A well-defined website structure is key to helping both users and search engine bots navigate your site with ease. When you determine the navigation and structure of your site, you are effectively deciding its topical focus and organizing the content. Your topical focus is where you define your brand and demonstrate its expertise, what it stands for, and what products or services it provides. And, the more content you generate on your site about the topics that people are searching for in your realm of expertise, the more relevant your site will become to search queries – which in turn will result in more search visibility. In this post, we’ll go over the high-level concepts on how to use keyword research to create an optimal site structure when creating a new website or forging a redesign of an existing site.
What is site structure?
Simply put, site structure is the way you group and organize the content on your site. Individual Web pages become directories and sections of your site when linked to one another in a SEO-savvy way. (To learn more about linking, refer to part 2 of my BrightEdge post on basic SEO concepts). For users, a well-defined site structure helps them easily move from section to section on the topics they care about or wish to explore further, helping them readily find the information they seek. For search engines, it helps them better “understand” your site’s content, and builds authority and topical relevance in the eyes of the bots.
How do keywords play into site structure?
There are many ways you might choose to design your site’s structure and navigation, and this depends upon your business and website goals. For now, we’ll focus on how your keyword research can indicate the types of topics that should comprise your site’s content, which you can then group into the “themed” sections of your site – ultimately defining its navigation. As I mentioned in my basic guide to keyword research here on the BrightEdge blog, the final step in research can be using your keyword categories to create a site structure. As a refresher, at the close of your keyword research. you may find you have a group of keyword terms related to “X” product or “Y” service. Once you’ve determined your keywords’ search demand, you can assign keywords to corresponding pages of your site that build out those important sections related to X product or Y service.
How to use keywords to create navigational site structure: an example
At a minimum, most online businesses have a services or product page, an “about us” page, and perhaps a “resources” page. So you most likely already have an idea of what sections of your site will exist. Next, you can begin mapping the keywords to the content you will create to expand upon the sections of your site, thus further defining its navigational structure. Using a San Jose dentist/orthodontist as an example, the practice might provide and have a lot of keywords around different services, such as standard dental care, braces and Invisalign. Your goal would be to create useful content in the form of individual Web pages that correlate to both the services and the keywords for that service. Each of these individual service pages would be organized under a main “Services” landing page. This will help visitors find specific information easily, and help search engines determine that its site is relevant to those search terms. Here’s a visual from a keyword research spreadsheet and the corresponding URL structure.
In general, you’ll want to reserve the main landing pages for the most “generic,” high-demand keywords (often only one- or two-word key terms). The main landing page is where you’ll introduce visitors to your services, products or topics, depending on your business. Subpages typically support keywords that are more specific, and likely have less search volume that those of the main landing pages’ keywords. Each section of the site would be housed in a website directory, which is created by designating your site’s structural navigation – the URL structure. The result? A well-organized website experience for users that provides topically relevant, easily-navigated content for search engines!