7 Starter SEO steps: Step 2 – Website structure

The SEO Journey - Step 2: Website structure

7 Starter SEO steps for beginners and new websites

Step 2: Website structure

Written by: Tarquin Lessing . 25 October 2020

Now that you have your list of keywords in your spreadsheet which we created in the last step, as well as a general idea of the pages you will be covering in your website, it is time to look at how to structure all this information you want to present.

If you do not yet have your list of primary and secondary SEO keywords, you can review the previous post here which will bring you up to speed. After you have done that, come back here and continue your journey.


What is meant by website structure?

By website structure we mean the manner in which the pages of your website are ordered in a sensible way, and linked together in proper relation to each other, to better motivate and solidify a good ranking by search engines.

Site structure is no doubt one of the most overlooked areas when people start doing SEO. 

The importance, however, cannot be understated, as it creates a solid base for your entire website project going forward.


Advantages of good website structure

Good site structure leads to better search results, as simple as that. 

This is partly due to the fact that by structuring your site in a logical manner, you make it easier for Google to crawl, understand and grab those nuances we spoke about in the previous chapter that set you apart from your online competition.

Great site structure also leads to a great user experience (UX), which is gold in the terms of your search goals. User engagement is an important ranking signal for Google and as such by making your website easy to navigate and the information pleasant to digest, the user will be more engrossed by your content.



Having a well laid out and understood website for the search engine will motivate site links in the SERP (SERP or Search Engine Results Page is the page of results the search engine delivers as the answer to a search query) results that display your website.

Sitelinks are the additional text links which you often see at the footer of a search result. These links greatly increase the chance that the user clicks your result, as they offer many more action calls with which to gain a click. Organic site-links are a very powerful tool to increase your organic click rate.


example of site-links
Site-links add extra click-through potential to your listing


These site-links are not obtained by filling out a form, adding code to your website or using a special plugin. Google decides on these automatically based on how well it can read and understand the motivation and structure of your site. 

This is a primary reason for making your site easy to crawl by the engine bots (bots are the automated programs which the search engines use to scan millions of websites every day for changes and information).

A website which is not as well structured will find it difficult, if not impossible to ever show site links.


Requirements for creating a good website structure

Website hierarchy

Website hierarchy is the linking relationship between the various pages and sections that make up your website.

Plan the hierarchy of your content pages you want to present, and how they will flow before you start the website design process and take the following into account

  • Your audiences differences
  • Their information wants, needs and pain points
  • The quantity and quality of information you can provide to address these points
  • The most important factors and products of your business.


When thinking of how you want to present all this information, it is, as far as possible,  best to try and avoid a flat structure and always recommend aiming for a pyramid structure. This is especially true if you have a very large site with a lot of content you want to present, in an ordered and sensible fashion, without overwhelming the user.

A flat hierarchy starts at the home page with all pages from there branching off on the same level.


Example of a flat hierarchy structure


Alternatively, a pyramid hierarchy flows from the home page and has 2 – 7 categories which flow from there on the 2nd level. More related pages will then flow from the 2nd level to a 3rd and even a 4th level. 

In general, it is advised to have no more than 4 levels, unless you are an extremely large business or special cases that need to convey many large, complex pages of information.


Example of a pyramid hierarchy
Example of a pyramid hierarchy


Try and always keep a relatively even amount of page sections in the 3rd level of the website. You may notice the website content is slightly unbalanced if not. Should it feel a chore to source the information you need, consider arranging the sections in a better fashion and breaking some of the information up into another main pillar.


No matter which hierarchy that you employ, ensure that the category pages are keyword optimized, relevant to your primary search term for that page (from your keyword spreadsheet). 

For your main categories, use your primary keyword, with each subsequent level below using a secondary keyword relevant to your primary. In doing so you will ensure that you take full advantage of the long-tail search potential.


Navigation & URL considerations

Keep the URL structure which you use for your pages in the following format:

<domain><level2 category><inner level3 page><inner level4 page>


Make good use of your primary (for level 2) and secondary (for level 3 & 4) keywords in the category sections of your URL to ensure it is properly optimized, and giving you the maximum potential.


For your navigation to have the best chance of being read by the engines, keep it encoded in simple HTML or CSS. Using javascript or any other unusual scripting language or tool may look very good aesthetically, but could give the engine a lot of trouble in reading your navigation links and make crawling and indexing the pages of your website troublesome.


Internal linking

These are the links in pages of your website which point to other pages within your website and guide the user, and the search engines, along a logical path through your site in order to access all the information with the least amount of effort or confusion.


Your internal linking must be good in order to enable Google to find all the pages of your website by only using your internal links themselves without ever having to use the main navigation links. This does not mean that you must overdo the links on every page, still keep it natural.


Plan how your website’s pages link with each other well during the architecture phase. You do this in order to supply the search engine better context with regard to the meaning of your page. Should the engine only be able to crawl your page from your sitemap, without leading off from a relevant page, it loses the context with which to understand the page, which could hurt your ranking and the longtail potential of your page.


Keep in mind that the engines may see a page with no links coming in, or going out, to be unimportant and not related to your site. This again, could cost you ranking potential and hurt the long-tail.


Ensure that the internal links that you do place are all relevant, in context and not leading to irrelevant pages which do not offer further context of the page from which they lead.


Final thoughts

Lastly, remember that while we are trying to make good gains in our organic rank for the search engines, our primary content target must always be aimed at the user and enhancing their experience.

The next chapter in this series will be looking at on-page SEO considerations, where you will use this list you created in Step 1 as well as the content from this step to grow your website into a powerful SEO force. See you then.


Come back and bookmark my blog for more great knowledge to enable you to go from an SEO beginner to a complete SEO winner. Stick around and follow me on my Facebook page or bookmark this Blog. If you would like to chat more about SEO and how I can help your website, please contact me at info@seou.co.za