The architecture of your website—how you get from one page to the next and how they all relate to one another—significantly affects its performance in search engines.
In this article, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to creating an SEO-friendly information architecture, a template you can use for your website, and tools to help you get it done quickly.
Website information architecture template
for a software development company
What is website information architecture?
A website information architecture (IA) refers to how the site is set up, including the physical appearance but mainly its internal linking and how content is organized.
IA matters for SEO because it helps search engines understand your site’s content. An SEO-friendly information architecture places your content in a way that search engines can easily index it and rank it higher.
But what is the best way to structure your website?
Google’s John Mueller answered that question during a Google Webmaster Central Hangout.
Mueller asserts that a hierarchical site architecture provides key indicators of the meaning of your site’s pages and how they relate to one another. This information allows Google’s algorithm to determine which pages are most relevant to specific queries and rank them accordingly.
So, let’s examine how to create an information architecture for a website that is search engine friendly.
Creating an SEO-friendly website information architecture: a step-by-step guide
Building the proper website information architecture is essential for effective SEO. Here are the steps you can take to ensure that your site’s structure is optimized for search engines.
Step 1: Choose the right keywords
The first step is researching keywords and phrases users search for online. You can find these through keyword searches with tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, or Ubersuggest. Once you’ve identified some good keywords, you can use this information to plan your site’s sitemap.
Step 2: Categorize your pages
Focus on your content. You can list every important service, product, or piece of information you want your audience to know. Then, assign each keyword to a page location in your website structure within your planning template.
Write down all the main topics that your website will cover. These are your main categories, for example, “Web development services,” “Mobile development services,” etc.
For each of those main categories, write down all subcategories that belong in it, for example, “iOS applications development services,” “Android applications development services,” etc.
Keep your categories and subcategories balanced for a cleaner site structure. For example, if one category has ten subcategories and another only has two, you may want to restructure your content. Make sure your data is arranged logically and in an easy-to-use manner.
Step 3: Create a hierarchy
Website hierarchy is the structure of content on a website. It describes the relationships between different pages and sections.
Most websites are organized in an inverted pyramid: The homepage appears at the top of the site, followed by a handful of top-level service pages, with additional pages appearing below to provide more detail.
For example, Home > Software development services > Mobile development services > iOS applications development services / Android applications development services, etc.
Step 4: Build balanced page layouts
It’s essential to ensure that your content is arranged in a way that helps readers find what they’re looking for. When creating a page layout, use headings to organize content: H1 for the page title, H2 for subtitles, and so forth.
Step 5: Create your website’s URL structure
The hierarchy of your site should be reflected in your URLs. Also, it’s essential to use your primary keyword in the URL because search engines use the URL to understand what the page is about and determine its relevance to a user’s query.
For example, if this particular page is about Android applications development services, you could have a URL structure like this:
Step 6: Create an internal linking strategy
It is important for every page to link to at least one page and receive a link back from at least one. This is the basic internal linking structure. Make an effort to include internal links on every page – it creates a bridge from one part of your website to another.
Google takes your internal links as a signal of the importance and meaning of each of your web pages. To really enhance your SEO, it’s a good idea to build a topic cluster structure by organizing your content into sections based around related topics.
Ways website information architecture affects SEO
Search engines look at the structure of your website to determine how it should be indexed and ranked; that’s why it’s so important to keep this in mind when building a site from scratch.
Crawlability refers to a search engine’s ability to crawl through the website’s content to figure out what your website is all about. Part of this process is navigating through pages and particular topics to understand the website as a whole. Good crawlability ensures that there are no dead-ends in a website’s architecture.
Effective structure replicates logic across your whole website. It is important to submit an XML sitemap containing all the most important URLs you want to rank for to search engines.
It should take no more than three clicks to find any given page on your website. You can guide visitors through without them even consciously knowing. Make sure your links are meaningful by creating varying levels of value, trustworthiness, and topic relevance.
Ensure your website’s most important content is featured prominently and written well well. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not that simple. You can have the best-looking site, great graphics, and a fantastic layout—but if your content isn’t up to par, it will be difficult to build trust with your visitors.
Navigation & user experience
A bad user experience can hurt your SEO. Google interprets how searchers interact with a website for future search results. If your site is confusing or difficult to navigate, Google will rank it lower than others that provide a better user experience.
While building a website, it is essential to ensure that it is optimized for mobile viewers. Mobile-first indexing means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.
Speed & performance
If your website build does not favor a fast user experience, your search engine optimization will suffer. Slow site speeds, unresponsive pages, and anything that “takes time” for the user damages all the hard work that went into making your site.
Best website information architecture tools
Here are some of the best information architecture tools available:
- Dyno Mapper allows you to create, customize, edit, and share your interactive sitemaps.
- Octopus.do is a lightning-fast visual sitemap builder and website planner with lo-fi wireframes.
- Creately helps design sitemaps, web flows, link maps, website navigation diagrams, and more.
- Moqups gives you access to its built-in library to help you to create a sitemap, workflow, and storyboard diagrams.
How you organize your content can significantly affect how much time users spend reading certain pages and the rate at which they return to your website.
Ultimately, SEO-friendly website information architecture is all about creating an organized and logically structured website that is easy to navigate, balancing the needs of both visitors and search engines.
If you have any questions about creating an information architecture for your website, I’ll be happy to discuss them with you further.