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How to Structure a Website So It Ranks Well In Search Results and Satisfies Users



how to structure a website so it ranks well in search results and satisfies users

Years ago I was called for a job interview at a well-known bank. The meeting was to be held on the top floor of one of the tallest buildings in Wilmington Delaware. My stress level immediately went up. Without asking, I knew that there was a good chance that I’d be speaking with a corporate executive. How did I know? Because executives typically have their offices on the top floor of a building, where the rent is highest, the views are the best, and they’re bound to make an impression.

Your website structure, much like a building layout, can be a silent and powerful communication tool.

When your site is thoughtfully and purposefully structured, it:

  • Quickly and quietly communicates your site’s most valued and important content to search engines, prospects, and customers
  • Orients visitors quickly and eases site navigation
  • Provides a robust and meaningful framework for assessing your site’s health and performance

These are the underpinnings of website success.

In this post, we’ll look at how to structure a small business website so that it ranks well in search results, satisfies users, and is easier, and cheaper, to manage and maintain. 

The intent of this post is to help position you for search engine optimization (SEO) success.

What is Site Structure?

Site structure refers to the way that a site’s content – its applications, text, images, videos, music, and more – is grouped, interconnected, and presented to human and non-human visitors. It establishes the order in which content is discovered, accessed, interpreted, and used.


Think of it like you would a restaurant menu. You want people to get oriented quickly and to enjoy the experience of navigating the menu, and deciding what they want to order. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many options at once – instead, it’s better to ease them in gently with selections laid out hierarchically, in a limited number of logical categories and subcategories. Appetizers go first, then main courses, salads, and desserts. No surprises.

This makes it easy for visitors to quickly find what they came looking for.

How is Site Structure Implemented?

Site structure is implemented using directories, folders, and links.

  • Directories and folders group content into meaningful collections. Groupings determine how different pieces relate to one another, and which ones are most important. On a website, directories and folders appear as breadcrumb and menu options designed to help website visitors, developers, and managers get the lay of the land quickly and decide where they want to go next.
  • Categories and tags are another way of grouping content – blog content – into contextual, easy to locate and access folders.
  • Links connect related content, both on and offsite. They ease and speed navigation. On a website, links are the unique web address or URL for a specific piece of content, folder, or directory. The link allows human and non-human visitors to navigate to the content directly. When links have meaningful names, they help humans and search engines set expectations about what they’re likely to find when they arrive at the link destination and can help with search rankings.
  • Website menus and breadcrumbs are just another type of link. They provide context – helping visitors get oriented quickly, keep track of where they are, reduce the number of clicks needed to get to where they want to go, and generally ease and speed navigation.

Some website development tools afford limited control over your site structure. It’s best to consult with an SEO specialist before you make your purchase decision and begin design and development.

Why Is Site Structure Important?

Site structure is important because it gives you a way to:

  • Signal your priorities and relevance to search engines;
  • Ease visitor orientation and navigation; and
  • Assess your website’s overall health and performance.

It puts you in control.

Signal Your Priorities

Search engines only rank content they know about. In order for your site’s content to appear in search results, it first has to be included in Google’s index.

Google’s index is similar to a library’s index. The index contains information about all the books in the library – or in Google’s case, all the webpages it knows about. When Google visits your website, it detects new and changed content and updates its index.

How To Structure a Website | Library Index | B-SeenOnTop

Google discovers content by following links from one page to another. If your content has no incoming links, it won’t get indexed, and it won’t show up in search results. If your content is buried deep in your site, and is rarely visited by a search engine, it will show up in search results but it could be outdated.

Structuring your content top-down with the most important items presented first helps search engines discover and update your most important content first and fastest.

Links also pass link equity. Link equity is a search engine ranking factor based on the premise that links signal trust, that the source of the link is recommending your content to their readers. The more authoritative and trustworthy the source of the link, the greater the positive impact it will have on your rankings.

Most incoming links to a website point to the home page. From there, link equity flows down into the website like champagne flows down a champagne pyramid. The glasses (or pages) closest to the top of the pyramid end up with more champagne (or “link equity”) than the glasses (or content) at the bottom.

Hierarchically structuring your content better ensures search engines can quickly and easily find and update your content. Putting your most important pages closest to the top positions them to be discovered first, and to receive more link equity than less important pages. More link equity helps them rank higher in search results.

Signal Your Relevance

For any given search query, there are thousands, sometimes millions, of webpages that could potentially provide helpful content. Google’s search algorithms sort through hundreds of billions of webpages in their index to find the most relevant, useful results for what you’re seeking.

