Effective Website Architecture Practices You Should Know

By Pradeep Dabas

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Website architecture refers to how your website is structured and organized. It helps search engine crawlers and your visitors to easily find what they’re looking for on your website. Site architecture covers everything related to your website, from the overall layout and website design to every other tiny website development detail that often gets overlooked. It enables you to have an intuitive website that offers a pleasant user experience.

Why is Website Architecture Important?

Having a sound site architecture enhances your website visitors’ experience. It enables them to find information on your website seamlessly. A positive user experience also improves your search engine ranking. This is because visitors will spend more time on your ecom website and therefore reduce the bounce rate. Other sites will also want to link to your web pages as well. Not to mention that a good site architecture makes it easy for search engines to crawl your website effectively.

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With a good site architecture, you’ll be able to do the following:

  • Clearly communicate your products and services to your website visitors
  • Easily link your site to your social media platforms
  • Make it easy for your visitors to find your contact information
  • Encourage visitors to sign up for your email subscription list

How your site is structured is key to increasing your lead generation and rates of conversion. When visitors find it easy to use your website, they’re likely to make purchases from you instead of your competitors. 

Furthermore, good website development prevents you from competing against yourself for the search engines’ attention. Without a decent site structure, your web pages will be competing against themselves for search engine rankings. This happens especially for your pages or posts that cover the same topic. For example, this post and this other one both cover search engine optimization (SEO). But each covers a different aspect of SEO. Without a good site structure, it would be impossible for search engines to tell which one is more important for their respective aspects. It’s up to you to ensure that search engines can tell which post is more important by ensuring you have a good site structure.

Website Architecture Best Practices

When you’re just starting out, you’ll have a simple website with a few pages that are easy to organize. But the website becomes bigger, more complicated, and unorganized as your business grows.  It’s important to have everything well-organized early on so you won’t have to worry about your business’s scalability later on. These tips can help you to get started on organizing your site’s architecture:

1. Have a plan

It’s important to first create an organization plan for your website. This stage can either be simple or complicated depending on the number of pages your website has. But you should keep your site’s hierarchy simple and straightforward regardless of the number of pages it has. This will also help with structuring your website’s URL.

2. Make use of 301 redirects

When creating a site hierarchy, it’s likely you’ll have to rearrange your website to fit the new hierarchy. You may have to move some pages to new URLs. When you change the URL on any page, ensure that you use a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect lets search engines know that the new URL belongs to the same page that had already built authority. It helps you to avoid losing the link authority built from the old URL. It also helps your visitors to find the pages they’re looking for instead of getting an error page. You want to avoid broken links that sour the user experience on your website.

3. Reduce the number of clicks between pages

Having a good website hierarchy helps you to create a site menu. This ensures that visitors can easily navigate your website without losing sight of the other pages they’d like to navigate to. The menu should be on every page of the website. It makes it easy for users to access the primary categories and relevant sub categories without having to click around a lot or use the back button. Visitors can therefore access every page on your website within three clicks. There’s no better way for you to improve the user experience on your website than by minimizing the number of clicks between pages. 

4. Outline your primary categories

After creating your plan, you should define your primary categories. The categories should clearly describe what your different pages and products are besides being easy to understand for users. For example, if the website is for a bookstore, you can have categories for Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s Books, Self-Help, and other common genres. This clearly describes your products in a way that’s easy for users to find what they’re looking for. It provides value to your website visitors. When outlining your primary categories, it’s advisable to have in mind how your visitors search and browse your website.

5. Outline your subcategories

In some cases, you might have to include subcategories. Not all websites need subcategories after the primary category. If you have to, then you should also define your subcategories with the users in mind just like when doing the main categories. For example, you can have Memoirs and Autobiography subcategories under the Non-Fiction category. 

6. Leverage internal linking

Internal links are an aspect of SEO. They help search engines to index your website and understand how the different pages on your website are related. By using anchor texts for internal linking, you’re able to direct search engines on the specific keywords they should associate the page with. 

But internal linking isn’t only intended to give direction to search engines. It’s also useful for your site visitors. Internal links help you to guide your visitors from one page to another and increase the traffic on other related pages. If your visitors find a particular page helpful, they’re likely to trust the links on that page to direct them to additional relevant information. Internal linking also helps to boost the authority of the other pages as well. However, it’s quite easy to go overboard with internal linking. It should only be done when it offers value and relevance to visitors.. 

7. Plan your content

Lastly, your website will need content. High-quality content that’s relevant to your visitors. Content doesn’t only refer to blog posts but also videos, imagery, and other informational text. You should plan for all these when structuring your website. Some of the factors to consider when planning your content include:

  • The most suitable web design for your current content and the ones you’re planning to develop
  • How your content can help your visitors make informed purchasing decisions
  • How your site’s structure will guide visitors to the relevant content

Once you’ve planned your content, it becomes easier to structure your website and save time. 

Additionally, your website should support secure browsing and be optimized for mobile devices. These tips can help you to get started on implementing an optimal website architecture for your website. But that’s just the beginning, you’ll need to maintain the architecture all through. That’s why it’s important to regularly review and update your website

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