Aug 06

Why Is Site Architecture Important for SEO?

The concepts of site architecture and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) have gained tremendous attention in the recent past. The popularity of these concepts is partly due to the growing significance of internet searches, especially for businesses that want their websites to be ranked top by search engines.

What we might fail to comprehend is the importance of the architecture of our sites for SEO. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that we understand what site architecture means before delving into its significance for SEO.

The architecture of a site refers to the layout of web pages. All websites are designed with a particular purpose in mind. The site might be aimed to inform, entertain or influence among others things. The design of our websites should impact or bear upon how web visitors, as well as the Search Engines, interact with our site.

The primary web pages that have the most relevant content should be able to be accessed by our visitors with relative ease. In consideration of Search Engines, information architecture should assist with indexation and crawlability.

Site Architecture For SEO

Search engine optimisation might seem like a complicated term. SEO does not require us to possess a degree in rocket science. However, we need a basic understanding of how the Search Engines work, plus common sense.

Search engines like Bing and Google reward web pages using a combination of ranking signals or factors. Search engine optimisation concerns are ensuring that the content on our website elicits the right kind of signals. To rank consistently in search engine results pages, we need to invest continuous effort in the process. Search engine optimisation cannot be achieved through a one-time fix or using one method.

The significance of site architecture for SEO becomes apparent at this point. Although it is essential to design the layout of our website with SEO, we also have to produce meaningful content consistently and incorporate other factors like social media participation. The consideration of this factor plays an essential role in determining the number of our pages that appear in the index of a Search Engine. Additionally, this influences the volume of web traffic to our site yielded by the Search Engines.

Importance of Site Architecture

Site layout or design is an integral element to achieve high rankings in organic SEO. Organising the layout and content or data affects various parts of an organisation’s web design.

Here are some of the ways through which information architecture benefits our websites:

Usability

We all want our sites to generate as much traffic as possible in search engines. Attaining high search engine rankings can direct a substantial proportion of targeted traffic to our website. Consequently, making our sites more user-friendly is essential. Keeping this factor in mind, we need to develop a logical information architecture easily comprehensible and navigable by our users.

Rankings

Apart from generating greater traffic to our website, it is essential that we consider search engines in developing smart content configuration. We want to ensure that we are giving our site users the appropriate pages and allowing these pages the required amount of time. Otherwise, how we design the site pages, particularly the information that we emphasise can influence out site rankings negatively or positively.

Conversions

We do not only want users to visit our site and leave without us attaining the goal of the entire process-conversions. Irrespective of whether we are individuals or organisations, we want the people who visit our website to either purchase products, like or appreciate our services or become members through subscriptions.

Whichever the case, we should design the site in such a manner that makes the conversion process a natural course. Effective information architecture will generate a reasonable or high conversions rate. Our site layout should guide the user through the conversion procedure, offering then informative pages that start with general early-in-the-purchasing cycle content and progressively move them towards subsequent steps in the buying process.

Site speed

Search Engines usually want to make the web much faster. Consequently, the leading search engines tend to allow the sites that respond more quickly with a slight ranking advantage than their slower counterparts. Although making speeding up our websites does not guarantee higher search engine rankings, we should exploit every opportunity to stand out in the web.

We all know how speed influences our behaviour online. No one appreciates a web page that takes ages to load on a browser. A well-designed site takes into account various factors that affect the site speed. Additionally, speed has the potential to reinforce factors such as usability and conversions that we have covered above.

We should keep in mind the element of speed in our site layout if we want to enjoy all the benefits of an online presence.

Site crawlability

Search engines move through, or “crawl” websites, flipping from one to another until they find out the required information. The design of websites influences their crawlability.

For our pages to appear on the search engine page, they have to be crawled. Since there are results found under a single search entry, it is essential to ensure that the sites are optimised, usually organising information using popular keywords.

Even though our site might be search engine optimised, there are other elements that we should put into consideration since they can cause problems. For instance, Flash or JavaScript have the potential to hide link, a development that can make our web pages invisible to a search engine. Consequently, it is essential that we take appropriate precautions during web design to ensure that such challenges are avoided.

Search engines allow individual sites particular search budget, which represents the approximate amount of pages or time they are crawled each day. The search budget can be based on the authority or trustworthiness of a site.

Site layout can improve crawl efficiency to make certain that the search engine crawls the right pages more often. For instance, we can use internal link structures and robots.txt to specifically direct the search engines not to crawl particular URL parameter can enhance crawl efficiency.

Tips to Improve Site Architecture for Search Engine Optimisation

To reap the most benefits from search engine optimisation, we need to plan our information layout carefully. Here are some things that we should put into consideration:

Interface And User Experience

Web developers tend to develop better websites and applications if they have an understanding of user experience (UX) and usability design. Either we have already recruited developers with this experience, or we will need to make sure that we have professionals while conducting user studies so that they can respond to our particular needs.

Great user experience is a sum of many little elements. Consequently, sharp design and development should go together. Let us consider simple error messages and pages on our site. Can we say that they are helpful and friendly? What do we need for 404 error pages?