How To Structure a Website | Millions of Pages | B-SeenOnTop

Google’s algorithm looks at many factors when deciding who ranks where in search results. It considers, for example, the words in the search query, the suitability and usability of pages in their index, the expertise of content sources, and your geographic location and search settings. The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of the query – content freshness, for example, plays a bigger role in answering queries about current events than it does for recipes.

A well-structured website groups content into topically-related and meaningfully-named directories and folders that help search engines recognize when your content is relevant.


Ease Visitor Orientation and Navigation

Menus, internal links, blog categories and tags, and breadcrumbs all ease orientation and navigation for human and non-human visitors. It helps them identify and keep track of where they are, get to where they want to go faster, and generally eases and speeds navigation.

How to Structure a Website | Breadcrumbs | B-SeenOnTop

Easy navigation increases user engagement by encouraging people to explore and spend more time on your website. They get to know your products and/or services better, and you get an opportunity to begin to earn their trust and confidence.

Usability factors into Google’s ranking algorithms. When visitors have an easier time finding what they came looking for, and engage with your content after arriving, it tells search engines they chose a good option to present in search results. They will then subsequently reward you with higher rankings.

Assess Site Health and Performance

The individuals who maintain and manage your website also benefit when your content is grouped logically, hierarchically, and in meaningfully-named folders and directories.

Website developers increase their productivity when they can find, understand, and navigate to content faster. Website managers gain the ability to do micro and macro analyses of website performance when content is methodically organized because analytics applications leverage your site structure when producing reports.

Site Structure Best Practices

Ideally, a website is structured logically and hierarchically, with the most highly-segmented, top-level, and important content presented first; the most specific and detailed last. Your site structure should allow human and non-human visitors to get to the most relevant content with the least number of clicks.

A sitemap is a visual representation of your site structure. An ideal sitemap is pyramid-shaped with a single introductory (Home) page at the top, expected and conventional navigation items below that, priority subject-area groupings next, and individual pages and posts at the very bottom.

Pyramid-Shaped Website Structure | B-SeenOnTop

Best practices when structuring a small business website include:

  1. The home page should always be at the top
  2. You should follow website design norms and have the predictable and expected About, Products and/or Services, Blog, and Contact pages on the second level
  3. Have no more than 5-7 groupings in this second tier
  4. Your most important product and/or service groupings should be on the third tier along with blog posts
  5. Link to 2nd tier files or folders and (optionally) only your most important product and/or service pages in your Main Menu
  6. Individual pages and posts should be at the lowest level
  7. Small business websites generally should not have more than 4 levels
  8. Cross-link related content
  9. Provide breadcrumbs to users when your site has 3 or more levels
  10. Use unambiguous, recognizable, and descriptive labels for menu items, directories, folders, and links. Use the same language as your intended audience so as to provide a useful “information scent” that guides visitors to where they want to go

Always provide search engines with a copy of your machine-readable search map so they will be notified when content is added, removed, or changed. It speeds up indexing and reindexing.

Monitor your analytics to determine where you might be confusing your intended audience, where files may have been misplaced, and make adjustments, as needed.

What Factors Need to be Weighed When Deciding on Site Structure?

When deciding how to structure your content, take into consideration:

  • Your different audiences
  • Their information wants, needs and pain points
  • The quantity and quality of information you can provide to address those requirements and concerns
  • What’s most important and valuable to your business

Aim for balance. If you notice one side of your pyramid growing much larger than others, you may want to consider splitting that topic into smaller groupings. Similarly, if you have silos with very little content, think about merging them so you don’t give too much weight to something that is less important to your business or audience.

Common Site Structure Missteps

Flat Website Structure

A flat website structure is when there is no website hierarchy. This is problematic in that crawl budget can run out before your site content gets indexed or reindexed.

When every file sits in the root domain, SEO equity gets evenly distributed to every piece of content on the site. Google has little to go on in terms of deciding which content is most important and how content relates to one another.

This impacts your rankings and can frustrate visitors who are trying to locate information on your site.

How to Structure a Website | Flat Site Structure | B-SeenOnTop

Mega Menus

Mega menus are large panels of expandable menu choices displayed as drop-down options – they let visitors see lower-level site pages at a glance.

The problem with mega menus is that they negate any structuring that’s taken place with folders and directories, in that search engines also see everything all at once and repeatedly – on just about every page on the website.


When everything has priority, in effect, nothing does, and you may find your most important pages get outdated in the index and ranked lower than expected. It can also be overwhelming for human visitors who, like in the overcrowded menu discussed above, get overwhelmed with too many options all at once.

