How to create the ultimate website structure for SEO
Chapter 1: How to create the ultimate website structure for SEO
What do we mean when we talk about “website structure”?
When we talk about “website structure,” we’re talking about Information Architecture.
In the same way an architect comes up with a drawing of a house, showing what rooms it has and how they are linked; you want to draw a plan for your website that shows what web pages you have and how they are linked.
What you want to create by the time you’ve figured out your ultimate website structure, is a site plan that lists all your web pages, and shows how they sit in the website navigation.
The site plan will include:
- what your top level pages are in your main navigation/menu
- what sub-pages may exist under the top level (secondary navigation)
- what ‘other’ pages you need that might not live in the main menu
- how these ‘other’ pages will be navigated to.
The site plan doesn’t have to be fancy – in fact, keeping it simple will prevent you getting distracted by trying to make it perfect. It can be anything from a hand-written, bullet point list or an Excel spreadsheet, to a list created using tasks in an online planning tool like Asana. We recommend the latter – as your site plan will become the ‘Plan of Action’ for what web content needs writing, and in what order of priority.
The key considerations for SEO that we want you to keep in mind when creating your website structure, are:
- What are the key search terms that users are typing into search engines like Google, that are relevant to the products/services/information that your business offers?
- Do I have an individual web page in my site plan, for every single key search term?
For every product, service or type of information that your business provides to website visitors, there should be a web page on your website. A unique page for every product, a different page for every service, an individual page for each type of information – you get the picture.
So, with that in mind – let’s get started creating your ultimate, search engine optimised website structure!
Keyword research and strategy – tips to find the best keywords for your website
First things first – know your keywords and key search terms. This is the hardest part of creating your website structure and can cause a case of what we like to call “over analysis paralysis.” Keep it simple and start with answering the question:
What does my business offer?
If you’re a shop selling jewellery, you may come up with a list that looks like this:
- Wedding bands
- Diamond engagement rings
- Gemstone pendants
If you’re a service business, providing beauty therapy, your list might look like this:
- Hot stone massage
- Waxing and lasering
If you’re an information service, helping people with budgeting advice, your list could be a list of the most popular advice your customers ask for:
- How to make a budget
- How to pay off debt
- How to save money
… the lists go on – you’re doing great, get it all down on paper! Now, wasn’t that easy?
The next bit is where it gets a bit harder… The question you want to answer is
What are my (potential) customers searching for?
By this, we mean what are they searching for in the literal sense – what words do your potential customers type into search engines like Google? And are these the same words as the products or services you have listed? This is where keyword research comes in.
For our jewellery shop, it would be a good idea to think about whether potential customers are looking for “wedding bands” or in fact if they want “wedding rings”. Perhaps “pendants” aren’t popular and “necklaces” are in style. Fortunately, Google has a useful, free tool to help discover what’s trending in search – Google Trends. It only takes a few seconds to compare what your business offers, with what potential customers are looking for:
Keyword strategy is often over-cooked and businesses get caught up in semantics or how they perceive themselves. From a purely search perspective, the most important thing is what users are searching for – and the facts (which are available using free keyword tools, which we’ll list a bit later) speak for themselves. But if you get stuck, sometimes it’s best to call in the experts. Webstruxure can support you to identify which keywords count for your website structure.
Planning your website navigation – Must-have web pages for your business
So, following your keyword research – you should have a good list forming. But don’t forget the key web pages that every business needs – it’s not all about search engines. Your website visitors have needs and expectations when they visit your site. Their needs are based on what they’re looking for, and their expectations are often led by conventions. Users expect to see the following web pages when they visit your site:
The ‘shop window’ for your business – the home page should be a one-stop-shop for visitors to understand what you offer, what the benefits are of your business and to get a feel for your brand. The home page should be engaging and encourage visitors to delve deeper into your website and want to become a customer.
The about page tells visitors why they should choose your business over anyone else’s. Often, visitors are searching for something across multiple websites so this is where you need to create a connection with users and make sure they buy from YOU and not your competitors.
The about page should talk about your company values, what makes you unique. Make it human and personable – people relate to people, not faceless companies. Include pictures of your team, information about how you work, whether you have accreditation or awards that show the quality of your offering.
Services (if you’re a service business)
Search engines don’t like single-page lists of services. Back to our beauty therapist, if they simply list Hot stone massage, reflexology and waxing and lasering on one web page – Google won’t know what to rank the page for in search results. When a user searches for “hot stone massage” in Google, Google will display a web page that’s clearly about hot stone massage – over and above a page that seems to have multiple topics and doesn’t appear as relevant.
BUT, providing a list of services on one page is helpful to your users. An overview of what you offer, in one place, is useful – users don’t want to have to look far for information. And to keep the search engines happy (and for users looking for more information), the services page should link through to individual web pages for each service offered.
Products / Shop (if you sell products)
It’s the same principle as services – users want a summary of information about all the products you offer, in one place. You might list your products by brand, by product category, etc. What’s important is you have a single page for users to understand what they can buy from you – including links to more information on each product, within individual web pages. (A big tick for users AND search engine optimisation).
Portfolio / Projects
Users like to see examples of your work, so they can get a feel for the quality of what you offer. It’s another way of showing your company’s brand and what’s unique about your offering.
