Imagine this – you’re in your local Coles looking for a new fancy cereal that’s on offer (they did a fantastic job with the TV commercial to peak your interest). You search high and low and begrudgingly look for an assistant. Times ticking on and you’re in a rush. You pick the next best thing or even worse - choose nothing - and leave. Either way it’s a frustrating scenario and you aren’t satisfied; you were sold on the deal and are left disappointed.  


How a store is organised is a fine balance between logical categorisation, what is in high demand and what product the retailer wants to push. The same goes for how a website’s navigation is organised. We call this a site’s information architecture, and both your customers and search engines rely on this to discover and prioritise what you are selling.   
 

Your Global Navigation Is Your Store Front 


Search engines use links to traverse the web and your website, using them to understand the relationship between brands and web pages to determine a site’s topical relevancy and authority.  

In a website, not all internal links are treated equally. Your universal, or global, navigation is your store front to both customers and Google.  

Top navigation, or header navigation, is king and should be the blueprint of your site’s primary IA.  

Footer navigation links act as reinforcement to these core primary pages and a catch-all for other secondary pages that still warrant access across the entire website.  

Keeping a consistent anchor text with the header navigation and prioritising pages in high demand and/or high value to the business is key. Organising your most important categories in your header navigation not only helps customers quickly find what they need, but also helps them discover your brand when searching through Google.  As your global navigation is accessible across every page on the website, including pages in this menu means you are effectively up weighting their importance within the site’s architecture and increasing their likelihood of being frequently crawled. Choosing keyword-optimised anchor text for these menu links helps Google to determine the corresponding strength of your non-brand rankings and subsequent organic revenue.  


Body Links: The Next Best Thing 


In-body links are the next in line when it comes to internal link value – for both customers and search engines. They help to form additional connections between content to form authoritative clusters, improving site UX by funnelling customers along the purchase journey and helping to provide them with the information they need to confidently make a purchase decision. They also communicate to search engines which pages should be prioritised, improving rankings for both competitive head term and long-tail phrases. Choosing a consistent anchor text for inlinks to a page is vital in influencing which keywords the destination page ranks.  
 

Website Architecture Best Practice 

 

1. Organise products within a logical hierarchy, starting with the lead category, sub-category and then the product detail page. Inform which pages are to be static and search-facing (indexable) based on search demand. Don’t be tempted to open-up all faceted navigation filters to Google as this can cause site bloat, consume crawl budget, and adversely impact page indexation. 

2. Prioritise product placement in the header menu based on demand, for both sales and search. Make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for by elevating core products to the most prominent positions in the menu and test engagement with heatmap tracking to make sure the labelling resonates. Mega-menus might work for marketplaces and large multi-category ecommerce stores but may be confusing and cluttered for smaller retailers with a more limited range. 

3. Use keyword research to inform all anchor text within your site architecture. 

4. Respond to emerging demand by building new targeted categories, for example a WFH section would work well for an office supplies retailer. 

5. Leverage category copy at the top of the page to facilitate deep-linking to relevant sub-categories, using strategically consistent anchor text.  

6. Structure product URLs to reflect multi-categorisation whilst avoiding content duplication. It’s tempting to structure product URLs to reflect the site hierarchy, after all this reflects the click-journey and is also descriptive for search engines. However, when products are organised across multiple categories, this creates a scalable duplication and cannibalisation problem that eats into crawl budget and is determinantal to rankings. Standardising product URLs to strip-out predecessor categories means products can be flexibly merchandised across multiple category and sub-category pages without any issues.  

7. Identify cornerstone content and corresponding keywords that you want to rank. Build body links using these keywords as anchor text to these pillar pages to form topically relevant clusters. In turn, this will build the ranking weight of the destination page for these phrases. 

8. Contextually cross-link between editorial content to improve content discovery, for both bots and buyers. 

9. Look for scalable linking opportunities within common website modules, for example “Related Posts” or case study features. This automatically builds keyword-optimised inlinks when modules are added to pages. 
 

In Action: Revium Boosts Indexation Rate & Organic Traffic for NeedABreak.com  


NeedABreak.com is the editorial hub for Choice Hotels’ APAC operation, providing travel inspiration for weekend trips, staycations and interstate adventures. The website had a plethora of technical SEO issues inherent with “off-the-shelf” WordPress websites, limiting crawlability, indexation and subsequent organic rankings.  

Issues included: 

  • Under-developed site architecture causing content indexation issues, limited internal linking and limited content discovery due to orphaned pages (a JavaScript powered “load more” button was often the only way to access articles)  
  • Duplicate content often meaning pages were cannibalising and diluting the value of each other, for example indexable tags vs. categories

These issues were fixed by: 

  • Improving the site architecture by implementing a comprehensive, holistic internal linking. strategy. We conducted keyword research to inform keyword-rich anchor text that not only improved the volume of internal links to previously devalued pages but also leveraged high authority pages to improve overall site rankings
  • Removing tag pages from Google Search using a “noindex” directive to eliminate duplication. 
  • Improving overall indexation through weekly Google Search Console / Screaming Frog  
  • Troubleshooting of dead pages and other error status codes 


Learn more about our SEO partnership with NeedABreak.com 
 

Summary  


When designing your site architecture, start with a logical page hierarchy, starting from the homepage and ending with product pages. Prioritise core categories in the global header menu, those that you want customers and Google to pay attention to. Use the footer navigation as a secondary catch-all to reiterate focus categories whilst capturing secondary pages. Leverage body links to further develop topical relevancy through building content clusters, channelling users and Google to high value pages. Use keyword research to inform all anchor text within your site architecture.  

Interested in growing your organic revenue through Google Search? See what our SEO specialists can do.   

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