How To Structure a Website | Mega Menu | B-SeenOnTop

Poorly Named Structures

Your content should be deliberately organized around the topics of interest to your intended audience. Directories, folders, and files should all be named using the same language. The way you identify the best language options is by doing keyword research.

Keyword research is an SEO practice used to identify the specific language (keywords) used by your search audience. It surfaces search volumes, seasonality, keyword difficulty, and whether there is sufficient commercial value to warrant optimization of content around specific words and phrases.

Keyword research should be performed before your site structure is implemented in order to minimize the possibility of disappointing performance and rework.

How to Structure a Website | Keyword Research | B-SeenOnTop

Outbound links on the Home Page

Most incoming links to a website point to the home page. The SEO equity that accompanies those links can bleed out pretty quickly if you are linking to an external website from your home page.

Don’t do it. If you absolutely must link out to an external source from your home page, qualify your link with an attribute that tells search engines to stay on your site, not follow the link, and not send any link equity to the link destination.

Duplicate Content

WordPress is the content management (CMS) system of choice for most small business websites and it is notorious for duplicate content.

The problem arises with the way WordPress stores content in its database. Media entries and sliders are all stored as separate files on the back-end of the website as well as appearing on pages and posts. Date, author, category, and tag archives – all different ways of getting to the same content – store the same content, over and over again, in different folders in the database.


When search engines find duplicate content, they have difficulty deciding which specific pages or posts to rank highest.

The result is not always what you expect or want. Your SEO equity can get diluted many times over, and analyzing content performance becomes complicated and time-consuming.

When you have known instances of duplicate content, you need to tell search engines which to rank and which to ignore. There are SEO tools and techniques that enable you to manage this effort, but they are often either not installed, not configured, or configured incorrectly.

Worst case, your chosen CMS does not offer the ability to perform any of these actions.

Overlapping, Undifferentiated, Too Many, or Thin Taxonomies

Taxonomies (named after the biological classification system) are a way to group related blog posts by high-level category or subject area, a specific topic or tag, author, publication date, and more.

If your chosen blog categories and tags are overlapping, undifferentiated, too many, or too thin (meaning you only have one or two pieces of content per grouping), you’ll end up with the same content being replicated in multiple folders leading to -you guessed it – duplicate content.


You also run the risk of frustrating your audience.

How to Structure a Website | Overlapping Taxonomies | B-SeenOnTop

You can avoid these problems by putting some structure around your choice of blog categories and tags. You’ll find it’s a similar discussion to the one we’re having here.

Unmanaged Site Structures

If you’ve done a good job thinking through your information architecture, your website structure should only change infrequently.

What you’re more likely to find, is that it can quickly lose definition, change shape, and become unbalanced. For that reason, it’s very important to establish controls, and routinely review your website structure to ensure it continues to satisfy your business and visitor needs.

Purposefully structuring and managing your content around sought-after information groupings, using best practices and meaningful and accurate navigational clues, ensures that visitors don’t become frustrated and leave when they can’t find what they came looking for.

It helps you rank better in search results because your SEO equity gets channeled to your most important content first, and your file and folder names give search engines context.

A good site structure eases website management and maintenance increasing your productivity and opportunities for improvement. Take the time to structure your site thoughtfully and you won’t be disappointed.


This post was first published on the B-SeenOnTop Small Business SEO blog

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?




Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.


This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach



Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.


“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement



Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

Instagram’s testing out some new options to help spice up your live-streams in the app, with some live broadcasters now able to select a game that they can play with viewers in-stream.

As you can see in these example screens, posted by Ahmed Ghanem, some creators now have the option to play either “This or That”, a question and answer prompt that you can share with your viewers, or “Trivia”, to generate more engagement within your IG live-streams.

That could be a simple way to spark more conversation and interaction, which could then lead into further engagement opportunities from your live audience.

Meta’s been exploring more ways to make live-streaming a bigger consideration for IG creators, with a view to live-streams potentially catching on with more users.

That includes the gradual expansion of its “Stars” live-stream donation program, giving more creators in more regions a means to accept donations from live-stream viewers, while back in December, Instagram also added some new options to make it easier to go live using third-party tools via desktop PCs.

Live streaming has been a major shift in China, where shopping live-streams, in particular, have led to massive opportunities for streaming platforms. They haven’t caught on in the same way in Western regions, but as TikTok and YouTube look to push live-stream adoption, there is still a chance that they will become a much bigger element in future.


Which is why IG is also trying to stay in touch, and add more ways for its creators to engage via streams. Live-stream games is another element within this, which could make this a better community-building, and potentially sales-driving option.

We’ve asked Instagram for more information on this test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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