Is Your Website a Maze?
When planning website architecture, it is vitally important to have a very clear plan for your website navigation. Crystal clear navigation is not only necessary for your website’s visitors to easily explore your site, but for the search engines to properly crawl and index all pages. The website owner, website designer and the SEO firm, professional or consultant should all work together while designing your site and the should be passed on to the website designer as per the necessary parameters stipulated by your SEO professional.
These parameters will include the name of the folders and URL structure for each page. Each page should contain the main keyword relevant to that page as the first part of the URL. You should select the shortest keyword phrase for your inner pages from the list of your main keywords. These keywords should not only be found in the URL, but should also be used in the page titles. This combination has been shown to be highly effective and your ranking for the particular keyword will show a tremendous improvement.
If your URL happens to have a keyword phrase, then you can use hyphens to separate each word – but you should limit to a maximum of 2 to 3 hyphens. When you are using folders for grouping files, the folder names too should be keyword rich following the same principle on hyphenation for the URL structure. Be consistent with your choices – don’t use hyphens here, underscores there, lowercase here and title case there.
Google as well as nearly all other search engines give different values to keywords appearing in different positions of a webpage. If keywords appear in the domain name and the inner page URLs, they will be given the highest value. Likewise keywords appearing in the page title, keywords with h1 tags and keywords appearing in emphasized text, etc., have values of their own. In order to present your site as relevant for these search phrases, you must pay attention to all these factors and identify your keywords repeatedly.
In cases where your domain name is not keyword rich, you can still appear relevant from the URLs of the inner pages because there is nothing to block you from having URLs of your own. Take maximum advantage of this opportunity! It’s things like this that highlight the importance of needing to start your SEO preparations far in advance of the design of your website. If you like 70% of the webmasters delay thinking about your website’s SEO after the completion of your website you will not be able to get the maximum benefit from the inner page URLs of your website.
Working together with your website designer and your SEO consultant will help you ensure your site is properly set up. Your site’s architecture will be properly navigable if it only takes four clicks to get to any page on the site (excluding final checkout, of course.) Pages that are hidden too deep in the site’s architecture may be missed by the search engines while indexing your website, and may be too time consuming for visitors to reach.