There are myriad factors involved in how your business performs in the online arena, and you need to make sure that your efforts are aligned to deliver the best possible user experience and optimize for maximum ROI. While it’s easy to focus on content, SEO, and advertising efforts, you also need to make sure you have a strong foundation for driving traffic and conversions.
This begins with understanding the role your site architecture plays. What is site architecture and how does it contribute to (or hinder) successes in the online arena? How does it impact SEO and drive organic traffic? Here’s what you need to know.
What is Site Architecture?
Loosely defined, website architecture includes the design elements that go into making your website function, from the graphic design and content strategy, to the user interface and interaction design, to the overall web design. Site architecture has to do with how your website displays and its general usability – what it looks like and how it is navigated.
However, it’s not just about user experience. Site architecture also includes elements that go unseen by all but search engine crawlers. How your website is structured, linked, and layered impacts how it is viewed and indexed by search bots, and this plays an important role in your SEO strategy, as well as achieving your business goals.
Strategies for Optimizing Your Architecture
First and foremost, your architecture needs to focus on usability. It doesn’t matter how much traffic you bring in if users can’t navigate intuitively and easily find what they’re looking for.
However, the secondary goal is, of course, to attract relevant traffic. This means ensuring that important pages (like product pages, for example) are getting indexed, so that they appear with prominent ranking for targeted searches.
The best way to ensure indexing is with high visibility, and this means setting up your site architecture so that the most important pages are within 1-2 clicks of your homepage. The more clicks it takes to reach a page from your homepage, the longer the URL will be, and the more difficult it becomes for bots to index.
In addition, long URLs are related to long keywords. While long-tail keywords can be useful in SEO as a means of geo-targeting, for example, you don’t necessarily want keywords to be arbitrarily long and confusing. With a shallow navigation structure (i.e. pages within 1-2 clicks of the homepage), you’ll not only make it easier for users to get where they’re going, but for bots to properly index your pages.
Why is Site Architecture Important?
Now that you know what site architecture is and how to optimize, you’re probably wondering how it will help to drive organic traffic. As mentioned, shallow navigation is ideal for search indexing, which improves opportunities to rank highly for targeted searches, potentially increasing traffic from users seeking what you have to offer.
In addition, you want to prioritize links to the most important pages on your site by placing them as close to the homepage as possible (within a single click), so that Google assigns them the greatest priority. This, in turn, could help to boost rankings for pages, when paired with other SEO efforts, helping you surpass competitors and nab coveted organic search traffic.