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Expert SEO Technique: Site Structure

When you start delving deeply enough into SEO that you start thinking about your site’s structure as an SEO element, you know you’re getting to the highest expert SEO levels.  So, let’s do it!

Step 1: Plan Out Your Hierarchy

The ideal site hierarchy looks like an upside-down family tree where each child can have 2-9 parents. Your site hierarchy will also define your navigational breadcrumbs and your URL structure, so think it through carefully. The keys to a great hierarchy are that it is:

  • Intuitive: The average Joe end-user needs to be able to guess what your hierarchy looks like without having much experience with your site.
  • Shallow: Every single ‘major’ function of your website needs to be an absolute maximum of two clicks away from the front page; every ‘minor’ function, no more than three.

Step 2: Create Your URL Tree

Once you know what the hierarchy is going to look like, you need to set up your URLs so that each one of them is just as intuitive and easily-to-read as your hierarchy diagram. Let’s say your hierarchy looks like this:

  • Mike’s Copywriting
    • About
    • Services
      • Blog Posts
      • In-Depth Articles
      • E-Books
      • White Papers
    • Why Use Us?
      • Testimonials
      • Reviews
      • Portfolio
        • Project A
        • Project B
        • Etc.
    • Pricing

Well, you should be able to take one glance at the URL and know exactly where you are and what pages came before this one. For example, if you look at the URL and see http://mikescopywriting/whyus/reviews, you’ve succeeded.  If you look at the URL and see http://mikescopywriting/p=203, you failed.

Step 3: Make Your Two Navigation Panels

One navigation panel should show all of your one-click-down pages. In the above  example, it would show About, Services, Why Us, Pricing, and it would always be there, waiting for you to click over to any of the other second-level pages no matter where on the site you were.

The second should show the ‘breadcrumb trail’ that shows the relationship between your current page and the homepage. So if you were on the Project B page, the ‘breadcrumb’ panel would show Home — Why Us — Portfolio — Project B, and each of those items would click through to the named page.

Finally, slap a sitemap into your footer accessible from (and accessing) every single page on your site, and you’ve done all you can to optimize your SEO by (ab)using your site structure.

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