What is a house without a solid structure? Well, it would probably tumble down with the first storm. The same applies to WordPress websites too, especially if you want to establish your business on Google. Just as you would build your house, you must build your WordPress website from the ground up.
WordPress is the best CMS on the marketplace when it comes to SEO. Optimizing your website structure will help you enhance your search rankings, get more customers for your business, and have a better website overall.
There will be all sorts of obstacles to fight off and foundations that you need to build on, and the better your WordPress structure is, the higher are your chances for better search rankings. You either have an organized structure or just a collection of pages. But if you’re really methodical with it, bringing good SEO results to the table is inevitable.
Having a well-structured website is vital from both usability and findability standpoint. The site’s structure matters not only for search engines but also for the users that perform the search queries. They need the structure to better navigate on your website and to pick where they want to click when they want to enter another page.
In this post, we’ll share some tips that can help you create a sturdy WordPress site structure that can enhance your SEO and improve the experience of your web visitors.
Why WordPress Website Structure Matters?
There are still lots of WordPress sites out there that haven’t implemented the proper structure that can guide the users through their website. If users don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll close the tab and turn to your competitors.
Your website structure is fundamental to your search engine rankings as well. Google can “crawl” your site much easier, and this helps the search engine to discover where your most important content resides, and how quickly that content can be delivered in the search results.
A good website structure also cracks open your sitelinks on Google Search, and they’re something of a big deal when it comes to SEO.
They immediately increase your site’s navigability, add to your brand reputation, and instantly increase user’s trust in your business. Sitelinks are earned, so if you have poor site structure it’s unlikely that Google will award them to you.
Prepare the Groundwork
First and foremost, you must pick “where” you’re going to build your website, aka, where are you going to host your website. If you want a solid structure, you must pick a good hosting service that will support it.
A managed hosting service supervises and maintains your site structure, as well as the other technical aspects of your WordPress site.
The number of websites that turn to managed has grown massively in the last 8-9 years, and along with WordPress as CMS, it is the main formula that businesses today use to manage their content. The main benefits of using a managed hosting are:
- Better Website Security: A managed hosting provider offers you the highest degree of website security packages, regular backups, malware scanning, and frequent updates that shield your site from hackers.
- Controlling Uptime: A reliable managed hosting provider will control your website’s uptime 24/7, so you don’t have to worry about the site’s stability in high traffic spikes.
- 24/7 Support: Providing you with a team of technical WordPress and hosting experts that know how to handle every issue that comes their way.
- Customizable Solutions: Managed hosting packages are adapted to your business goals, which is not the case for shared hosting provides.
When it comes to a managed hosting solution for your WordPress website that offers you the characteristics above plus much more, there’s no better in the marketplace than Pagely.
Their enterprise hosting platform offers you a scalable solution with multi-region redundancy and enterprise grade-security.
Have a Goal-Oriented Planning Process
When you plan your WordPress structure for SEO, the key is in defining the user’s goals. Who are your target users? What do they want to find, and what do they expect to see when they’ll open your website?
You need to think about your goals as well – why do you want to develop your WordPress website? What do you want to achieve with it – inform people, sell products, have an industry-related blog, what do you want to do with it?
The answers to these questions represent the foundation of your website. It’s simply not feasible to continue with the development plan if you can’t define what the goals are. The structure of your site will be a mirror image of your website goals.
Start with a Hierarchy
Just like in architecture, before you start building something, you need a plan. In WordPress, you need to plan your website for the best possible search engine optimization. You need a hierarchy!
Use a whiteboard or a spreadsheet and develop a pyramid of your pages. On top of your pyramid is, of course, the homepage. Below the homepage, there are your category pages. If your site is big enough, you’ll also want to include taxonomies and custom taxonomies.
There are some attributes that you need to keep an eye on when you approach the hierarchy of your WordPress site:
- Logic: Don’t overanalyze things. Keep it simple, it’s better for users and for search engine crawlers.
- Fewer Categories: Unless you’re Alibaba or Amazon, you don’t need more than ten categories.
- Balanced Subcategories: Keep the number of categories and subcategories approximately even.
Permalink Structure That Follows Your Hierarchy
After planning your hierarchy, the first thing that you need to optimize is your permalink (URL) structure. Your permalink settings can be found in Settings -> Permalinks.
The default WordPress permalink structure is the following:
It will display each URL with numbers at the end, which is terrible from an SEO standpoint. You need real words, not numbers.
This is why you must change the permalink structure to something better, something that will have a positive impact on your search rankings. The ideal URL structure should look like the following:
Or, you can select a “Custom structure” that will include the category and your post.
When you publish your posts, make sure that you don’t include any stop words in your URL-s, such as “a,” “and,” “the,” etc. Removing them makes the permalinks easier to read, especially if you have a longer blog post title.
Categorize Your Pages Accordingly
A WordPress category lets you group pages and posts together. When you write a post, you have the option to categorize it in one or more categories.
