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.
Why WordPress Website Structure Matters?
First of all, Usability. There are still lots of WordPress sites out there that still 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 extremely important 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.
Now, 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.
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 risen over 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 provider applies the highest level of security, daily backups, malware scanning, and updates that prevent hackers from attacking your site.
- Monitoring Uptime: Speed and performance have a direct impact on search rankings. Most of the managed hosting providers offer 24/7 website monitoring, which means that you don’t have to dwell on whether your website performs at any given moment.
- 24/7 Support: Managed hosting providers have trained experts that understand the technical details of the platform, and know how to solve common and complex problems.
- Customizable Solutions: The solution is adapted to your business needs, instead of the other way around.
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 is the target user? What does he/she search for, and what does the user expect to see when he/she lands on 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.
When you know yours and the users’ you need to define the requirements that you’ll need to create a functional website structure. You need to lay out everything, from the number of pages and their goals to the designs that will support the content that will be placed in those pages.
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. Be 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 10 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 page doesn’t have this option as a default. A category is beneficial to the user because it helps them to find what they’re looking for faster and easier. A category helps Google 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 main 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 large 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 a good primary menu is:
- Represents your entire site
- Intuitive to use
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 much easier. 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 with each other in terms of content and context create better chances of good search engine ranking for your page because search engines can assess your pillar pages and what is the related content that they can display.
Internal linking shouldn’t be complicated, and the main purpose should be to direct search engines to the important pages. 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.
The WordPress Codex defines Taxonomy as:
“Taxonomy is a way to group things together.”
The following are taxonomies that are built-in the CMS:
- Categories: A taxonomy that lets you group your content under a common category: videos, photos, or just posts. You can have parent-child hierarchical relationships for the main categories and their subcategories.
- Tags: Allow you to classify your content, but in a less structured way than Categories. Tags can’t have parents.
- Link Category: Used to group your links. These are internal taxonomies that usually are not displayed publicly on your site. Not quite popular with the latest version of WordPress.
- Post Formats: A meta info that can be used to customize a theme or a post. Also, a powerful tool in the arsenal of WordPress developers.
- Custom Taxonomies: Since WordPress 2.3, you can create your own custom taxonomies, but until Version 2.9, they were a rarely used feature. In essence, they are an extremely powerful way to group various items in all sorts of ways.
So, categories are hierarchical and you can have subcategories, and tags can’t have any hierarchy. Tags are just the indexation of the content that is put in the categories. You can use more tags for one post.
Make sure that each of your tags is used frequently, especially if more posts have a similar context. Allow the readers to see the tags too by placing them at the bottom of the article or at the sidebar.
In essence, if you have a broad topic that you want to display on your WordPress site, you’ll use categories. If you want to get specific, you’ll insert tags too. For your posts, a category taxonomy is mandatory. Without a category, WordPress will add a default category, in most cases, “Uncategorized.” Just like with tags, you can also use multiple categories for a given post.
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 important pages from your site cannot be indexed properly. If your blog is relatively new and you don’t have a lot of backlinks that lead to your posts, by having a sitemap you help search engines discover those posts much easier.
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 4 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.