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How to Create a Solid SEO-Friendly Website Structure

Last Updated on 29th May, 2024 | SEO

how to create a solid seo-friendly website structure

Tips to Setup an SEO-Friendly Website Structure

An SEO-Friendly Website Structure is crucial for any website that wants to rank well in search engines and provide users with a great experience. A website’s SEO-Friendly Structure encompasses its layout, navigation menus, URL formats, internal linking, siloing of content, and more. A well-planned and optimized SEO-Friendly Website Structure is essential for any website that aims to perform well in search engine results and offer users a seamless browsing experience.

When designed properly, an SEO-friendly website structure can lead to:

  • Improved findability, crawlability, and indexation of pages by search engine bots.
  • Reduced chances of issues like cannibalization and duplicate content.
  • Better topical relevance and authority signals to search engines.
  • Enhanced user experience through simple navigation and logical content flow.
  • Increased dwell time due to ease of finding information.
  • Higher conversion rates by guiding users to key landing pages efficiently.

However, a confusing or over-complicated website structure can negatively impact SEO and UX. Therefore, it’s essential to get the structure right from the start.

This comprehensive guide will teach you how to develop an optimized website structure that delivers results.

What is Website Structure?

Website structure refers to the way in which a website’s pages are organized and interconnected. It defines the hierarchy and navigation flow of the site, making it easier for users and search engines to find and access content. A well-structured website typically has a logical, intuitive layout with categories, subcategories, and individual pages arranged in a manner that enhances user experience and improves search engine optimization (SEO).

Your website’s structure provides the framework for organizing and presenting content to both search engines and visitors. It shapes their experience and the ability to find relevant information easily. Therefore, the structure directly impacts:

  • User experience (UX) – How easily can users navigate and find information? What is the logical flow of content? How intuitive is the IA?
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) – Can search bots crawl, index, and understand content efficiently? Does the structure provide proper topical signals?

With a weak structure, users get frustrated trying to find pages or information. Search engines also struggle to crawl and index the site properly. However, a logical, seamless structure enhances both UX and technical SEO.

Importance of Website Structure for SEO

As discussed earlier, a well-planned website structure forms the backbone of technical and topical optimization. Here are some specific ways it improves SEO:

1. Improved User Experience

When the structure helps users easily find information, it enhances their experience. This leads to:

  • Higher time on site, lower bounce rates
  • More pages viewed per visit
  • Increased chances of conversions

These positive engagement metrics signal search engines that content is useful and well-structured.

Sitelinks are those helpful sub-links shown under your listing in search results.

Google will only grant sitelinks when:

  • Your site structure allows the crawling of relevant sub-pages easily.
  • These pages are deemed topically relevant to the main keyword.

An unorganized site prevents Google from determining the right sitelinks.

3. Better Technical SEO

When search bots can easily crawl, index, and understand your site’s structure, technical optimization improves.

  • Crawling – A logical hierarchy and XML sitemap allows complete crawling.
  • Indexing – Pages get indexed under relevant keywords matching the content.
  • Relevance – Clear page topics and structure send the right signals.

This results in page ranking for precise, relevant search queries.

4. Preventing Self-Competition and Cannibalization

If your site lacks clear content organization, the same keywords may get diluted across many pages competing against each other.

Proper siloing ensures related keywords and topics are consolidated under one primary page. This helps focus equity and authority for those keywords onto one URL instead of spreading it thin.

As you can see, there are many direct and indirect SEO benefits to having a structured website. Now let’s look at the key elements.

Importance of Website Structure for UX

Some UX advantages include:

  • Intuitive navigation – Users can easily find main and sub-menus.
  • Logical flow – Pages are organized in a natural flow making information easy to find.
  • Simplicity – Clean IA (information architecture) avoids confusion from complex or cluttered structures.
  • Right level of depth – Ideal levels of categories and URL structure.
  • Consistent – Aligns with user expectations across the site.
  • Scannability – Focused content in silos for easy scanning.
  • Credibility – Quality structure builds user trust.