More importantly, the projects or portfolio pages are one way to incorporate more key search terms into your website. As an example, if you’re an electrician, one of your key search terms might be “LED lighting.” You offer your services in Wellington, New Zealand. One way of incorporating “LED lighting Wellington” into your website structure, is including a Project page called “LED lighting Wellington” which describes the installation of LED lighting for a Wellington-based customer!
As a bonus, portfolio or projects pages are also a great way of keeping your website up to date – something that’s important for SEO is posting fresh content on a regular basis. Every time you finish a project you’re proud of, get it up on your website.
Blog / News
If you can commit to updating your website regularly (at least once a fortnight – and the more regularly, the better) – then including a blog or news section will support this. To reiterate the point – posting fresh content on a regular basis is crucial for SEO.
But I have nothing to say?! you might be saying… Have no fear, Webstruxure is here to help you find what topics you have to blog about. In Chapter 3 we describe how to create a blog content calendar and ensure your content is fresh.
Nothing gives warm fuzzies like the words of happy customers – well, maybe not. But including testimonials can help support why potential customers should choose you over your competitors. You might have Facebook reviews or Google reviews in the online space – show them off by displaying them on your website. You can also include testimonials on the relevant ‘Projects’ or ‘Portfolio’ page, from the customer whose project you describe.
Testimonials help build trust and credibility in your business.
At Webstruxure, we think that website visitors should have a way of contacting you from every web page on your website – so they can get in touch and take action without leaving one page to find your contact information. But it’s still important to include a ‘Contact’ page of its own.
You should include your street address, phone number(s), a Google map, email address and contact form. And links to your social media pages.
Here’s a tip, particularly for service companies – integrate Facebook Messenger into your website. Increasingly, users like to utilise Facebook to get in touch with companies – so help them to do so, directly from your site. It’s as simple as adding a Facebook Messenger icon to your site – when a user clicks on it, they see a Messenger window where they can type their message. The best thing about this is, once they leave your site, their message still appears in their Facebook messages, so you can keep the connection going.
‘Other’ web pages – adding to your site plan
Your site plan may need to incorporate pages that:
- don’t appear in the main navigation
- are seasonal/campaign pages that are time-limited
- haven’t been ‘thought of’ yet
Pages that don’t appear in the main navigation, but are important
You don’t have to include every web page in your website menus. Seasonal or campaign pages, that are published for a short time, can be accessed in several ways that don’t include appearing in your top level navigation or footer:
- Linked to via online banner advertising
- Linked to via AdWords
- Linked to using ‘banner’ or a hyperlink on one or more pages of your website
You should use your site plan to keep a note of any campaign/seasonal pages, so you can ensure any links to them are removed once the campaign ends.
Pages that haven’t been ‘thought of’
Your site plan should be flexible to incorporating new pages as your website goals and business needs evolve. Adding new services or products should be easy within the planned site structure, but what about an unplanned website section if you pursue a new business venture? Can your website support substantial new content, without negatively impacting on the overall structure?
Bringing together your website structure – search engine optimise your site plan
We’ve given you a lot of information, so let’s take a step back and think about what your site plan might look like by this point:
- Wedding rings
- Diamond engagement rings
- Custom designed diamond ring
- Gemstone necklace
- Ring design Wellington
You’ve done your keyword research based on what users are searching for vs what you offer. You’ve started to incorporate search terms using products and portfolio pages.
But could you still be missing the key search words that potential customers are using – and therefore missing out on potential website visitors? It’s time to look at some useful tools to find popular search terms related to your business, and incorporate them to give your site plan a final SEO-boost!
Google Keyword Planner – Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to type in up to 3 search terms, and gives you details of related search terms and the volume for each term. An example of a recent client we researched using Google’s Keyword Planner, is a Wellington-based electrician. We typed in “electrician” and Google came back with:
- Residential electrician
- Electrical installation
- Electrical maintenance
- Electrician Wellington
These are the most popular, related search terms being typed into Google – so this electrician’s website should include a page for each term. We recommended incorporating “electrical installation” and “electrical maintenance” as services pages. Residential electrician and electrician Wellington could be incorporated by utilising projects, blogs or even campaign landing pages.
Moz Keyword Explorer – Moz’s keyword explorer tool is similar to Google’s keyword planner tool. In fact, we think it’s simpler to use and understand, but it costs to use. Get started with a free 30-day trial, we think you’ll quickly be hooked.
Turning your site plan into a ‘Plan of Action’ for writing web content
If you’ve come this far, you should have your site plan mapped out and ready to go!
Writing website content is a big task, and this can get in the way of getting your website up and running quickly. But the great thing about building a WordPress website with Webstruxure, is it’s easy for you to add new web pages, and it only takes moments to edit a page. So treat your site as a work in progress – get something up fast, and refine it over time.
Start with writing content for your top level pages, and ensure that your main services or products all have a page. Prioritise your web pages based on your business goals or getting information up about your most popular products/services. Once these are up, work at getting lower priority pages up as and when you have time.
Building your website structure with Webstruxure
If you’re building your website with Webstruxure, we will help with the task of identifying your keywords and incorporating them into your website – creating a site plan. We can also help with the task of identifying which pages you should focus on creating content for first, and which can come later.