Website Architecture for SEO
Is the Architecture of your Website Search Engine Friendly?
One of the most overlooked items in SEO is your website architecture. If you don’t do it the right way from the beginning it can be a major undertaking to make your site search engine friendly later on, just as it would be in rewiring or replumbing your home.
Web designers may not fully understand modern SEO techniques, but are often tasked with the job of developing the sites architecture. Therefore when the site is complete, it maybe a graphically appealing, however is very SEO and visitor unfriendly.
A great example of a site that falls into the “Pretty but sucks to the human and SEO robot visitors” is Richard Branson’s Moroccan Retreat, the Kasbah Tamadot.
Is Your Website’s Architecture Friendly to your Human Readers?
One of our first most important factors in developing a website is making sure that your navigation is friendly to your human audience. The entire focus of this website is photographs of their bedrooms, the dining area and things to do.
Looks gorgeous and a fun place to visit, however if you do decide to book a reservation you will have to hunt for a small icon that is tucked away on the bottom right side of the prices page labeled “enquire online”.
Pressing this will open a new window where you’re asked to complete and submit a form with over 13 questions. But if you look closely you will see a second link with a telephone headset and if you click on that another small window will open with their UK, South Africa, and US telephone numbers.
It took me a total of ten minutes going through their website just to find this one link to contact them to make a reservation.
How long will your visitors stick around on your website to find what they want?
Research in Website usability testing has shown if your visitors cannot find the information they want in under 3 clicks, 4 out of 5 of them will leave your website and go somewhere else.
Consider Usability Testing
To improve the website usability of your website to your human audience consider recruiting 5 representative users of your website and conduct a 30 to 60 minute website usability test with each of them.
Start them of by having them visit your home page and have a list of prepared questions such as:
- What is your first impression?
- Do you trust the website?
- What type of website is this?
- Who could use the website?
- How would you navigate the website to find the information you would be interested in?
Then give the user a task, such as trying to locate a particular product or in the case of the hotel website, book a reservation or find a telephone number or address.
Encourage your users to speak out loud as they navigate your website. As the user navigates your website observe the path that they take and document it.
Also give your users free time to explore your website and then follow-up by asking questions such as:
- What area of the website interested you the most?
- What area of the website did you find most frustrating?
- What information would you be interested in finding that you did not find?
The results from these tests should provide you with a clear path on how you can make improvements and modify your website and once you do complete these changes, please remember to retest, using a different set of users.
Is Your Website’s Architecture Friendly to the Search Engines?
Your second consideration should be how search engine friendly your website is to the search engines.
In the case of Kasbah Tamadot Resort website, it is EXTREMELY SEO UNFRIENDLY.
First off the entire website was developed using flash. Although Google is getting better at understanding flash if it is coded properly, I would not recommend using flash in building out an entire website as it is very 2004 and not supported by mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads.
One great way to test how SEO friendly your website is, is to use Google’s Keyword tool to scan your website to see if it can understand what your website is all about.
We did use this tool on Richard Branson’s hotel website and the only keyword Google recognized on the website was Necker Belle which is the name of Richard Branson’s luxury sailing yacht.
In our upcoming SEO video training series we will go into great detail on how to optimize your website architecture for the search engines, however here are a few simple SEO tips that you can put into motion right now:
- Use your keyword research to identify what your visitors are most interested in and create the categories for your website accordingly
- Brainstorm your sub-categories appropriately, linking them under the appropriate subcategories
- Document in advance what keywords you’re targeting using a keyword phrase to page map
- Optimize only one page per keyword, each page should have its own focus
- Use your keywords in your URL and page names
In our next segment on your free SEO Roadmap video training series we will review why quality HTML coding is important to your human visor’s and to the search engines and how to develop high quality search engine friendly coding.
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