This results in lower bounce rates, longer time on site, and higher conversion rates. Now that you understand the importance of website structure, let’s examine the common structure types.

Different Types of Website Structures

When planning a new website, one of the first decisions is choosing the right structure type. The four main options are:

1. Linear/Sequential Structure

linear website structure

This simple, linear structure guides users through content in a predetermined sequence.

For example, a registration process with numbered steps or a blog showing articles chronologically.


  • Ideal for small websites with limited pages
  • It is simpler to implement and manage
  • It provides a controlled user journey through each page


  • Restrictive navigation, only allows going forward or back
  • Not scalable as the site grows bigger
  • It can be repetitive and boring over time

2. Network/Webbed Structure

webbed website structure

In this nonlinear, webbed website structure, pages are interconnected through links without a defined hierarchy.

For example, Wikipedia or a website with extensive cross-linking between pages.


  • Allows navigating laterally between related content
  • It provides multiple paths to explore the website
  • Users can take different journeys tailored to their needs


  • Complex, maze-like feel without proper direction
  • It is hard to keep structure optimized as pages increase
  • Higher chances of broken links over time

3. Hierarchical/Tree-Like Structure

hierarchical website structure

This is the most versatile and scalable structure. Pages are organized into logical categories and subcategories in a branching tree pattern.

For example, e-commerce product categories or blogs can be segmented into topics.


  • Intuitive categories from general to detailed content
  • Scales well for large websites
  • Helps SEO by siloing content into topics
  • Allows easy additions without affecting other sections


  • Careful planning is required to balance depth and breadth
  • Category selection and maintenance take effort
  • Links between disparate topics are less visible

4. Database/Dynamic Structure

In this structure, content is dynamically pulled from a database and published based on parameters.

For example, filtering products by price, ratings, etc or personalized content recommendations.


  • Content can be dynamically filtered, mixed, and displayed
  • It helps create personalized user experiences
  • It makes it easy to update content in one place


  • Challenging to structure for SEO
  • Link structures tend to get randomized
  • It is harder to optimize pages for topical relevance

As we can see, each structure has pros and cons. However, the hierarchical model provides the best of both SEO and UX for most larger websites.

Essential Elements of Website Structure

An optimized structure comprises certain core elements working together:

1. URL Structure

  • Use brief, logical, hyphen-separated page names for URLs.
  • Structure URLs to indicate site hierarchy from general to specific.
  • Include primary keywords but don’t over-keyword stuff.
  • Create 301 redirects if changing URLs.

2. Categories

  • Start with the main content sections and drill down into subcategories.
  • Balance breadth and depth – don’t go over 3-4 levels deep typically.
  • Follow a logical classification that users expect.
  • Use brief, keyword-rich category names.

3. Navigation

  • Include main and submenu options for easy navigation.
  • Link to important pages and categories within 1-2 clicks.
  • Use descriptive menu labels optimized with target keywords.
  • Keep primary and secondary navigation consistent across the site.
  • Link relevant pages together for easy user flows.
  • Use anchor text and title tags to indicate the destination page’s focus.
  • Link to related authority resources outside the site where useful.

5. Breadcrumbs

  • Show the click path on the category and product pages.
  • Allow quick jumping to parent categories.
  • Useful for sites over three levels deep.

6. Sitemap

  • Have an XML sitemap listing all pages submitted in the Search Console.
  • Optionally, an HTML site map page can also be provided for visitors.

Getting these elements right collectively builds a solid website structure optimized for both UX and SEO.

Now, let’s look at the step-by-step process.

8 Steps to Building a SEO-Friendly Website Structure

Follow these steps to develop an effective website structure:

  • Analyze Competitor Website Structures
  • Conduct Keyword Research and Categorization
  • Plan and Categorize Your Website Pages
  • Maintain a Clear URL Structure
  • Implement Internal Linking
  • Design Simple and Effective Navigation
  • Create a Sitemap
  • Test and Optimize the Structure

Step 1: Analyze Competitor Website Structures

Study how other reputed websites in your industry structure their content and navigation.

