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Is Your Website Structure Holding Back Your SEO Rankings?

Phillip Reinhardt

Search engine optimization or SEO is a way for a website to increase brand exposure through search engine results. SEO works by increasing organic search results and by improving the amount and value of website traffic.

There are a variety of aspects that go into SEO rankings. First off, it is essential to understand how people search online, what they are searching for and what type of content they desire from their searches.

There are many ways that people can search today. Gone are the days of typing in a query to a search engine. Now, you can ask Google, ask Siri, ask Alexa or even voice type into your mobile device. People are using more natural language-based searches as a result of all of these search options. Taking these considerations into account should be an integral part of the website structure and design of your business.

SEO is vitally important to the life of your organization. Industry estimates indicate that more than 53% of all website traffic originates from organic searches on search engines. Yes, website traffic can be driven by social media and paid advertising, but by and large, website traffic is driven by search engines. Therefore, it is essential to make sure your website structure is optimized for SEO rankings.

When SEO is set up properly, it will continue to drive traffic to your site for the long haul. This doesn’t mean that you will never have to make adjustments, but doing most of the work on the front end will save you time and money in the future.

How do you know if your website is holding back your SEO rankings? Read on to learn more about website structure, how it affects SEO and some things you can do to make sure you are getting the most out of your website.

What Is Website Structure Anyway?

When you first had the idea for your organization, the website probably wasn’t the first thing on your mind. As the business model developed, you likely spent money and time building a fantastic website for your company. You did all the work on the front end, making sure you got things right the first time around.

Months or even years into the business, you realize that your website isn’t driving traffic as it should. Why is your SEO ranking poor? Your website structure may be one reason your SEO rankings may not be as good as you would like.

Website structure, or layout, is built to make it easy for people to use your website and make it easy for search engines to crawl your site and index its pages. Speed, keywords, links, URL length and many other things play into a website structure. Like it or not, there’s a difference between a website looking amazing and performing amazingly. Website visitors should be able to navigate your site easily and without confusion.

Are you confident you're making the right decisions to improve SEO on your website?

Types of Website Organization

There are several different ways to organize a website. The most common type of website structure is a hierarchical model of organization. Often compared to the structure of a family tree, this type of website has a central “parent” page loaded with general information. Other pages, deemed “child” pages, are loaded with more specific information. Movement between pages on a hierarchical website is both horizontal and vertical.

A website can also be designed in a sequential manner. Instead of an up-and-down or side-to-side way of traveling within a website, the visitor of a sequential website travels either forward or backward.

More popular at the early advent of the internet was the third type of website design, the matrix model. In this type of website structure, lots of links are listed under topic groups. Visitors to a website choose their path.

Lastly, the database model of website structure and design integrates a database with a search on a website. If organized properly, this model of website structure is very user-friendly.

Website structure is directly related to user experience, site links, better crawling and more. No matter the type of website structure you have chosen for your organization’s website, there are several recurrent issues concerning website structure that can affect SEO rankings. Luckily, at PBJ Marketing, we know how to improve SEO rankings.

How Can You Improve SEO Rankings Within Your Website Structure?

You know that website design and organization have a significant impact on SEO rankings. When designing a website or making adjustments to an existing website, there are several considerations to incorporate SEO-friendly functionality and improve organic site traffic.

Brainstorm Before you Begin

Much like you don’t jump into business without some sort of business plan, you shouldn’t launch a website without thinking about how it will work and what it will look like on a screen.

Already have a website? The longer your website has been around, chances are it has gotten more complicated with additional content, categories, pages and links upon links. It may start to look like a tree with tangled roots. Don’t worry; you won’t have to start from scratch if you want to improve your SEO ranking. The roots of your SEO are grounded in the structure of your website.

Imagine you are visiting your website for the first time. How do you get there? What do you want to find when you arrive? Answering these key questions will help you think about site organization.

Takeaway: Look at your site with fresh eyes. Can you navigate it easily, or does it take a while to find things? Take the time to sit down and brainstorm how it could be better.

Optimize Your Website

One of the first things you can do to drive organic traffic to your website is to make sure keyword page titles and keyword density work properly. Check to make sure there is content on your website that is directly related to your keywords.

Another way to optimize? Use title tags that take advantage of keywords. Make them short and think about natural language searching. Review meta descriptions. These short snippets of no longer than 160 characters should contain keywords. They are designed to drive traffic, so think about making sure they draw people into your site.

