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Can the Structure of Your Site Affect SEO?

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Site StructureEver since the recent Google Panda updates were released, on-site SEO has become even more important when it comes to staying on top of the SEO game. Small mistakes that could be overlooked by simply doing a bit of off-site optimization have now become critical reasons for rank drops.

The real problem that a number of websites have is in their structure. Their url format, their site navigation and, arguably most importantly, their internal linking structure all leave something to be desired. Today, you’ll learn the best practices for site structure and hopefully be on your way to making your website’s SEO better.

Format

Many websites have URLs that are subpar. They don’t tell search engines anything about the content listed on there, nor do they have a set of keywords in the URL. It doesn’t matter if you have a plain HTML website, a CMS or a blog that runs WordPress. Your pages should each have their purpose in their URL.

There are two important things to note. One is that you should replace spaces with dashes, not underscores. The latter can cause issues with search engines pushing words together for the wrong keywords. The second is that you can go back and fix your URL structures regardless of how established your website is. Just make sure to put a 301 redirect for any page you change in your .htaccess file.

Site Navigation

There are two big mistakes that get made when it comes to website navigation. The first is that websites use JavaScript and Flash menus. The second is that websites use ‘deep’ navigation structure. Spiders have trouble crawling JavaScript and Flash links. Some can do it, but the vast majority will instead choose to ignore them all together.

The best alternative is to opt for XHTML and CSS menus. If you have to use images for your menus, then make sure you optimize the file names and make proper use of the alt and title attributes.

The other major problem is deep navigational structures. This refers to how many clicks it takes to get to your website’s deepest content. If you have to go through too many clicks, then there’s a chance that search engines will ignore and eventually stop indexing your content as frequently. The best practice to fix this is to make your website’s structure shallow. According to some search engine optimization experts, it should only take a maximum of three to four clicks to get from your website’s homepage to your deepest content.

An added bonus of a shallow structure is that it increases your website’s user friendliness, which can decrease your website’s bounce rate and increase your SEO rankings.

Sothink DHTML Menu is one tool that can be used to organize menus and create a shallow structure.

Internal Link Structures

This is one often neglected element that is absolutely vital to on-site SEO success in a world where semantic searches will become more commonplace than they already are.

Internal links used keyword-rich places within your text content to link to other relevant pages in your website. This allows search engines to quickly and easily figure out what your other pages are about. They can also be used to decrease page depth and make it easier for users to find related content.

The reason that internal links are so important is because of the increasing value search engines are putting on them. Some SEO experts have gone so far to say that semantic web searches could one day completely eliminate the need for off-site optimization, though this isn’t quite the case just yet.

Author

Lyndsi Decker is a freelance writer that is currently promoting utah seo. When not blogging about tech and SEO she can be found training for marathons.

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  • Google has cut its own throat with the updates as we are one of the lowest prices on line for packaging supplies. It would be imposible to guess what Google will do next and with over 20,000 pages we could not afford to change anything. Our customers want to save money not pay more so Google is happy after all no one knows what Google will do or want next.

    • Good point Bob. Re-engineering large existing sites does pose its own challenges. For businesses whose customers primarily use organic search to find them though, staying in step with Google’s algorithmic adjustments is very important. If that just isn’t feasible, PPC may be a good option.

  • Chris, Great article – thank you!
    …bob

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  • Yes the structure of your web site can affect see. You have to create proper navigation bar, and don’t use same color for you site background and text color, keep your HTML code simple and easy to be read by crawler and you can also use an XML sitemap for crawler and HTML sitemap for user to know about web site.