If you care about Search and Search Engines, your website should be designed with this in mind. The layout of the site architecture (often referred to as Information Architecture), is key from a SEO perspective. It is a crucial component in achieving high organic Search Engine Optimization rankings. And… this process should be ideally addressed during the build of a new website. Structural changes to a site post launch can be, in some cases, very complex and costly.

What is Site Architecture?

A site architecture in the most basic sense, is the layout of your web pages. This design will impact how web visitors interact with your website as well as the Search Engines. The key web pages, those with the most relevant content, should be easily accessed. In terms of Search Engines, a site architecture can help with crawlability and indexation. This will play an important role in terms of the number of pages in the Search Engines’ web index. As a result, it will impact the volume of web traffic to your site that is generated by the Search Engines.

What does a bad site architecture look like?


This is an example of a deep site architecture

Note: The number of clicks required between the home page and the deepest layer of web content. Page authority starts at the root and decreases each level down. Generally this linking structure results in low indexation and poor long tail search results.

What does a great site architecture look like?

This is an example of a flat site architecture (or semi-flat site architecture).

Note: This layout will benefit from link juice from the Search Engines. It also helps improve the page rank algorithms and inbound links to key pages.

And it is important not just for SEO, but also for web visitors in terms of usability and user experience. Always remember it is the web visitor that converts not the engines.

It likely goes without saying, but this architecture type is easier to accomplish for small websites. However for large or ecommerce sites it is even more important.

What impact do major changes have on an existing site architecture?

If your website was built without SEO considerations, you may require major changes to the architecture and content structure. This can cause a temporary drop in rankings. Making these changes gradually will limit the overall impact to your Search Engine rankings.

Check out your site architecture from a top down perspective. Does your website have few click levels? In other words, is it a SEO friendly architecture?

3 Responses to SEO and Site Architecture: Why is it important?

  1. Helen, I couldn’t agree more – a good information / site architecture is a critical first step in a web design/redesign project and can impact SEO in many ways including URL naming convention (for placing keywords in URLs), navigation structure (ensuring correct linking / pagerank flow and link anchor text labeling), and even the relative positioning of links on each individual page.

    I’m curious, what is your take on the number of levels/directory structure in a URL? (i.e. not the linking/nav structure, but the directory structure)? I have never been able to find an authoritative answer to that question.

    • Helen says:

      Hi John,

      Great question! For large and very complex sites, Rand Fishkin at SEOMoz is an expert (in my opinion).

      Helen

  2. [...] “White Hat” SEO strategies that can be implemented. They include helping out with the initial site architecture, URL structure, making sure the website is crawlable, finding the right keywords, ensuring fast [...]

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