If you want to rank highly and keep ranking in search engines then the structure of your website is very important.
There are two main reasons why your site structure is an important ranking factor:
1. A decent structure makes sure Google ‘understands’ your site
The way your site is structured will give Google important clues about where to find the most important content.
Your site’s structure determines whether a search engine understands what your site is about, and how easily it will find and index content relevant to your site’s purpose and intent.
A good site structure could thus lead to a higher ranking in Google.
By creating a good structure, you can use the content you’ve written that has attracted links from others to help other pages rank as well.
Your site’s structure can help spread some of that link juice to the other pages on your site.
On a commercial site, that means that you can use the quality content you’ve written to boost the search engine rankings of your sales pages too.
2. A thoughtful structure makes sure you don’t compete with your own content
On your website or weblog, you will probably write multiple articles about similar topics. At Yoast, we write a lot about SEO.
If we would write eight different articles about SEO, Google would not know which of the articles is the most important one.
If we didn’t solve this with our site structure, we’d be competing with our own articles for a high ranking in Google.
Solving this problem with a good internal linking structure will thus result in higher rankings.
Search engines like Google follow links. It follows links from one web page to another web page.
A search engine like Google consists of a crawler, an index and an algorithm. A crawler follows the links on the web. It goes around the internet 24/7 and saves the HTML-version of a page in a gigantic database, called the index.
This index is updated if Google has come around your website and found a new or revised version of it. Depending on the traffic on your site and the amount of changes you make on your website, Google comes around more or less often.
For Google to know of the existence of your website, there first has to be a link from another site to your site. Following that link will lead to the first crawler-session and the first save in the index.
Creating a decent site structure (and keeping it up to date) is thus of great importance for the ranking of your website.
Google’s secret algorithm
After indexing your website, Google can show your website in the search results.
Google has a specific algorithm that decides which pages are shown in which order. How this algorithm works is a secret. Nobody knows exactly which factors decide the ordering of the search results. Moreover, factors and their importance change very often.
Testing and experimenting gives us a relatively good feel for the important factors and the changes in these factors.
Google’s results page
Google’s result page shows 7 or 10 links to sites which fit your keyword best. We refer to these results as the organic search results.
If you click to the second page, more results are shown. Above these 10 blue links are two or three ‘paid’ links, most of the time. These links are ads; people have paid Google to put these links at the top of the site when people search for a specific term.
Prices for these ads vary greatly, depending on the competitiveness of the search term. Similar ads could appear on the right of Google’s search result pages as well.
To make sure your website keeps ranking well in Google, you should develop – what we call – an Holistic SEO approach. This means you focus on it all:
Good technical SEO
A great user experience
Writing quality content
Keeping your site secure
Having a great website with high quality content, good user experience and up to date security measures will not instantly improve your ranking. In the long run though, it will definitely have a positive effect on your SEO!