Site Architecture Best Practices
From Visitor to Client or Customer
Site layout is important from both an SEO perspective and a usability perspective. You want a website to answer questions and provide useful information with the hope of converting a page visitor into a customer or client. A website page should guide a visitor through the process of answering a question, providing additional information, and then urging the visitor to take an action through either a phone call, contact us message, subscription, or a social media action (“like,” “share,” or “follow”). All business websites have a purpose, and that purpose is to attract clients or customers. The better a website is optimized, the more visitors it gets, and therefore the more clients or customers the business gets.
SEO Layout 101
The example below shows a best practices site architecture for a law firm with five practice areas. This layout provides 30 distinct practice area landing pages. If the firm’s main practice area is criminal law, then each subpage would be dedicated to a different type of criminal charge. This layout is important for both keyword SEO and usability reasons. If a visitor can find answers to their specific legal problem on a landing page, their conversion likelihood is increased. By having a logical information structure starting with general information and leading down to more specific information pages, a website provides a clear road map for the visitor to follow on their path to conversion.
Search engines like websites with a clear hierarchy and a reasonable number of hypertext links. Users are more likely to click a hyperlink in the body of the text than in a menu or sub-menu. An easy-to-use internal linking structure benefits users because it provides easy access to more information that will answer their questions. Search engines evaluate internal links to judge the: 1. page depth 2. quantity of the internal link, and 3. quality of the internal link.
Search engines count how many clicks it takes to reach a specific landing page. The less clicks it takes, the more relevant the search engines deem that page is. The quantity of the links matter because the more internal links that each page gets, the higher the value a search engine assigns to that page. This does not mean you should link every page to every page, though, because search engines have been able to pick up on such subtle tricks for years. Also, search engines look to the quality of the internal link. Keyword anchor text should link to a related page and, ideally, be higher up on a page. Search engines deem hyperlinks at the top of a page to be more valuable than a link further down a page.
- Initial meeting to talk about website strategy and purpose
- Best practices research based on website strategy and competition
- Design website layout, submit for approval
- Go over keyword strategy and internal linking strategy
- Start planning Content Strategy