If you are preparing to create your website, don't neglect the tree structure. Essential for the architecture of a site, it is essential for to offers users a fluid, ergonomic and successful experience. It also plays a key role in SEO.
What is a website tree structure?
At first, a website is just an accumulation of disorganized pages. The site tree is a diagram or map used to organize the content, the pages of the site and the links that connect them.
It ensures that visitors can quickly get to the page that interests them and not get lost. Otherwise, they will not hesitate to look for the information elsewhere.
Necessary during the creation of a website, the tree structure intervenes before the realization of graphic models and prototypes. It is mainly based on the establishment of one or more personas, in other words the typical profile of a person browsing your site.
It is a matter of putting yourself in the user's shoes, in order to create a user-friendly experience.
In addition, you must absolutely prioritize your content and classify it in a logical order, taking into account your objectives, but especially your visitors’ behavior. The better the navigation, the higher your conversion rate.
The role of a website tree in SEO
Your website tree structure plays a crucial role in SEO, whether in the hierarchy of pages or on the overall plan. Indeed, search engines use algorithms (like Google's algorithm) to analyze the pages of a website and understand the links between them. This is where the tree structure comes in.
When it has a clear structure, the hierarchy of a site will guide Google's algorithm to better rank pages in search results.
Improve the user experience
For Google as for other search engines, user experience is a major criterion in a site’s ranking. They have also created the term SXO combining Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with the term "User Experience".
In order to measure the real or approximate quality of the user experience, Google uses various software that assesses the essential parameters of a healthy website. These include stability and page load speed.
When the tree structure is thought and the site's structure is coherent, visitors find it easier to navigate from one page to another and to find the content they are looking for. In this case, the time spent on the site is often longer, which increases the chances of generating conversions.
A help for crawlers
A good SEO implies a good crawl. The latter is done for Google's robots, which are indexing programs that can crawl thousands of websites by following internal and external links.
To determine the relationship between different pages and levels of hierarchy, Google bots act as a guide for Google. Google tends to highlight sites that make it easier to find the right page.
If your architecture holds up, the search engine will quickly understand how your site works and what content it proposes. As a result, it will provide its pages with the optimal indexing and positioning in relation to a given query.
The 7 steps to create a website tree structure
List all the contents of your website
The first step is to make an inventory of existing content. To do this, you must gather all the elements on your site and put them in a folder. Then classify them by theme or by topic.
For example, you can group documents about your products in one category and press releases in another.
At this point, think by ideas, not by pages. Once you've taken inventory, you'll begin to see the hierarchy of the site more clearly. The links between categories and pages will also be more obvious to you.
Analyze the tree structure of your competitors
The tree structure of your competitors'sites is a real source of inspiration and useful information. First of all, taking a look at your competitors' sites will allow you to check if you did not miss an important idea or theme when you made your content inventory.
Secondly, this practice will help you to collect ideas about the organization of your content. Of course, each site has its own structure. If you are targeting the top ranked sites by Google, this may give you some insight into search engine and user preferences.
Find a balance between categories and subcategories
Before moving on to the actualtree structure , you need to be able to find a balance between the categories and sub-categories of yourwebsite. To achieve this, the pyramid structure remains the best option. It allows both to establish a clear link between the elements and to understand how they are connected.
In general, it is recommended not to exceed 7 or 8 categories. To create more specific pages without making visitors feel lost, the number of subcategories should be close to the number of categories.
Whatever the search, the user should be able to find the answer in 3 clicks.
Create an optimized URL structure
The URL structure is closely related to thetree structure. As long as your hierarchy is solid, your URLs will follow. They must be simple and readable for the site to gain traffic and visibility. It is also necessary that they integrate the recognizable keywords of each page. .
For example, for a page www.website.com/makeup/mascara, it is immediately clear that this page is located in the makeup category, with the subcategory mascara.
On the other hand, it is recommended to minimize the number of levels to allow visitors to quickly identify the structure of the website.
Organize and prioritize the content
Now that you have a detailed list of your pre-existing content, it's time to think about the content you want to have on your site. You can therefore establish a plan by organizing your content by levels of hierarchy.
A common rule of thumb is that it is best not to exceed 3 levels. Level 1 should obviously be the homepage.
The main navigation menu
The main menu holds a key role in the user experience and SEO of a website. It not only helps visitors find the content they are looking for, but also helps them understand the overall structure of your site.
For most sites, the main navigation menu includes the main categories. In order for it to be clear and adapted to the site, it is necessary to analyse the site objectives and type of site, the number of pages, as well as the target audience.
It is also necessary to think about the format of the menu: navigation menu with or without bar, menu with double bar, mega menu, menu with or without dropdown, etc.
The breadcrumb trail
The term “breadcrumb trail” originates from the story of Hansel and Gretel, who sow crumbs in the forest to find their way back. On a website, this element allows you to find your way back to the homepage.
Generally, it is located at the top of the page and indicates the level in which the visitor is, as well as the number of pages that separate him from the homepage. With each click, the user can go forward or backward.
Nevertheless, if the breadcrumb trail allows you to improve your SEO, you need to have a fairly logicaltree structure in order to benefit from its advantages.
Since it is rare to be able to develop new pages on a website on a regular basis, blog posts are a great way to get around this barrier. By integrating this type of format into your tree structure, you will be able to work on your SEO and add new keywords more easily.
That said, it is imperative to properly classify your articles according to their theme.
Road test the tree structure against the realities of navigation and SEO
This step consists in making the last changes to the structure of the site, while focusing on the links between its different pages. The best methodology here is to imagine scenarios and test their effectiveness.
There are a few major points you can build on. First, stay focused on the Internet user’s profile established beforehand. By putting yourself in his shoes, you can test the acquisition channels to understand how he can arrive on your site.
Also, watch for landing pages based on the searches they perform. This way, you'll be able to adjust so that users can reach the desired page on your site easily.
Make sure that your keywords are positioned at level 1 or 2 of the tree structure. Finally, be aware that the deeper a page is, the worse the search engines will rank it.
Develop the internal netlinking
The Internal links refers to the contextual links that complement the classification links.
What are contextual links? These are the internal links of the site that refer to another page on the same site. The destination page to which the user is directed must be relevant and useful. It is supposed to provide more details and explanations to improve the user experience.
Give weight to strategic pages
As search engines tend to highlight pages with a lot of contextual links, you should try to place as many of them as possible on your most important pages.
Contextualize the links
Relying on internal links to give weight to your most important pages is undoubtedly beneficial, but you still need to contextualize them. In concrete terms, search engines rely on the phrases and texts associated with the links to gather more information and understand their meaning.
In order to hope that your pages are correctly ranked, make sure that each internal link is accompanied by keywords that are easily recognizable by the engines.
On the other hand, placing several links together in bulleted lists should be avoided.
You will have understood: regardless of the design of the site, it is the structure and hierarchy of the pages that should be at the heart of your design plan to have a successfulsite tree.
This is an essential phase as the site's tree structure represents the skeleton of your website. If it is efficient, your visitors will arrive at their destination on your landing pages and the search engines will more easily understand the content of your website.
Article written by Louis Chevant
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