Since the beginning of Search Engine Optimisation practice, finding the perfect and best website structure has always been one of the primary questions of any SEO practitioner. Indexing and ease of crawling are directly impacted by a site’s architecture, hence having a solid architecture is paramount in laying the foundation for future SEO Growth.
The idea of Flat Architecture and the Theme of Pyramids
Back in the day finding the perfect site architecture was a popular trend among SEOS. Out of the many proposed models, two of them were particularly made famous by Brett Tabke, the founder of Pubcon.
Here is the article link > “Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone – 26 Steps to 15k a Day – A Modern Guide to Content Marketing”
Here’s an excerpt from Tabke’s writing.
“Arrange the site in a logical manner with directory names hitting the top keywords you wish to hit.
You can also go the other route and just throw everything in the root (this is rather controversial, but it’s been producing good long-term results across many engines).”
The reference about creating directory names in the root folder is what we refer to as category pages. The basic idea is to create categories(or directories) on the most important keywords you want to rank on. The pages on the lower level focus on specific long-tail keywords and topics. All of them are linked in a logical manner thus creating semantic relationships between each topic.
There are two particular types of Site Architecture that were derived from this,
- Flat Site Structure
- Hierarchical or Deep Site Structure
Flat Site Structure
In a flat site structure, the web pages are arranged in such a manner that all the web pages on the site are not more than 3 clicks away from the home page. This is preferable in terms of crawl depth and it enables Google to index your website faster. Also, it accounts for a relatively good user experience.
Deep Site Structure
In a deep site structure, the web pages are arranged in terms of hierarchical categories. The categories constitute of most important keywords or topics. The pages in lower levels focus on exploring specific and long-tail keywords. The creating scope for creating semantic relationships between topics and providing greater coverage on each individual topic.
What does John Muller have to say about it?
“In general I’d be careful to avoid setting up a situation where normal website navigation doesn’t work. So we should be able to crawl from one URL to any other URL on your website just by following the links on the page.”
Mueller further expanded on that idea in an important way:
“If that’s not possible then we lose a lot of context. So if we’re only seeing these URLs through your sitemap file then we don’t really know how these URLs are related to each other and it makes it really hard for us to be able to understand how relevant is this piece of content in the context of your website. So that’s one thing to… watch out for.”
John Muller’s response takes a dual stance in this regard. While flat architecture definitely helps in improving crawl efficiency, a deep site structure helps in creating deeper context which helps google identify semantic relationships between each which may influence how they are ranked.
So what is the Best Type of Site Architecture
So the problem is pretty simple. On one hand, we have the problem of improving crawl efficiency and on the other, we have the problem of creating context and semantic relationships in our content.
So perhaps the best approach is to follow a deep site architecture and simultaneously maintain an HTML sitemap.
An HTML Sitemap is a page on your site which contain all the URLs on your website. This way not only we are creating out of our URL structure, but we are also maintaining minimum crawl depth and hence improving website crawlability.
How to find our Site Architecture
- Open Screaming Frog
- Run a Crawl of your Website with the following configuration.
- Open Visulization and Create a Crawl Tree Graph
- From the Crawl Tree Graph, you will be able to visualize your current site architecture.
Flat site structure sample