Building good SEO for your website is always going to mean having a good site structure. Much like the practice of a good architect, creating good site structure is all about planning the structure first and building the site second. In order to properly plan and build great websites, it is important to first understand why site structure is so important for your site’s SEO.

1. Encourages customer interaction

When a site is well structured and easy to navigate, customers remain on your pages longer and interact with your site more. According to the Google Patent Application, Google is measuring customer actions on your site in order to determine your site’s relevance.

2. Makes it easy for search engines to index your pages

Good site structure means that search engine spiders will have an easier time indexing the information on your site to display in the search results. This is accomplished by the proper use of meta tags and principles which let the spiders know which of your pages are the most important (we’ll talk about how to do this in a moment).

Helps to focus your website

Good site structure will make the purpose of your site clearer and will help you to achieve it by getting your customers to take the desired actions. In other words, if your site is structured to where it is easy to navigate and if your intentions are clear to the customer, they are more likely to stay on your site and take desired actions.

Basic Principles of good structure 

Keep your pages “light” 

If your pages are weighed down with large graphic files, flash animation, and other types of multimedia, they are going to take a longer time to load. Therefore, use graphics sparingly and go for speed as well as a professional-looking design. Remember that not all of your visitors will have the same connection speed, so you want to make sure that your pages can load quickly for customers using 1 and 2MB speeds as well as the higher speeds. Businesses like Google have found that page loading speed differences can have a large impact on revenue.

Relevant Keywords

Have the main keyword or key phrases for your site which are present on all of your pages. For example, if your site is about dog training then every page should use the key phrase “dog training.” Then you optimize the site one page at a time for key phrases which include your “dog training” key phrase. For example, you optimize your home page for “dog training”, another page for “dog training supplies”, and another page for “dog training resources,” etc. These keywords need to be used in the Meta tags, the image alt tags, the links on your pages, the names of your pages, and in the headings.

The only caveat here would be to make sure that you are keeping your keyword density between one and three percent in order to avoid looking too spammy to the search engines.

It is also crucial that these keyword phrases also be used in the content so that the search engines will know that your site is relevant to your keywords.

Keep Keywords Specific

The more specific that the keywords are on your site, the better chance you have at building value with the search engines. For example, “dogs” is very general and you are going to have a lot harder time standing out than if you were to use something more specific like “dog training videos” or “Dog training obedience schools.” Just make sure that you are optimizing one key phrase per page, instead of attempting to optimize each page for multiple phrases.

Use the Google Keyword tool to select the most specific and relevant keywords and key phrases for your site.  

Hierarchy Within Your Keyword Phrases

As you are placing your keywords in headings, it is important to make sure that you are not “Keyword stuffing” and that you have a little bit of variety. For example, if your site is on “Dog training,” your heading one (h1) might have “Dog Training Academy.” As you move down the headings, you can get more specific while still using the main keyword to optimize the page. For example:

H1: Dog Training Academy

H2: Dog Training for off-leash Obedience (link to another page on your site)

Strong Tags: Dog Training supplies, dog training newsletter, dog training ebooks

These examples would be for a page that is targeted for dog training, the other pages which you are linking to might be: “dog training for off-leash obedience” and “dog training supplies.” On each of these pages, you follow the same pattern with the secondary key phrases. It is important to have a page that is specially optimized for one key phrase and one only.

For example, a page optimized for “dog training” may have the phrase in several contexts: “dog training supplies for aggressive dogs” and “cheap dog training supplies” to optimize that page for the phrase “dog training supplies.”

Hierarchy Within Your Pages

No matter what hierarchy you have planned for your site, the search engines are going to make up their own mind according to how you structure your site. Therefore, if you want your home page to be considered the most relevant page, you have to communicate that to the search engines. The best way to do this is to provide links from the other pages back to your home page.

It is best if these links contain your keyword phrases and if they are present on each page of your site. Once you have enough links back to the home page, you can determine the second most important page by putting the second most amount of links back to that page. This will help the search engines to determine the importance of each one of your pages.

Avoid these mistakes

There are also things that you will want to avoid as you are building your pages. These are things that make it hard for the search engines to index your site and which discourage customer interaction. Some examples are: pop-ups, javascript, excessive flash and background audio files.

Google has stated that they do not do external JavaScript calls which are used often in flash and in pop-ups. Not only that, it is no mystery that the majority of web visitors hate pop-ups and new software is being created all the time to block them.

Create a Sitemap

A site map is something that makes it easier for search engine spiders to crawl your site and index your content. It also helps to convey the structure of your site and the hierarchy of your pages. In the resources below, you will find a link where you can create a free site map simply by entering the URL of your website.

Resources for Further Reading 

One time service to create a free sitemap 

For in depth information on web design and structure for SEO

Information on the Google Patent Application

Forum where online entrepreneurs discuss marketing, SEO, site design and programming: