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Optimizing for site structure

From: SEO Fundamentals

Video: Optimizing for site structure

As you focus on more and more keywords and themes, you'll be developing more content on your website, and you'll start to have a lot of pages to hold this content. It's going to be important to structure all of these pages in a meaningful way, because in order for search engines to return your pages to searchers in response to relevant search queries, they need to understand how your pages relate to one another. Let's imagine that you're visiting a bookstore for the first time. You're looking for a fiction book written by an author whose name starts with the letter J. Since it's your first visit, you don't know where anything is, and you're going to have to learn the layout of this new bookstore.

Optimizing for site structure

As you focus on more and more keywords and themes, you'll be developing more content on your website, and you'll start to have a lot of pages to hold this content. It's going to be important to structure all of these pages in a meaningful way, because in order for search engines to return your pages to searchers in response to relevant search queries, they need to understand how your pages relate to one another. Let's imagine that you're visiting a bookstore for the first time. You're looking for a fiction book written by an author whose name starts with the letter J. Since it's your first visit, you don't know where anything is, and you're going to have to learn the layout of this new bookstore.

Fortunately, the bookstore has some really good navigation to help you out. You look at the store directory to find where the fiction section is located. Once you reach the fiction section, you identify the specific shelf that has fiction books written by authors whose names start with the letter J. You then look at that shelf, and you find the specific book that you were looking for. Now imagine you keep going through this process to learn the entire layout of the bookstore. You'll figure out all the different sections and shelves, categories, and authors. And eventually, you'll end up knowing about all of the individual books.

This is exactly what a search engine does, it crawls and navigates an entire website to learn what's there, how it's organized, where exactly all of the content can be found, and what it's all about. Now imagine that instead of simply visiting the bookstore, you now work at the bookstore. You've learned everything about how the store is laid out and where specific books are. If a customer walks in the door and says, hey, I'm looking for a fiction book written by an author whose name I can't remember but I know it starts with the letter J, you'll be able to immediately guide them to the book they're looking for.

Now, you're the search engine. People come to you looking for information, and you point the way to it. And you can do this quickly and efficiently because you've understood the content and how it's structured. On the Web, a search engine will find your homepage and start to navigate through your website, through your links. The way you link to pages within your own site is important, and it's known as internal linking. If you're an online store, for example, you might have a system of product categories that link to subcategories that hold links to individual products.

If you're an informational site, you may be organized by topics and then dates of publication. Whatever structure and strategy you choose, a clean site structure will really help search engines understand your entire website, find your content, and help searchers find what they're looking for. On the other hand, a bad site structure can be detrimental to a search engine understanding your site. You might find websites that have no navigation at all, or force you to scroll for hours through a single page, single tier site map to find what you're looking for.

You might see links that take users down at dead-end path with no way to get back to where they started, or you might click on links that go to pages that don't exist anymore. If a search engine can't understand the layout of your site, or doesn't believe that the structure makes sense, or finds all kinds of missing pages, they may not come back as much, and they certainly won't be recommending you to other people. Because everyone's websites and objectives are different, there's no right structure that works for everyone. The most important thing to remember is that your site structure should be clear to you and it should be clear to people.

Remember, search engines are just trying to emulate human processes. So once you spend some time designing and developing a site structure that's logical and easy for people to understand and navigate through, you can feel confident that search engines will understand your site structure as well.

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This video is part of

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SEO Fundamentals

64 video lessons · 43238 viewers

David Booth
Author

 
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  1. 1m 34s
    1. Welcome
      1m 19s
    2. Using the Facilitator's Guide
      15s
  2. 11m 46s
    1. What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
      4m 6s
    2. Reading a search engine results page
      2m 17s
    3. How SEO affects your business
      2m 38s
    4. Setting SEO expectations
      2m 45s
  3. 20m 49s
    1. Why you need a keyword research plan
      2m 47s
    2. How to research keywords
      3m 23s
    3. Tools to help you analyze keywords
      4m 43s
    4. Understanding keyword attributes
      3m 46s
    5. Understanding keyword distribution
      3m 50s
    6. Ongoing keyword evaluation
      2m 20s
  4. 26m 8s
    1. Understanding content optimization
      2m 14s
    2. Optimizing for site structure
      3m 41s
    3. Recognizing different types of content
      2m 23s
    4. Optimizing textual page elements
      8m 30s
    5. Optimizing non-text components of a web page
      4m 0s
    6. Analyzing content quality
      2m 39s
    7. Exploring the benefits of user-generated content
      2m 41s
  5. 22m 12s
    1. Interpreting the code behind web pages
      3m 9s
    2. Understanding how search engines index content
      2m 37s
    3. Working with canonical URLs and redirects
      2m 59s
    4. Leveraging microformats
      2m 39s
    5. Working with server-side factors
      3m 18s
    6. Using Google Webmaster Tools
      3m 58s
    7. Using Bing Webmaster Tools
      3m 32s
  6. 30m 53s
    1. Overview of long-term content strategizing
      2m 44s
    2. Planning a successful content strategy and avoiding common mistakes
      3m 46s
    3. Defining your audience, topics, angle, and style
      4m 17s
    4. Understanding different types of content
      4m 25s
    5. Getting ideas for content
      4m 0s
    6. Working with an editorial calendar
      3m 33s
    7. Promoting your content with social media
      3m 52s
    8. Measuring content performance
      4m 16s
  7. 18m 28s
    1. Understanding the importance of links
      4m 49s
    2. Building internal links
      2m 5s
    3. Building external links
      4m 19s
    4. Finding link-building opportunities
      4m 36s
    5. Executing a link-building strategy
      2m 39s
  8. 16m 32s
    1. Measuring SEO performance
      4m 10s
    2. Analyzing keywords
      5m 13s
    3. Analyzing links
      4m 9s
    4. Analyzing the impact of social media
      3m 0s
  9. 18m 45s
    1. Understanding SEO and ecommerce
      2m 36s
    2. Working with semantic HTML
      2m 22s
    3. The technical components of ecommerce
      3m 9s
    4. Exploring ecommerce information architecture
      2m 38s
    5. Producing ecommerce content
      2m 33s
    6. Leveraging link building and social media for ecommerce
      3m 12s
    7. Adapting ecommerce websites for international audiences
      2m 15s
  10. 25m 38s
    1. Understanding local search
      3m 14s
    2. Understanding Google+ Local
      3m 0s
    3. Setting up and optimizing Google+ Local
      4m 46s
    4. Getting more citations
      3m 52s
    5. Getting more reviews for your business
      3m 43s
    6. Optimizing your website for local search
      4m 13s
    7. The future of local search
      2m 50s
  11. 15m 48s
    1. Understanding cultural aspects of international SEO
      2m 30s
    2. Optimizing technical content for international audiences
      2m 57s
    3. Optimizing translated and localized content
      2m 9s
    4. Building links for an international audience
      2m 47s
    5. Analyzing and measuring an international SEO campaign
      2m 17s
    6. Avoiding pitfalls with international SEO
      3m 8s
  12. 1m 10s
    1. Determining your next steps
      1m 10s

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