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Website Structure Best Practices

disorganized stack of paper

Firstly, we’re going to go over the website structure best practices of 2021. Then we’re going to go over how that relates to other things, like your search engine rankings. Finally, we’ll go over how to fix an out-of-whack structure properly.

When starting off with your website structure, you need to think about 2 main things:

  1. Your Audience
  2. What You’re Selling

Get into your audience’s shoes for how they would navigate around your site. In order not to overload the customer with everything in your menu, it’s good to focus on exactly what you are selling to them then break it down into consumable bites.

Take Amazon for example. They sell a ton of goods from software to products. If you look at their main page (at the time of this writing), they’ll bring you to a section of the website, then serve up other sections. If they threw every single page and product that they offered up on the menu or on the home page, it would probably knock you out.

Think about the structure from the top down. Put the main topics that you are trying to sell on top of the pyramid. Kind of like the sweets in the food chart. Then let the supporting topics fall underneath them. The supporting topics, literally support the main topic in a physical sense. Let’s take chocolate for example and pretend I’m a chocolate maker.

My original structure looks like this:

  • Milk chocolate bar with almonds
  • Milk chocolate in egg shapes
  • Dark chocolate in egg shapes
  • Milk chocolate balls
  • Dark chocolate with wine flavor
  • Milk chocolate in brussel shapes
  • Dark chocolate with cashews
  • Milk chocolate in danishes
  • Dark chocolate balls
  • Dark chocolate bar with almonds

By putting everything on the same “level” we are saying that everything on our website is important. This is also saying that nothing is important. The first thing that I’m going to look at with the product offerings is the consistency in products to better organize The thing that I see in common is the 2 different types of chocolate Milk and Dark. So I will start organizing by that.

Website structure better practice

Milk Chocolate

  • With Almonds
  • Balls
  • Bars
  • Eggs
  • Danishes
  • Brussels

Dark Chocolate

  • With Almonds
  • With Cashews
  • Balls
  • Bars
  • Eggs
  • Wine

This gives us a great original structure for the website with categories and products that exist within the categories that share similarities. For a search engine, this is a great organization and will make it easy to crawl. We’re are telling Google that Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate are our two main themes for the website. Now it’s time to start thinking about adding a menu to the site and organizing for our customers. Chocolate bars are my best-selling product, so I’ll also want to include that into the structure of the site.

Website structure best practice

Milk Chocolate

  • With Almonds
  • Balls
  • Bars
  • Eggs
  • Danishes
  • Brussels

Dark Chocolate

  • With Almonds
  • With Cashews
  • Balls
  • Bars
  • Eggs
  • Wine

Chocolate Bars

  • Dark chocolate with almonds
  • Milk chocolate with almonds

We have 12 product offerings under 2 larger categories. Instead of putting everything on the top menu, I would rather just put Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate as 2 main menu items as well as Chocolate Bars as a 3rd menu item. This gives strength to these 3 keywords and organizes the site by my customer’s preferred taste. Once they click on one of the 3 options, then you can give them 6 options that you know work for them. The idea is to try to keep the product offerings from getting out of hand all on one page, without sacrificing your depth of product offerings. This is what it would look like on the top menu after optimization:

Milk Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate Bars

Remember, this is just the menu, not the actual structure that we’re serving to Google in the sitemap.

We’re trying to create the best experience for the customer, but we also want to balance what we’re showing on the landing page. Your home page with every product offering is overwhelming to a customer, but breaking it up we will help make the product offering more specific for the customer. While adding more products to the website, you can fit them in until they need to break apart into more manageable bites.

As we begin to add more products, we’ll keep the initial structure in mind and identify any opportunities. If we find that Milk Chocolate Danishes are starting to rank and your customers are finding this item irresistible, then we can use that market research to add it to the top menu. From there we would want to make sure it is a well-rounded category by adding more products and more information to that landing page.

By keeping people from over-jumping our major landing pages we have better control over the sales funnel. We want people to go to one of our 4 major categories as the landing page for our content then steer them in the direction we want them to go. If someone jumps over to a product page and bypasses our landing page, then we are missing opportunities for cross-sells.

We also want people to land on a product page, not just the top 4 major categories. By ranking for product pages we narrow the product offering to exactly what the customer is searching for, so be specific in what your product is. The menu on the top for the 4 categories will still be there, even on the product page. If the customer lands on the product page, they’ll still have an opportunity to back up and enter the funnel if this isn’t the product they were searching for.

Read up more about the internal linking structure from MOZ and SEMrush . These companies are major contributors to the SEO industry.

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