If you take your SEO and users seriously, you’ll be working on a kick-ass site structure. But, setting up a decent site structure can be challenging. Maintaining a decent site structure when your site is growing, is even harder. With all these new pages on your site, it’s easy to overlook something or make a mistake in your structure. In this post, I will share 6 common site structure mistakes and how to avoid them!
1. Hiding your cornerstones
Your most important articles, which are your cornerstones, should not be hidden away. Cornerstone articles are the articles that you’re most proud of; that most clearly reflect the mission and topics of your website. But some people forget to link to these articles and that’s definitely a site structure mistake you don’t want to make. If an article receives no or only a few internal links, search engines will have a more difficult time finding it and valuing it (as search engines follow links). Therefore, Google will regard these articles as less important, and rank them accordingly.
Solution: link to your cornerstones
First of all, make sure to link to your cornerstone articles. This means mentioning them in your other blog posts that are related to this topic. Our internal linking tool can help you by suggesting these cornerstones (and other relevant links) while you’re writing.
Also, make sure these cornerstone articles are visible and easy to find for your site visitors. Ideally, you should be able to navigate to your cornerstone articles in just one or two clicks from the homepage.
2. Not using breadcrumbs
Although they’re important for user experience and SEO, some people don’t use breadcrumbs on their site. Which is another mistake when it comes to site structure. Because breadcrumbs show how a page fits into the structure of your site and allow users to easily navigate your site. Also, breadcrumbs help search engines determine the structure of your site.
Solution: add those breadcrumbs
There are a few ways you can add breadcrumbs to your site. If you use WordPress, you can use a breadcrumb plugin or you can let Yoast SEO add them for you! Our plugin handles everything necessary to add your breadcrumbs to your site and to get them ready for Google.
3. Huge categories
As a rule of thumb, your categories should be relatively similar in size. But, what tends to happen is that people write about one subject way more often than other subjects. Without noticing it. As a result, one category can slowly grow much larger than other categories. When this happens, your site becomes unbalanced. Plus, you’ll have a harder time ranking with blog posts when they’re part of a very large category.
Solution: split categories
When you realize one of your categories is getting much bigger than the rest, split it in two (or three). To keep categories from becoming too big, make sure to check the size of your categories every now and then. Especially if you write a lot of blog posts. Read more about how to add and maintain categories on your site.
4. Using too many tags
Be mindful of the tags you create and make sure to tag your posts properly. Some people want to make tags very specific. But if every post receives one or multiple new unique tag(s), you’re overdoing it. You’re not adding structure, because posts don’t become grouped or linked. So, think about the tags you create and make sure more than one of your current (or future) posts will relate to this tag.
Solution: use tags in moderation
This site structure mistake is easily fixed. Make sure that tags are used more than once or twice, and that tags group articles together that really belong together. You should also ensure that visitors can find the tags somewhere, preferably at the bottom of your article. Tags are useful for your visitors (and not just for Google) to read more about the same topic.
Read more: Using category and tag pages for SEO »
5. Not visualizing your site structure
A final site structure mistake people make is forgetting to visualize their site’s structure. Visitors want to be able to find stuff on your website with ease. The main categories of your blog should all have a place in the menu on your homepage. But don’t create too many categories, or your menu will get cluttered. A menu should give a clear overview and reflect the structure of your site. Ideally, the menu helps visitors understand how your website is structured.
Solution: optimize your menu and think about UX
To create a good and clear overview of your site, spend some time on optimizing your menu. Although the perfect menu depends on your site, keep in mind which pages you definitely want to add to your menu and make sure not to add too many others. This post on optimizing your site menu for users and SEO will help you with this. Also, make sure to think about what your visitors are looking for and how you can help them navigate through your site. By thinking about User eXperience (UX), creating a clear site structure for your users becomes much easier.
Keep reading: Our blog posts on User eXperience »
6. Not linking to your underlying pages
A clean and simple menu is great for user experience but does pose the problem of not being able to directly link users to all your pages. That’s where hierarchical post types come in. These post types allow you to bring different levels in your pages, with a parent page on top, followed by child pages underneath and possibly even grandchild pages under that. However, it is important to show this structure to your users by linking to these child pages. Something a lot of people forget to do!
Solution: link to child pages and sibling pages
Link to your underlying child pages from a parent page to help users navigate your site. But also, link between child pages of the same parent page as they’re related to each other. This doesn’t just show users the connection between your content, it also helps search engines understand these connections and what entities you’re talking about. So, make sure to link between these hierarchical pages. This becomes super easy with the new internal linking blocks in Yoast SEO Premium.
Site structure mistakes: fix them!
Site structure is an essential aspect of any proper SEO strategy. The structure of your website shows Google what articles and pages are most important. With your site’s structure, you can influence which articles will rank highest in the search engines. But it also helps your users navigate the different pages on your site. So, it’s important to do it right. Especially when you add a lot of content, it’s important to keep an eye on the structure of your site and any possible mistakes or issues that might arise. Try to stay on top! And while you’re at it, check for other common SEO mistakes as well.
Did we overlook a site structure mistake that you’ve encountered more than once? Feel free to share it with us in the comments!
Keep on reading: Site structure: the ultimate guide »