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SEO is one of one of the many subjects that seems fairly easy when you’re new — and then the more you learn about it, the more you understand just how insanely much there is to learn about it. Today, we’re going to get into one of the deeper levels of expert SEO strategy: the science of organizing your content so that it maximizes your SEO without sacrificing anything more valuable like your end user’s experience.
The way that the pages on your website link to each other not only affects which pages get indexed (or de-indexed!) by the bots, but also affect how your individual pages are ranked by the search engines. Let’s talk about how to build an information architecture that search engine bots love.
The Juice Pyramid and the Roots of Relevance
The basic rule is this: your root page (yoursite.com, possibly with /index, /home, or something similar) has the most juice. Every level down from the root page you go, that page has less juice simply because it’s further aware from the root page.
Each page passes juice down to the pages below it, but there’s a catch: the more relevant the page below is to the page above, the more juice gets passed down. So if you have a page about widgets and a page below it about uberwidgets, that’s a highly relevant connection — a second page below widgets that happens to be primarily about conveyor belts (with a paragraph about how widgets work with them) will get a lot less juice from the widget page.
When these two rules combine, what you get is a structure where, ideally, the root page targets a broad, high-traffic keyword, and then each ‘fork’ in the hierarchy subdivides into a longer, more specific, lower-traffic keyword.
“widgets” –> “industrial widgets” –> “high-torque industrial widgets”
–> “high-speed industrial widgets”
–> “municipal widgets” –> “low-decibel municipal widgets”
–> “recyclable widgets for municipal use”
–> “high-efficiency municipal widgets”
…and so on.
The Sitewide Links
In addition to this pyramid/root structure, there should be some pages — the most important ones — that get linked to as part of every single other page’s navigation bar. These pages will get a lot of internal juice simply because of the nav bar, so be sure you use the bar sparingly. That said, the navbar (along with the sitemap page) are vital for helping the bots reach everything, so you do want it to connect to at least all of your main landing pages.