Why Is It Important To Setup Your Site Structure Before You Make Your Website?
The why and how of laying down a basic structure of your website is critical. The experience that users have on your website and the way you deal with the SEO determines the probability of success your website will have.
You love optics but before you delve into them you need to know what you’re actually going to make.
The Website Anatomy
Imagine a building. What does its structure signify? It shows you how different parts of it are interconnected and how one section leads you to another. There’s something similar happening with a website. Its structure lets you decide how different pages of your website are interlinked and how, through leading pages, you can reach pages that are placed deeper.
Why build it?
Just like it’s important to build basic structure of a building, it’s also significant to create a basic skeleton of your website before you move on to other things. It enhances visitor experience and refines SEO. The structure doesn’t only deal with the website, it’s also useful for internal linking and blogging.
1- User Experience
One of the primary reason to build it is to improve user experience. Now what does that mean? It means when someone visits your website, they don’t encounter any kinds of issues whatsoever in gleaning information and navigating. Search engines consider data such as bounce rate and the time being spent on your website by someone. If your website is easy-to-steer, people are likely to spend more time on it, improving your SEO ranking.
2- Web Crawlers
Web Crawlers are tools used by search engines to “crawl” on your website. They make sure your website is showing up in a search engine and not biting dust in oblivion. If the structure isn’t good enough, they might not be able to check all of your pages. And that’s why you need to provide a sitemap.
3- Capturing the SEO
When you plan a structure, you place different materials at different places. It means you’re putting similar items at one place and different things at another. In terms of a website, they’re often called content groups. What purpose do they serve? They interconnect your content and make it discernable for a search engine. Silos is another buzzword often thrown around in this scenario. Literally, silo is a structure that’s utilized for storing items in bulk. You create web silos by interconnecting content. But how does that happen? It’s done by internally linking your content. The page getting the most backlinks, which usually is your homepage, is the source from where you spread authority towards other pages.
4- Anticipating Results
What does it mean? While creating a structure, you’re also researching the probabilities of your success. How? By investigating keywords and evaluating competitors. It will help you assess the level of traffic you’ll be receiving. The easiest keywords should be your pivot because you’re not an expert. But they should also earn you traffic.
Bigger markets need better keywords. But you can settle for less too, if you’re unequivocal about getting enough traffic. But there’s no point in getting people to reach your site if they run away instantly. Retention is critical. You need to have a solid Conversion Rate Optimization, CRO.
Till now, we’ve been dealing with the why. You need to create the structure too.
Before going to the core methodology of creating the structure itself, you need to figure out how it looks like. Make a plan. That’s needed so that when you get to the actual process of making it, you don’t have any headaches. It’s like ascertaining the building materials you need. You should assess what specific pages will feature, not just mention their names. You’ll also be able to see duplicate titles and pages.
Now we’ll move onto laying the first bricks, the very process of building your website’s structure:
1- Know Thyself
While this may sound like something from a Socratic monologue, it holds great value for your website. Familiarize yourself with your enterprise.
What’s your industry like? What is the nature of your competitors? What products do you sell and what’s their essence? What are the upper and lower price limitations? If someone had to choose an alternative to your offer, where would they go? These questions will serve as stepping stones for your research.
2- Research Keywords:
There are paid tools and there are free tools to search for them. While paid tools have a slight advantage over the free ones, the latter do fine, too.
Install an add-on called Keywords Everywhere. What purpose does this tool serve, except from giving a fancy appearance? Well, it tells you about the magnitude of search and the competition you’ll get along the way.
Let’s suppose you run a shoe business. If you type shoe in the search bar, you’ll see cost per click, volume, and competition just below it. But your focus should be the corresponding searches at the bottom of the page and keywords appearing on the right side. Save all of them and use what’s significant for you. Use these keyword again to gather fresh ideas. Put them in a Google sheet and write their volume and competition beside them.
3- Investigate Competition:
Estimate the traffic that websites get through the keywords you’ve gathered. Put a keyword in Google and check which websites rank the best for it. Check the first page definitely. Ideally, surf through the second page as well. Paste the URLs in Ubersuggest and evaluate their prime pages. Through this method you can see their best performing pages and the keywords they feature.
Here, you need to filter those keywords that are popular but have low competition because you’re at your early stages. Avoid keyword stuffing. Post only those that are useful for you. In this way, you also get a traffic estimate. Now check the first pages to have an idea about formulating yours. Select the country you’re located in to see relevant results.
4- Mapping & URL construction:
Map your data using hierarchical structures. It means taking a top down approach. Put main pages on top and then go down smoothly.
This is where you feature your homepage, services, contact and the like. The URL will look like this: shoes.com/contact
The structure of URL needs to have words instead of symbols. It also should contain hyphens. Avoid underscores.
Make navigation simple. Don’t bury your pages too deep. Use HTML or CSS. Avoid using AJAX and the like to provide ease in navigation. Keep your header clean. Ideally, it should only have your name and important navigation.
5- Internal Linking & Sitemap:
Linking strategy helps with assigning authority. For instance, if one page is receiving a lot of backlinks, share its authority with other pages to create a network. It makes navigation easier for both the reader and Google. Basically, every page should be interlinked to at least one other page. Your website has categories. Posts of the same category should be linked. Cross-category linkage isn’t suitable.
Sitemap is a file that contains all the contents of your website. It get updated regularly. It makes it effortless for search engines to get notified about your latest pages and also helps to index them.
Since now you’ll be able to map basic structure of your website, you’ll be able to attract traffic. After getting that chunk of traffic, you’ll be able to decide what to do further. Once you’ve your basic skeleton done, you’ve a solid foundation to build upon it. You can now come up with your design orientations.