Web developers often perceive a site’s architecture from a completely different perspective than search engine optimization specialists. Developers tend to see an information structure in the context of content management systems and databases. SEO professionals consider a site’s architecture from the point of view of the search engine spiders’ ability to crawl and index the pages.
Because search engine visibility through higher rankings is such an important element in the success of a website, the site’s architecture must be designed around basic SEO principles. This is not to suggest that web developers’ penchant toward databases is ill-conceived. Rather, it should be molded to fit a broader SEO strategy.
Below, we’ll explain the fundamentals of SEO-friendly site architecture and why they are essential to achieving higher search engine positions. We’ll also take a closer look at usability and findability in the context of modeling a site’s structural design around search engine spider behavior. Lastly, we’ll describe the value of an SEO audit and the core SEO services that can thrust a site to the top search positions for its industry.
Basics of SEO-Friendly Site Architecture
If a site is designed around an architecture that observes basic SEO principles, it is more likely to rank well for its chosen keywords. This is partly due to the ease with which search engine spiders can perform their job while visiting the site. Spiders have two main responsibilities: fetch and parse pages for inclusion in their database. The architecture of a site plays a key role in the spiders’ ability to perform these functions. As a result, it has an enormous influence on the success of the SEO services deployed to improve the site’s rankings.
In order for pages to rank well in the search engines, spiders must first be able to find and access them. There are a number of ways to approach this and each should be integrated into your site’s architecture. Smaller sites can follow a flat structure with their pages built directly off the root. Larger sites with hundreds of pages should use keyword rich categories to group similar content in dynamically generated folders. Long ago, search engine algorithms considered pages that were directly off the root to be more valuable than category pages. That’s not the case today; other factors have a far greater ranking influence.
Internal linking is also important. This can include in-content links, footer links, and breadcrumbs that instantly inform the user where they are within the site’s architecture. These links allow spiders to easily fetch and parse pages for indexing, both prerequisites for an effective SEO campaign. This is one of the many areas that a comprehensive SEO audit will investigate.
Usability and Findability: Key Elements Of SEO Site Architecture
As important as spider crawlability is, so too, is a site’s usability and the ease with which users find information. Usability and findability are terms that are often used inaccurately when describing the information structure of a site. At a basic level, both terms refer to a person’s ability to use a site intuitively. This can include reading articles, watching videos, searching a database, and similar activities.
There are two reasons why usability and findability play a role in supporting the SEO services that are used to improve search engine rankings. First, spiders model user behavior. The easier it is for users to navigate a site, the easier it is for spiders to do the same. Second, intuitive usability encourages visitors to spend more time on a site. Google uses the duration of a visit as one of many algorithmic parameters for ranking purposes.
How an SEO Audit Uncovers Ranking Opportunities
An SEO audit investigates the factors that are helping and hampering your site’s ability to rank competitively in the search engines. It begins with an examination of your site’s titles, descriptions, meta tags, and internal linking structure. It analyzes your site’s information architecture as well as the underlying code, url structure, navigational elements, geographic location, server response codes and content management system. An SEO audit will assess the competition within your industry for your chosen keywords to determine the inbound link profile and authority needed to control the top positions.
The purpose of an SEO audit is multifold. It identifies opportunities to achieve higher rankings and exposure. It also isolates internal factors that are causing your site’s rankings to suffer. It uncovers external influences that can either help or damage your site’s ability to rank. Then, it prioritizes a set of actions based upon the most significant factors identified. Companies can use an SEO audit to take action on the high-priority items to improve their SEO efforts.
Critical SEO Services That Improve Search Positions
Search engine optimization is a refined blend of multiple tactics that converge to gradually improve your website’s position in the organic listings. Some SEO services have a larger influence on your site’s positioning than others. For example, an analysis of your site’s architecture is important to ensure spiders can locate, fetch and parse all pages easily. Competitive analysis should be performed to identify key players within your space who control your target positions in the organic listings.
On-page and off-page SEO services are both vital. On-page tactics include optimized tags, streamlined code, internal linking structure, and copywriting laced with thematic keywords. Off-page tactics focus upon inbound links from a wide range of thematically-related sites.
By using a comprehensive SEO audit to identify high-priority areas in which to take action, your company can move forward with confidence. The audit will highlight SEO services that deserve immediate attention. While leapfrogging over your competition begins with optimizing your site’s architecture, it is only the beginning to dominate your chosen keywords.
Sara Rankin writes for Triangle Direct Media, a new media marketing firm offering a variety of SEO services http://www.triangledirectmedia.com/seo.htm, including SEO audit http://www.triangledirectmedia.com/seo-audit.htm analysis.