How to Build a Site Structure for SEO

December 28, 2020

In our previous blog we have discussed about importance of site structure for SEO, let’s see how you can build an effective site structure for SEO.

How to describe a framework for the site that works

Ready to design a site layout that fits well for both your search engines and your users? To describe your website structure, here’s a step-by-step guide:

Topic and Keyword Research

It all begins with the analysis of topical keywords.

After all, you need to know the topics you’re going to target and the primary keywords inside these topics that you’re trying to rank for to prepare a structure that works.

Plan Your Site Structure and Hierarchy

The secret to success is designing your site layout. Defining your subject clusters, deciding your pillar page for each cluster, and then extending it to plan the supporting content makes sense.

The top-level content pages that cover the wider subject are your foundations. You should understand how you can cover a broader subject at a broad level inside the page while preparing your pillar sections. This leaves an opening inside the related cluster to build on the details.

Think of these as more in-depth pages that address particular questions about the wider topic. These pages can then be linked back to the main pillar page, which helps to build a strong understanding of how the material is linked.

At this point, it helps to visually map out the layout of your site to help you see how subject clusters work together and where specific pages and posts should go.

For this, you can use a free platform like Gloomaps.

site-map

Once you have mapped out the layout of your web, as you create content and continue to expand, this can be a great reference point.

Consider Your Site’s URLs

In an ideal world, the layout of your site will locate cluster content within the same subdirectory as the pillar of that subject.

Let’s claim xyz.com/pillar/. is the pillar tab. That would mean that all of the content of your cluster sits on URLs such as xyz.com/pillar/cluster-page-1/.

This is referred to as URL silos and helps to retain topical relevance within the subdirectory of a domain, and it makes sense to arrange your site in this way wherever possible.

This is not the only technique, however. If you can’t group all of your cluster content within the subdirectory of the pillar page, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use this site structuring process.

Siloing URLs help to preserve topical relevance inside folders; however, you can use internal links to display the topical relation between pages if this can not be done due to technical restrictions.

Soon we’ll touch on internal linking.

Design The Site’s Navigation Menus carefully

Though there are mainly navigation menus to help the users locate the pages they are searching for, they are a great indicator of the most relevant pages.

And the way you organize your navigation menus, you need to think carefully.

Take a look at the main navigation of these two sites in the same industry as an example:

navigation-bar

better-navigation-bar

Here’s a perfect illustration of the significance of getting navigation correct. The second image clearly allows users to access the correct items as quickly as possible, while the first image does not go further than the generic categories of the top level.

Think carefully about how your navigation menus are organized and use them as an opportunity to position your key pages in front of your users.

Consider the Depth of Your Site’s Key Pages

For both search engines and users, a great site layout should make it easy to find the content of your site, and that means that pages should not be hidden deep inside your site.

Usually, it is presumed that all pages should be accessible from the homepage of your site within three clicks, and structuring will make this possible in the right way.

Using breadcrumbs and internal linking will help ensure that pages are not deeply hidden in your web, but visualizing your layout can help maintain content within these three levels when preparing.

This means that there are no orphan pages on your web, which are when a page is not connected to from somewhere within the framework of your site. In essence, it is not available from anywhere within a website and only from a direct connection.

You may use the SEMrush Web Audit Tool to discover pages that require more than 3 clicks to access or are orphaned on an existing site.

audit-tool

Find and Fix Keyword Cannibalization Issues

Reworking the layout of an existing platform is the ideal opportunity to discover and address problems with keyword cannibalization. Our guide to this describes the cannibalization of keywords as:

Far too often, cannibalization of keywords is defined as something that happens when you have more than one page on your website targeting the same keyword, one page cannibalizing the ability of the other to rank and neither perform as well as they could. Cannibalization of keywords is all about intent and you have a problem when there are several pages targeting the same intent.

When it comes to planning your structure on a new site, understanding the concept of one page to target a specific intent of a keyword can help you to prevent issues from happening.

Use Internal Linking Strategically

Internal links are crucial to designing an efficient site layout, and they are links that point from one page to another on your site if you’re not familiar with them.

And one of the main advantages of internal links is that they help search engines understand the layout of your site (and the topical relation between pages), transfer the authority on links, and help users navigate between pages,

Using many different methods, you can communicate internally, including:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Contextual internal links
  • Navigation links

Create an HTML Sitemap

Consider creating an HTML sitemap as a final step to putting together a good site layout.

These are user-visible sitemaps while also serving a list of URL links that can be crawled by search engines, minimizing further the risk of orphan pages and enabling rapid discovery of new pages.

Don’t forget that PageRank (link authority) is also distributed through HTML sitemaps and is advised to be in place.


Don’t underestimate the significance of getting the layout of your site correct and the effect it can have on your SEO results.

Take the time to design a system that works and organize the pages by topics for both users and search engines, efficiently delegate link authority and help people get to the pages they want to browse as easily as possible.