5 Ways Website Structure Affects SEO
In the quest to optimise website content for SEO, a lot of emphasis is placed around keywords and keyword research. While these are important, often the technical aspects of SEO get left behind as this is not always an easy route to "plan" for non-technical users. But the important factor to be aware of is the technical aspect of your website is what enables your carefully chosen keywords to be found. In short, website structure refers to the things you don't see but make everything else work.
Here's how certain technical aspects of your website affect SEO.
This refers to a search engine's ability to crawl the entire text your website to make sense of what it's about. This means crawling through pages and subpages so it understands the website as a whole. To be considered crawlable, a website must be able to take visitor somewhere else on the same site. But if the crawl robot finds a dead end, this will cause SEO problems as it means your website cannot be understood properly and may not appear where you want it in search results.
What's the fix: Internal links. Give your visitors a way to go from one page to another.
Ease of Navigation and Consistent Structure to Your Site
Visitors should be able to get from one page to another without difficulty. The guideline is generally it should take three clicks to find any given page. People usually link back to old content with internal links, but rarely link old content to new content. However, it's good practice to make sure both pages are linked to one another in this instance.
What's the fix: Every page should have a link to another page and a link from another page.
In this day and age, your user experience (UX) is a 'make or break' element. Users, on average, give a website 15 seconds of attention. If they come across a poor website, there's a high chance this will only be 1 second and they will make an effort to avoid it in the future. But more importantly, a user needs to be able navigate through your website. If they can't find the information they want, they'll simply go elsewhere.
Though the effects of UX on SEO are contested, it is often suggested that click-through rate, time on-site and bounce rate are factors in how Google's algorithm will affect your ranking; but keep in mind there is nothing to prove this. 10 minutes on-site for one website may be in line with the site's objective; for another site this may be a disaster and the fact is Google can't tell the difference.
What's the fix: Make your information easy to find. Your site's navigation should be intuitive.
Google interprets duplicate content as spam, which will have a negative effect on your ranking. However, on some sites duplicate content or very similar content is necessary or common eg forums.
What's the fix: There is a number of ways around this with Google Search Console by directing the crawl robot through your site.
In your URL's you should only be using dashes or underscores, other characters are not recommended. A dash will separate words, an underscore will combine them. The effect of length is not entirely known, but 35-40 characters is generally the guideline to appear in the top results. We're also discussing over on this blog post the effect of keywords in URL's according to google
What’s the fix: Separate multiple words with dashes and make URL's easy to remember. For example, the blog URL for your website should be www.websitename.com/blog
In conclusion; SEO is not hard, and most aspects can be managed by the site owner. But there are certainly some aspects that are more technical than others and require a degree of planning. If the technical side of SEO is not your strong point, we can work with you to complement this side of your SEO. We often assist clients in assessing where the strengths and weaknesses of their SEO to make the right changes.
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