A category allows Google to identify what your blog is about, and the readers to find the right type of content on your site. Categories are hierarchical, which means that you can add subcategories that are associated with the primary category.
When you develop your categories and your content, you need to make sure that each category is approximately the same size as the rest. If you have a broad category, you need to divide it into at least two categories to make navigation and crawling easier. To avoid duplicate content, each of your categories and posts needs to have a unique title and description.
For example, if you have an online apparel shop and a category page “Tracksuits,” you wouldn’t want to name and optimize each product page as “Tracksuit.” Instead, you’ll make each product page distinctive with a unique name and description, and place it in the “Tracksuits” category, to stop individual pages from competing against each other.
Arranging your menus is the best way to keep your page categorization in place. Having a bad menu is not helpful for the users and additionally, leads to a high bounce rate (the percentage of visitors that leave your site after viewing just one page).
Make sure that you have pages such as “About”, “Services”, “Blog”, and “Contact” on your main menu. But remember that an excellent primary menu is concise, it represents your entire site, and it’s intuitive.
Internal Links That Follow Your Hierarchy
Your site’s internal linking is vital if you want to make Google’s job of understanding your website more manageable. The more internal links a page or a post gets, the more priority it gets from search engines.
Your homepage as the page that is at the top of your hierarchy needs subpages, and those subpages need their subpages as well. Each of these pages needs to lead back to the previous one, and so on.
When it comes to content, at the top of your hierarchy should be the cornerstone content that links to most of your posts. Linking pages that are connected in terms of content and context create better chances of a good search engine ranking for your page because the search engines can assess your pillar pages and what is the related content that they can display. The more internal links your WordPress website has, the better.
Add Taxonomies and Tags
WordPress provides you with tags and taxonomies that are the mechanisms to help you group your content. If your content is well organized, users can find it easier and share it, and Google will understand the content much better.
According to the WordPress Codex, a Taxonomy is defined as:
“Taxonomy is a way to group things together.”
The following are the WordPress built-in taxonomies:
- Categories: Allows you to group your content under a joint category: videos, photos, or posts.
- Tags: Help you organize your content, but without the detailed structure of Categories.
- Link Category: Internal taxonomies that ordinarily are not visible publicly on your site.
- Post Formats: A meta info that allows you to adjust a theme or a post. It is a potent feature in the WordPress development arsenal.
- Custom Taxonomies: From WordPress 2.3 and on, you’re able to create custom taxonomies. But, before the 2.9 version, they were occasionally-used feature. Now, they are another excellent way to group your content.
Categories are hierarchical, and that’s why subcategories exist. However, there is no hierarchy used in tags. They are only used for content indexing. The readers can notice the tags by placing them at the bottom of your article or in the sidebar.
In essence, if you have a broad topic that you want to display on your WordPress site, you’ll use categories. For a more detailed approach, you should use tags as well. The category taxonomy is obligatory. Without one, WordPress will append the default category “Uncategorized” to your posts.
Add an XML Sitemap
After you’ve finished with your site structure, as a finishing touch, you need to reaffirm your WordPress website by creating and submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console.
Your sitemap is a diagram that outlines your page hierarchy. Every page is defined and organized in the sitemap, from the general pages to the more specific ones. It’s a map that helps Google crawl your content.
If you don’t have a sitemap, a lot of relevant pages from your site cannot be indexed appropriately. If you have fresh blog posts but not enough backlinks that lead to them, a sitemap can help search engines to find those posts a lot faster.
The easiest way to create a sitemap for your WordPress website is to use WordPress SEO by Yoast.
Bonus: Have a Siloed Content Strategy
Siloing is a method that you can use to organize the related content on your WordPress website. A well-organized silo content structure can help users navigate your site much easier and find the content that they’re looking for.
A silo structure for your content also reduces the Google Sandbox time that your website undergoes after launching.
By having relevant blog posts and topics structured in a silo, you also help Google access your topic relevance and positively increases your content semantics.
Before you implement your content silo, you need to map it out. If you already have your keywords and topics ready and you know what type of content you’ll produce, you can use a mind map and create a plan.
Next, start writing and creating the pillar articles for your categories. We’re talking about epic blog posts that may reach well over 5000-6000 words. Use beautiful imagery, screenshots where needed, and, most importantly, LSI keywords.
Only when you’re done with creating your pillar articles, then you can start with the supporting posts. Create only posts that are relevant to the pillar articles.
After you create at least four quality supporting posts, put them together with the pillar article in a relevant category, and place them together with interlinks between them.
A silo structure with quality content is a guarantee that the SEO of your WordPress website will gain a significant boost.
There are lots of factors that you need to consider when it comes to SEO, and website structure is one of them. The best WordPress websites have their structure defined before the development process takes place.
If you follow the steps above, your WordPress site will be organized in a way that is understandable for both search engines and users. And as a result, your site will be ranked higher and your business growth will follow.