How to Improve Your Site Structure? with Bobby Kircher @bobbykircher #VCBuzz

How to Improve Your Site Structure? with Bobby Kircher @bobbykircher #VCBuzzYour site needs a structure.

It’s important for both SEO and usability.

Both your users and search crawlers need a clear well-defined site structure to navigate your website and find what they need.

How to troubleshoot and improve your site structure?

Let’s discuss!

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About Bobby Kircher

Bobby Kircher is a digital marketing consultant based in Atlanta, Georgia with nearly 20 years of web experience.

Connect to Bobby via his site and Instagram

Questions we discussed

Q1 How did you become a digital marketer? Please share your career story!

I got my start just over 20 years ago in web design while studying library and information science at Florida State University. After graduation, I was offered a job w/ MCI in Atlanta where I worked on a web development team on an employee-facing website.

While at MCI, I started building websites for small businesses and as an affiliate marketer on the side. That’s when I first learned digital marketing, mainly SEO and SEM. In 2004, I was laid off and my side work became my full-time job & Papaya Internet was born.

It’s hard to believe it was so long ago and the web has changed so much since then! Back then, you sat behind a computer to surf the web. Now you have the Internet in your pocket.

Q2 Why is site structure important?

A good site structure helps visitors find your content easily and search engines understand your content.

For visitors, it helps them navigate to the most important pages to your site. It also helps them understand the services or products you sell.

For search engines, a good site structure helps organize your content in meaningful ways so it helps crawlers understand your content.

Like a library has a structure through the dewy decimal system which helps both the visitor find and the librarian organize books, your website should have a structure for organizing content.

Sure! A “good” structure: How do you want to group your content or products. What is the common thread? If you’re able to have more than one or two, then you’ve got a group that can make for a category page.

It depends! I like to use a category page as a top level, especially for products, but you may also create a piece of pillar content from a page. Using a CMS like WordPress, you can configure it so posts appear under a category in the URL structure.

Q3 How to set up the structure of your site? What’s the ideal site structure?

Visualize your website as a pyramid where your homepage is the top. Next level down is your top level pages. Depending on your website, this may be a blog or product category. Under those categories are your products, pages, or posts — or even subcategories.

How do you know what belongs where? Compile all your pages on your site. Can you group these pages into categories? You can use a graphing tool to visualize how this will look. Then set up your architecture to reflect that.

If you have a large content site like a company website with departments within departments or an e-commerce site with multiple categories, then you may organize the website into subcategories with content falling within it.

But you don’t want to go too deep — the deeper you go, the longer it takes for visitors and crawlers to find your content. Ideally, you don’t want to go more than 4 levels deep.

Q4 How to improve your site internal linking? How to make the most of it?

First, let’s talk about structural links.

Your menu should reflect your site structure. And while it’s tempting to put your sitemap within your navigation, it’s best for visitors and for crawlers to limit your navigation to your most important categories and pages. Many mobile visitors will use a hamburger menu and be discouraged if there are too many options to click.

Breadcrumbs reflect the structure of the site and help visitors find their way within your website.

Taxonomy links like categories, tags, and author help visitors find other related content. Be thoughtful with tags and categories as they can get unwieldy especially with large sites. You may end up with tag pages with one piece of content linked to it.  With large websites, I recommend having a taxonomy strategy.

Contextual internal linking are links found within your content like a blog post or a product page. For example, you may have pillar that covers a topic area that which is broken down into subtopics found on other pages. For a product, you may have links to related products. These internal links help visitors and crawlers find related content. Using good anchor text which describes the content you’re linking to.

I more often than not run across websites that don’t have a separate menu for mobile, but that’s a great tip!

Q5 What are your favorite SEO tools, especially those helping you to analyze and improve your site structure?

Screaming Frog is my goto application for understanding site structure. After a crawl, you can quickly get a visualization of the website structure.  It also features a “Site Structure” tab where you can see the website’s depth and count total in-links for the top 20 pages.

I also like to lay out a structure using an outlining software like OmniOutliner (Mac & iOS)

SEO Chat offers a free tool that helps you create a XML sitemap and an excel export of the site structure.

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