Takeaway: Keywords, keywords, keywords. Think about how people will search for your site and what they will be searching for once they get there. Use these keywords appropriately, and you’ll likely reap the benefits.

Look at URL Structure

Your URLs should be easily digestible and readable by people and search engines. Think about how your website is designed when you create your URLs. They can be organized by homepage, category page, then a smaller category. For example, this link will take you to PBJ Marketing’s blog post on Google Myth Busting SEO Facts and Fiction. The structure used is the name of the homepage > blog > title of the article.

Takeaway: The best motto for URL structure? KISS. Yes, we mean: keep it simple stupid. Look at URL length and try to keep the character count between 50-100. The URL in the link above? It looks long, but it is only 64 characters.

Utilize Internal Links

Internal linking within a website also helps people and search engines get to pages. Internal links link pages on your website to another page on the same website. Try to make your entire website accessible with only a few clicks. Three or less is optimal. We used a few in this article, even in links to other PBJ blog posts on SEO!

Think of the internal links like the mortar between bricks on a house or wall. If there isn’t any mortar, the house or wall crumbles. The links on your website have a major impact on your SEO ranking.

Takeaway: Take advantage of internal linking. Try it out — can you get where you need to go in three clicks or less? If not, take a hard look at your internal linking.

Don’t Repeat Content

An excellent way to damage your SEO ranking is to use duplicate content within your website structure. Copyscape is the gold standard tool to find and knock out duplicate content within the text on pages of your website. URLs can also be a source of repeat content. Check them on a routine basis to make sure your content isn’t being duplicated.

Takeaway: Check to see if you have duplicate content on your website or if your pages have been duplicated somewhere else on the web.

Utilize Social Media and Business Listings

Organic site traffic can be driven by searches and by click-throughs on social media pages and posts. Organic traffic can also come from business listings and online reviews.

Facebook, Google Business, Linkedin, Instagram and even Pinterest can all be sources that can expand your online presence and drive traffic to your site. They are also easy — and cheap — ways to update your fans and customers on what is happening with your brand.

Takeaway: Grow your social media presence. You’ll increase website traffic in the process.

Be Willing to Adapt

Things are constantly changing. Your website should stay on top of the latest developments in marketing and content. Don’t be afraid to adapt and change with the times.

Set a reminder in your calendar regularly to seek out the newest SEO strategies. You may discover that you’ve been missing out on something ridiculously easy to integrate into your website. Sometimes the easiest tweaks lead to the biggest rewards.

Takeaway: Schedule semi-annual website reviews, read blogs and articles about new SEO strategies. Take advantage of information that is out there to make your website the best it can be.

Go Mobile

Mobile devices make up over half of all internet usage. You should make sure your website is made for viewing on mobile devices. Check to make sure your text is readable. Think about the size of a screen a mobile visitor uses. Make sure your page loads quickly — nothing is more frustrating than clicking on a link only to get that dreaded white screen of nothingness while the page slowly loads.

Takeaway: Review your website on a mobile device. An easy way to find out if your website is adequately optimized for mobile use is to try Google’s mobile-friendly test.

Hire a Professional

Configuring and optimizing a website takes time. In the business world, time is money. Hiring a firm experienced in the nuances of the SEO world saves you both time and money on the front end. Professionals have the skills and training to do specific tasks. This gives your employees the ability to concentrate on jobs that they are already trained to do for you.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to go outside your organization for help with SEO. You don’t have to break the bank. There is a wide variety of packages and costs, and there will be something that fits your news.

Conclusion

Whether you are new to the online business game or you have had a website for years, you should periodically review your online presence and make adjustments to maximize site traffic. Above all, the ultimate goal for your online presence should be to maximize your visibility. One way to get there is to improve your SEO rankings. Looking at your website structure and making the changes suggested above can improve your SEO ranking.

Confused about what you’ve read or have no idea how to make changes? PBJ Marketing is here to find strategic guidance and industry insight to work for your organization. We work with a variety of clients from different industries. We use research and user experience to create digital solutions that take your business to the next level.

Our goal is to work side by side with our clients to develop and improve the digital experience. Lean on us to help you improve your SEO rankings. Contact us at (646) 770-3271 or visit our website at https://pbjmarketing.com for more information today.