SEO Basics 2017 Guide – Part 2

SEO Guide

In the first part of CodeCentrals SEO Basics 2017 Guide, we covered how to optimise page titles and description/meta tags. If you missed it, or want a quick recap, you can view SEO Basics 2017 Guide – Part 1 here. In part 2 of the SEO Guide, we’ll be covering how to improve site structure. 

Improving Site Structure can be divided into two parts:

  1. Improving site URLs
  2. Making your site easier to navigate.

So let’s dive right in.

Improving your site’s URL:

 

Simple to understand URLs will convey content information easily.

SEO Guide - Long, complicated, difficult to understand URL example. (Made up website)

Figure 1: A user may have difficulty reading/remembering this URL.

Good URLs will keep your site better organised and also help with the crawling of the website by Google. Google can crawl any form of URL structure no matter how complex it is, however, spending time on making your URLs as simple as possible make it easier for Google and for the users. Furthermore, visitors like easy to understand URLs rather than long cryptic random words (Figure 1). For users trying to remember your website or a particular page, it is always better to go for the most common and obvious URL name.  If the URL contains many parameters, they might leave off a part and break the link.

SEO Guide - E.g. of highlighted words in URL

Figure 2: Highlighted words in URL could tell the user what the page is about.

Furthermore, visitors like easy to understand URLs rather than ones with long, cryptic random words. For users trying to remember your website or a particular page, it is always better to go for the most common and obvious URL name.  If the URL contains many parameters, they might leave off a part and break the link.

Relevant words in the URL provides more information to search engines and users – so it is best if you keep your URLs short, simple and to the point.

URLs are displayed in search results

SEO Guide - User query matches the URL

Figure 3: The user types in a query and the URL matches the query making it rank higher.

URLs appear in the search result on Google. So having URLs relating to the page they are based on are more desirable and will help in ranking. Much like Titles and Meta Descriptions, URLs appear in bold if they appear in the user’s query (Figure 2).

 

Best Practices:

  • Use words in URLs – don’t use unnecessary parameters and sessions IDs.
  • Create a simple directory structure – don’t use directory names that have no relation to the content within them.
  • Provide one version of a URL to reach a document.

 

Make your site easier to navigate

 

Navigation is very important for search engines.

A simple, logical navigation helps users find what they want easily. It also helps search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important.

SEO Guide - E.g. of website navigation starting from the root page.

Figure 4: Example of website navigation starting from the root page.

 

Plan your navigation based on your homepage.

Homepage, or a “root page” is the most frequently visited page on the site and the start of navigation for many users. You should plan out how users will go from the homepage to other pages on your websites.(Figure 4) Navigation bars are the most common form of tool used to send a user from one page to another. You need to have substantial content to justify creating a whole new page. E.g. you may have products that need to be classified in certain categories, so you’ll create new pages each with the relevant products in them.

 

Ensure more convenience for users by using “breadcrumb lists”

Breadcrumb is a row of internal links at the top or bottom of the page that allows users to navigate back to a previous section or root page. Many breadcrumbs have the most general page (usually the root page) as the first, left-most link and list the more specific sections out to the right.

 

Prepare two sitemaps: one for users, one for search engines.

SEO Guide - E.g. of a sitemap and XML Sitemap

Figure 5: Example of a sitemap and XML Sitemap

A sitemap (lower-case) is a simple page on your website that displays the structure of your website. Visitors may visit this page if they are having problems finding pages on your site.

An XML Sitemap(upper-case) is what you submit to Googles Webmaster tools which makes it easier for Google to discover the pages on your site. Google has created the open source Sitemap Generator Script to help you create a Sitemap file. You can also learn more about Sitemaps through the Webmaster Help Center guide to Sitemaps.

Best Practices: 

  • Create a naturally flowing hierarchy
  • Use mostly text for navigation – don’t have a navigation based entirely on drop-down menus, images or animations.
  • Put an HTML site map page on your site and use an XML Sitemap file.

 

SEO Guide Summary

That is the end of SEO Basics 2017 Guide – Part 2.  Improving site structure not only increases your SEO it makes the website a lot more user-friendly. The two things are interrelated. Websites which are easy to navigate, easy to search for and find will automatically be preferred by search engines to those that are not. Regardless of the content on them. Hope you enjoyed the second part of our SEO Guide

Hope you enjoyed the second part of our SEO Guide

You can read Part 3 Here.

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