optimized and credible site with useful information. To put it more simply:
- Optimizing a site improves its chances of achieving a higher SERP ranking.
- A higher ranking means more people see your link.
- More people seeing your link means more people click on it.
- More site visitors means increased traffic, resulting in more leads and conversions.
Strategic internal links also give your site authority in the eyes of search engines. As noted by Backlinko, “When you internal link to high-priority pages, the more link authority (PageRank) will flow to those pages,” thus helping to improve Google rankings. In the case of an ecommerce site, high-priority pages are those that have the highest chance of conversion.
How Site Structure Affects SERP Ranking
Site structure should clearly illustrate the purpose of your site and what people can expect to purchase when they visit. Google determines your site’s central theme by collecting data from Googlebot, a bot used to crawl every internal and external link of websites for proper indexing. This data is also used to piece together how all of your site’s pages are connected. The more logical the site structure, the better chance that site has of earning a higher ranking in search results.
In the case of ecommerce, logical site structure is rooted in clearly defined categories and links connecting related product pages. This is important for establishing brand authority in your space and to make sure your site isn’t competing against itself in search results. Site structure essentially tells Google and other search engines which of your web pages is most important. Structures that don’t do this can result in your own web pages cannibalizing each other.
Tips for a Smart Structure
Begin to improve your site structure by addressing these key components.
Review the site structure of your competitors. Just as you would research which keywords they rank for, see how competitor sites are organized. What categories are listed on the homepage? How are individual categories structured, and how do they connect? What do the product descriptions include? Imagine you’re a potential buyer and take note of how quickly you find what you need.
Aim for flat site architecture. Backlinko describes this as a setup where “link authority flows from pages that tend to get lots of backlinks (like your homepage) to pages that you want to rank (like a product page).” Interested buyers shouldn’t have to click through pages and pages of menus to find the product they want or simple answers to basic questions. Consider which pages are most important for conversions and make sure they’re easily accessible from the homepage (ideally no more than three or four clicks away).
Design with internal linking in mind. Again, this is about creating logical pathways between related pages so web crawlers can easily understand your site. In the case of ecommerce, your best-selling product pages should include links to similar products and other related content, including helpful tutorials, FAQs, or customer reviews. This tactic also helps to keep visitors on your site for longer.
Another way to clearly mark pathways: breadcrumbs. These are words that appear at the top of the page as visitors delve further into product details. For example:
Women’s footwear → Running shoes → Competition shoes → Track spikes
These markers help users understand where they are in their search while also demonstrating the natural hierarchy of your site to web crawlers.
Repurpose keyword research. Use the keywords from your digital ad campaigns to inform site structure. Incorporate the most important keywords into product page descriptions, category labels, and URL structure when possible.
SEO is an evolving but essential tool in the digital marketing toolkit. By implementing changes to site structure and refining the overall structure based on solid data, you can optimize your chances for more conversions in the future.