One of the most assertive ways to engage visitors is, in addition to good content, offering a good navigation structure. Establishing a good website structure is a challenge, especially if it is growing. With the high volume of publications it is normal to make some mistakes in the structure of the site.
When I talk about the structure of a website I am referring to all aspects of usability, content organization and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
In this article I am going to share 6 common website structure errors that I find in consultancies and how to avoid them.
- Ideal website structure
- 6 website structure errors
- 1- Hide the main pages
- 2- Do not use breadcrumbs
- 3- Very large categories
- 4- Use too many tags
- 5- Do not create links to your underlying and adjacent pages
- 6- Not having a visible website structure
- Correcting website structure errors
Ideal website structure
The ideal structure of a website resembles a pyramid. At the top we have the home page, just below the main sections or categories, possibly followed by subcategories. At the bottom we will have the individual posts and pages.
To offer a good structure you need to know which are the most important pages on the website. Knowing how users interact with them is essential to structure content and navigation.
6 website structure errors
1- Hide the main pages
This is a very common mistake: hiding the main pages of the website. We call the main pages of the site anchor content or structural content. These pages are the foundation, the foundation of your website. These are the pages that you are proud of and that reflect your business.
Anchor pages are the ones that should receive the most links from other pages on your site.
Pages that do not receive any or few internal links will have more difficulty to be ranked in search engines. An article with fewer links pointing to it will be considered less important.
Solution: create links to your structural content
Make sure to link your articles to your main pages.
Structural content can be product category pages (in the case of an e-commerce), a service page (on an institutional website) or a category page or a reference post (in the case of a blog).
All content related to your main pages must contain links to them.
Make these important pages easier to find within the site. They should be accessible in a click or two from the home page.
2- Do not use breadcrumbs
Although important for the user experience, many sites do not use navigation trails. In desktop versions with a good menu, this error may even be missed (not by the search engine) but on mobile devices the absence of navigation trails can impair navigation.
In addition to helping users, navigation trails help search engines to identify the structure of the site. This is even more evident when we use structured data marking on the navigation trail.
Solution: add navigation trails to the site
There are several ways for you to add breadcrumbs to your website pages. If the site is made in WordPress, many themes and plugins offer this functionality.
Navigation trails do not necessarily have to be at the beginning of the post / page.
On this site, for example, I use the end of the content, as a way to guide navigation after reading.
Read too: "The Ultimate Guide to WordPress SEO“
3- Very large categories
As a rule, the categories on your site should have relatively the same volume of publications. Often sites start writing a lot about a certain topic, leaving others aside. The result of this is that one category ends up growing much more than the others.
If that happen, your site will become unbalanced. In addition, you may find it difficult to position some content in searches if they are part of a very large category.
Solution: divided and balanced categories
When you notice that a category is getting too big, consider breaking it into two or more categories. If there is still a very big imbalance, rethink your core business and make sure you are writing according to your company's mission.
Read too: "Less content = more conversion“
4- Use too many tags
Wow! This could go in the most requested. Virtually 100% from companies that come to me for a consulting have structural problems because they use too many tags on their sites. It is not uncommon for sites with 20, 30 and even 40,000 tags. That's right, you didn't read it wrong. Many websites create tags for just one or two articles.
The tags must serve the structure of the site (to users), grouping similar content. What we see are totally generic tags (car, bus, shirt, man, woman), with singular and plural (fire and fires, accident and accidents, cell and cell phones) or meaningless (1 year, 10 years, 10 tips) .
The tags must bring context, be important to the visitor. So think about the tags you create and make sure that more than one of your current (or future) posts will be related to this tag. My suggestion is for each tag to have at least 10 to 20 linked articles (of course it varies for each site).
Solution: Use tags sparingly
This structural error can be easily corrected. Make sure to use tags on more than one content and that grouping makes sense. Use relevant tags and not just generic terms that don’t add anything to your content.
Make sure your visitors can find the tags easily, preferably at the back of your article. The tags are useful to visitors and not just the search engine.
Read too: "Using tags to organize your site“
5- Do not create links to your underlying and adjacent pages
A clean menu that directs visitors to your main pages is an excellent starting point for the user experience. However, it can create a problem by not being able to show users all existing pages. Here comes the structure of internal link. Make sure to connect your main pages to the underlying pages and vice versa.
Your menu does not need to lead to all pages and sections of the website. There are other ways to do this.
Solution: create links to underlying and adjacent pages
Strengthen the link between pages of similar topics (adjacent) and structural content for the underlying pages. Articles that are part of the same tag or category must be linked together.
This internal link structure helps search engines better understand your site and also improves the visitors' experience.
Read too: "10 SEO Tools Every Website Should Use“
6- Not having a visible website structure
Finally, not having a visible structure can be a big mistake. Visitors want to be able to find things on your website with ease. The main categories of your blog should have a prominent place in the main menu.
But don't create too many categories or your menu will be disorganized. A menu should give a clear overview and reflect the structure of your website. Ideally, it helps visitors understand how your site is structured.
Solution: optimize your menu and think about the user experience
Creating a clear view of your website can begin by optimizing the menu. Each site is different but keep in mind which pages you want to stand out and don't add too many others.
Use stylized menus as mega menus when convenient.
Be sure to think about what your visitors are looking for and how you can help them with that. Thinking about UX, creating a structure for a website will be easier.
Correcting website structure errors
The website structure is an essential aspect in its optimization for searches (and for the user). The structure shows Google which articles and pages are most important.
Especially when you are producing a lot of content it is important to keep an eye on the structure and any errors or problems that may arise.
Time needed to optimize the structure of a website: approx. 20 hours.
How to maintain the proper website structure:
- Highlight your top pages
Do not hide your anchor pages or structural content. Highlight them in the menu and create links to these pages.
- Use breadcrumb trails
Add navigation trails to your pages. Especially in navigation via mobile devices, the navigation trails are a good resource for the user and search engine.
- Be careful with the size of the categories
Try to keep your categories with similar volumes of published articles. Very large categories cause an imbalance in the structure of a website and can make it difficult to rank content in searches.
- Use tags concisely
Use tags that bring context and relevance to the user. Avoid creating “common” or tags that will not be linked to a minimum volume of publications.
- Optimize your internal links
Create links between content that talks about the same topic. In addition, create links to the underlying pages while remembering to maintain the relevance of the links to the anchor pages.
- Have a visible site structure
Use visual and interface elements, such as the menu, to present the structure of your website to the visitor. Emphasize the most important areas and pages and create a clear view of the user's site structure.
Did you have any questions or need help to improve the structure of your site? Contact!