The structure of a website is extremely important to visitors as well as the search engines. Human visitors really hate websites in which they struggle to find their way around it or just can’t easily find what they are looking for. Some local authority websites are like that but they are getting better.
You should always aim for a well though out and clearly structured website. You can achieve this through clear and intuitive navigation.
How do you do this? The “Silo” approach?
When designing the website you should really think about it first and draft it out on paper. It’s an old fashioned method but it helps get the thinking right. If you want to you can do it on the computer. This also reduces the endless redrafting on paper.
As you decide what you are going to have in your website, try and adopt the “Silo” approach. This method is really common sense but this strategy groups content on similar topic in the same section of the website. This helps search engines find their way around your website and so index it better.
For example in our website we have an area for articles. Within this area there are sections for articles on topics including web design, mobile website design, search engine optimization and others. We have grouped all similar content in these sections or “silos”.
Using this approach the structure of our website would be like this:
You can help things more by adding a home page for each section or “silo” and you can link back to this home page from each article or page in that section. You can do this by adding “bread crumb” navigation links.
This is one of the most over looked parts of SEO. It helps the search engines find their way around your website and getting to all the areas your want them to find. It helps your visitors tremendously by allowing them to find related content with your website.
If we return to the example of our website, we have all our articles within their sections or “silos”. At the bottom of each page we have links to similar content within that section.
For example, one article on mobile web design has links to all the other articles about this topic. These are specific links to that section only and don’t link to all the other articles in the website. See below
Article- Topic Name
Topic Name 2
Topic Name 3
To help internal linking even more you should have a HTML site map in your website and have a link to this in you navigation. It have be over kill but if this link is easy to find then visitors can use it to find their way if they do get lost. You can also submit the sitemap in an XML format to the search engines to keep them updated with the latest routes around your website. There are many free online site map makers that can crawl all over your website to create your XML sitemap for you.
Nothing will defeat your linking plan more than that annoying broken link. You must seek and destroy all broken links. As with online sitemap makers, there are also free broken link checkers. You should use these in addition to checking links yourself before you publish your website. A good rule of thumb is to check links after each update you make and especially after a major update.