Look for:

  • Their content siloing and categorization
  • Optimal level of IA depth
  • Useful navigation and content presentation patterns
  • Any innovative approaches worth replicating

This analysis helps identify structural best practices to model for your site.

Step 2: Conduct Keyword Research and Categorization

Do in-depth keyword research using tools such as Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, etc.

Analyze keywords to:

  • Identify main topics and subtopics.
  • Determine keyword difficulty.
  • Assess search volume and trends.
  • Map related keyword groups.

Start grouping keywords into appropriate site categories and silos.

Step 3: Plan and Categorize Your Website Pages

Using the keyword groupings, start planning the structure:

  • Determine the main content sections.
  • Identify logical sub-categories within each section.
  • Map individual pages to categories based on focus keywords.
  • Estimate the realistic depth of categories and URL structure.

Use mind maps or spreadsheet templates to map things out.

Step 4: Maintain a Clear URL Structure

With the page hierarchy planned, define URL formats for consistency across sections.

  • Keep URLs short, logical and hyphen-separated.
  • Incorporate main keywords where possible.
  • Indicate hierarchical structure from general to specific.

For example: www.example.com/category/subcategory/page

Step 5: Implement Internal Linking

Link related pages together for easy navigation and flow.

  • Connect pages within a category using relevant anchor text.
  • Cross-link between categories where useful for users.
  • Link to most authoritative and relevant pages for important keywords.

Step 6: Design Simple and Effective Navigation

Focus on a clean IA with well-labeled menus for on-site navigation.

  • Include main and secondary menus covering key sections.
  • Use descriptive, benefit-focused menu labels optimized with target keywords.
  • Link to important landing pages within 1-2 clicks.

Step 7: Create a Sitemap

Having a sitemap helps search engines index your pages.

  • Build an XML sitemap listing all URLs to submit in the Search Console.
  • Optionally, also provide an HTML sitemap page for visitors.
  • Include breadcrumb navigation to highlight page hierarchy.

Step 8: Test and Optimize the Structure

Once launched, test and refine the structure.

  • Use analytics to identify visitor behavior and popular content.
  • See if sitelinks are generated for key pages.
  • Check for crawl errors in the Search Console.
  • Seek user feedback via surveys and interviews.

With this step-by-step approach, you can build an SEO friendly website structure that delivers results. But it requires ongoing maintenance.

Monitoring and Maintaining the Website Structure

Launching the website is just the beginning. To keep your structure optimized, you need to monitor and maintain it by:

1. Evaluating User Behavior and Feedback

Use analytics and user testing to analyze:

  • Popular content and navigation paths
  • Bounce rates on pages
  • Any usability issues
  • Feedback from surveys, interviews, reviews

This helps identify opportunities to improve the structure.

2. Leveraging Tools for Technical Audits

Use SEO tools like ScreamingFrog, DeepCrawl, SEMRush etc. to audit:

  • Indexation and crawl errors
  • Broken links and redirects
  • Crawl efficiency

Fix any issues impacting crawlability.

3. Ensuring Sitelinks are Properly Generated

Check Google Search Console and rankings to see:

  • Whether sitelinks are appearing for key pages
  • If they cover the most relevant subpages

If not, optimize page content and labels for important links.

4. Updating the Structure as the Website Evolves

As you add more pages, products, or content over time:

  • Extend site architecture with new categories as needed.
  • Create new navigation menus or links.
  • Add helpful sitelinks where appropriate.
  • Splitting large pages into separate pages is beneficial for SEO.

Maintaining your website structure ensures maximum ongoing value.

Final Thoughts

A well-structured website delivers immense SEO and UX benefits. It enhances the findability, relevance, crawlability, and conversion of your pages.

By following an optimized approach to site architecture, navigation, URL structure, internal linking, and content siloing, you set your website up for success.

While requiring some initial planning, the long-term rewards are well worth the effort of both visitors and search engines. A logical, scalable site structure lays a strong foundation for any growing website to deliver value.

By implementing the methodology presented in this guide, you can develop an SEO and user-friendly website structure tailored to your unique needs and content. Feel free to reach out for any specific advice for your website!