Site developers usually read and comprehend machine error messages with more ease. However, this is not the case with website users. Site layout should ensure that error messages are clear, concise, and presented in plain language, and accompanied by helpful suggestions concerning what users should do next. An excellent error page provides a link to the homepage in a conspicuous position and matches the overall tone of the website.

Cross browsers

We need to ensure that apart from SEO, our site design addresses cross-browser issues that can hinder the user experience. We all yearn for consistency of implementation across platforms and browsers.

However, to achieve that, we should verify that our sites work well. The most straightforward approach to realise this is to test our sites using the latest releases of browsers that our sites support. Furthermore, we should keep in mind that browsers tend to render websites differently depending on the type of operating system that we use. Therefore, we should continue testing the site layout for SEO. We should also think about the use of our site and content by screen readers, mobile phones, and search engines.

The design and development of our websites should utilise a progressive enhancement perspective. The connotation has various meanings. However, the simplest is that progressive enhancement utilises web technologies in a superimposed fashion that allows all to access the basic functionality and content of a web page, utilising any Internet connection or browser. The design approach also provides those with better bandwidth, more experience or advanced browser software a superior version of the page.

Progressive enhancement development approach emphasises the separation of presentation and content by applying semantic HTML coupled with external stylesheets. Consequently, we can safely say that the method emphasises accessible design. The distinction of content utilising semantic markup also assists search engines index sites more effectively.

Technology

The type of technology that we use to develop out sites can have a significant impact on SEO. Consequently, it is recommendable that we separate the development process from production.

Let us consider the following example. JavaScript is usually an optional feature in most sites. Some mobile devices do not support JavaScript while in others the users disable it intentionally on their browsers. Some screen readers might or might not support JavaScript. We should keep in mind that if certain parts of our sites are only accessible using JavaScript, some search engines like Google are unlikely to index those pages.

Issues with our sites can be resolved more easily if developers comprehend HTTP and the application of GET and POST approaches. Effective handling of sessions and cookies can speed up our websites and their overall development. Also, we can address or avoid crawl problems using sitemaps, including XML and HTML.

Site architecture

Site performance

Although we have highlighted the importance of site architecture in improving site speed, it is essential we understand how to enhance the performance of our websites. We should keep in mind the best user interfaces have absolutely no value if we cannot convince users to stick around long enough to relate to the pages.

Remember that our human visitors are not the only ones interested in site performance. Search engines specify speed as an essential factor in the determination of a site’s page in rank in their search results.

Underlying site layout is coding and modifications that make web pages load faster. Consequently, these practices are essential in the site design and development to optimise for search engines. We can determine our site performance using various approaches and tools. For instance, Google Page Speed (https://developers.google.com/pagespeed) allows us to plug in our URL and get a detailed and prioritised report indicating the things that are slowing down our pages, as well as what we can do to improve them.

Page speed insights example

Some of the best practices for information architecture programming for faster download encompass optimised caching, minimised payload, and minimised server round trips. To optimise caching, we can set static components such as page images to remain in the users’ caches. The approach ensures that every time our users or we load our pages, they are not reloading every individual element.

Web pages are not made up of just a single HTML file. On the contrary, they are a combination of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and images among others elements. Therefore, loading particular components requires a round trip over the network from a server to the browser and back. All but a few of the browsers prevent the remainder of the web page from loading when a JavaScript file is being parsed or downloaded. Also, web pages usually execute scripts in their order of presentation in the code.

The significance is that the code order, and subsequently the site architecture matters to the overall site performance as well as SEO. Embedding a link to our CSS file after we have put a link to a JavaScript can prevent or delay a page from delivering for the users. Whenever possible, we should put CSS links before JavaScript links in our web pages’ head.

Numerous tools minify or shrink JavaScript and CSS. Since the smaller code implies faster load and subsequently site performance, we should use these solutions.

Summary

Overall, when we are developing websites to optimise for findability, these are the three central questions we need to ask ourselves:

  • Can our users find the site?
  • Can they navigate the websites?
  • Can the users find the website notwithstanding the website?

We should always make it easy for the search engines to crawl our sites and index all our pages. Our sites layout and navigation plays an essential role in search engine optimisation. Therefore, it is crucial that we ensure from one page to another and ascertain that our web pages are organised logically.

Speed, particularly the load time, also plays a critical role in signalling search engines. Consequently, the faster our web pages load, the better for our SEO purposes. It essential to consider factors like a few images on our web pages since when they are too many, they might inadvertently slow down the load times.

The meta descriptions, keywords, and title tags on our sites should be a representation of the contents of our website. The implication is that they should show the search engines that we are credible and understand what we are doing. The metadata keywords and title tags need to support and remain relevant to particular pages on our sites.

Our websites need to be designed with SEO under consideration. However, we also need to develop meaningful content consistently and even take part in social media. In this manner, we will be able to ensure that our site architecture contributes fully and more effectively towards our search engine optimisation efforts.

About The Author

Ajay Chavda is the co-founder of Weboptimizers, an SEO agency in Melbourne and has been involved with SEO for over 15 years. Between the digital properties and security forums he has managed, his articles have been read by approximately 50 million unique visitors.

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