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The start of the New Year is all about adapting to some of the changes we saw in 2013, and as most of us know, there were quite a few and this will be quite a task. Nonetheless, you can’t forget about the basic necessities of your website. Creating great content and promoting that content, particularly through SEO and social media, is wonderful, but 2014 might be the year to analyze your site’s structure. It doesn’t sound as fun, but it’s just as important as keeping up with those “new age” practices.
How to Improve Your Website’s Architecture for Google and Your Readers
[Tweet “Analyzing and making changes to your site’s architecture should be a constant task.”] In most cases, a company creates one, original architecture for their site and then moves on to the next task. It works, so why bother spending time making changes? The truth is that the architecture of your site tells Google a lot about it, which Google uses when evaluating your site. Analyzing and making changes to your site’s architecture should be a constant task.
Below are a few of the specific elements of a website’s structure that Google takes into consideration, along with what you can do to improve your site:
1. Site Schemes
Your site scheme is essentially the navigation structure of your website—how the website was created including categories, where your pages land on your website, etc. This is directly related to navigation, so the scheme you use for your site’s architecture is going to have the largest impact on your SEO.
2. Site Depth
When we talk about the “depth” of a website, we are talking about the number of clicks it takes a user to get to any one page. Ideally, you want to stay under the number four. If it takes any more clicks than that, visitors and Google bots could get confused.
I recommend installing breadcrumbs to make it easy for those visiting your site to see where they have navigated thus far. It’s also crucial that you have categories to help people navigate your site, but don’t have too many subcategories (remember, you want it to take no more than four clicks to get to any page, and in fact less would be better). Of course, internal linking, discussed below, is also a great way to make improvements.
This is probably the easiest way to control the depth of your website. You want people to be able to navigate to different pages easily, so if you put internal links within your content you’re giving people a relevant link that will send them to another page—one they probably would have searched for in the first place.
This is also an easy change to make. As you write content, always consider whether or not you’re discussing an idea you’ve already written about in the past, and then link to that page. In fact, it helps to make internal linking a requirement for your writers so that you know you’re not missing an opportunity. You can also go back and look at some of your most popular articles and add in internal links later if you didn’t initially.
Site Architecture and SEO: The Moral of the Story
Most of these changes can be made by going into the back end of your site, which you can learn more about here. You don’t need to set aside much time, and you probably only need to worry about this two or three times per year. Nonetheless, stay on top of all the changes Google makes and consider whether or not your site’s architecture is still up to par.
Can you think of any other aspects of a site’s architecture that can affect rankings and/or reputation? Have you ever altered aspects of your site’s architecture and seen major improvements, either through Google or your visitors? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility.com, one of the leading SEO companies in the United States.