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Improve SEO and website navigation with an effective tree structure

Published on April 21, 2023

Summary

  1. Improve website navigation and visitor engagement
  2. The importance of internal meshing for smooth navigation
  3. Boost organic traffic with an optimized tree structure
  4. How to build a good tree structure for your website?
  5. Include keywords in URLs to optimize SEO
  6. How do you generate SEO-efficient URLs?
  7. The importance of a sitemap for SEO
  8. What you need to know for a successful website tree structure

A website is made up of sections (in the menu), pages and sub-pages, which need to be organized in a logical and coherent way. Structure should be considered at the design stage, or when redesigning an existing site. A successful tree structure facilitates navigation and enables web users to quickly find the information they're looking for. It also contributes to the site's natural referencing by prioritizing pages, ideas and themes according to their level of importance. For Google (and other search engines), the tree structure of a website helps to understand its overall content.

Improve website navigation and visitor engagement

Think about your visitors To keep them coming back for as long as possible, it's important to make your website pleasant to read. The general appearance, design, choice of colors, fonts and illustrations contribute directly to a good User Experience (UX). and page structure are just as important in ensuring smooth, pleasant navigation; if a visitor has trouble finding the information he's looking for, he'll leave.

Whatever the number of pages on a website, you need to find a thematic organization that naturally leads visitors to the information they're looking for, inviting them to convert: make a purchase or fill in a contact form, for example. The higher up the hierarchy you go, the more precise you become; this pyramid structure is akin to a conversion funnel.

The importance of internal meshing for smooth navigation

To make navigation even smoother and keep visitors coming back for as long as possible, we recommend integrating Call-To-Action(CTA) links on every page. These are links, often in the form of buttons, which suggest reading other related articles more or less directly linked to the current page. CTAs can also point to a special offer page, a news item or a contact form to generate leads.

On a travel blog for example, the home page will be our Level 1. We can imagine several Levels 2 in the navigation menu: Destinations, Travel advice, About us In the "Destinations" page, we'll include several Levels 3: France, Italy, Spain. Finally, in our Italy, we'll finish with several Level 4 pages: Florence, Rome, Venice... The article referring to the city of " Rome" can include a CTA button to another Italian city, and so on. This is called internal linking.

Effective internal linking also helps to reduce the bounce rate. The integration of CTA buttons invites lost visitors to consult an alternative page where they may find what they're looking for.

Breadcrumbs are generally placed in the header of pages, allowing visitors to find their way through the tree structure: Home | Level1 | Level2 | ... To return to the previous level, simply click on the category of your choice. The breadcrumb is an important element, since it materializes the structure of a website as you navigate.

Boost organic traffic with an optimized tree structure

Alongside the ease of navigation provided by a good structure, a tree structure enables Google and all search engines to categorize information, prioritize it and better understand content.

From an SEO point of view, internal linking helps Google to understand the theme of the site and the relevance of the pages. Thanks to a coherent structure, search engines can prioritize pages according to their importance and associate them with the lexical field of lower-level pages (mother pages). In our example, the page dedicated to the city of " Rome" (level 4) could thus be associated with " Italy" (level 3) and " Destinations" (level 2) so as to appear in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) with various queries such as " Best destination in Italy", "travel to Italy", "visit Rome" or "travel to Rome".

A structured hierarchy sends out a positive message to search engines, which consider the information to be processed in a complete and thoughtful way. A site with an effective tree structure has a higher trust index (PageRank) and benefits from better positioning in Google's ranking system.

How to build a good tree structure for your website?

Depending on the site's content and theme, the first step is to define the heading names. Relevant keywords should be used for each item in the navigation menu. Even today, many blog sections are identified by the simple word "Blog", when in fact they are not. Blog", whereas a more explicit title such as " Conseils aux voyageurs" would be so much more effective (to use our example cited above). The same applies to all the sub-headings of level 3 (and higher) in which the pages will be classified.

Include keywords in URLs to optimize SEO

In order to inform Google about the content of a page, you need to include keywords in the slug, the set of words that make up the URL of a page. Relevant addressing contributes to the successful referencing of a page. The URL is the first piece of information that Google will be able to analyze to identify the content of a page.

Rather than structuring a page's URL in this way: https://www.votresite.com/article-042024/, we recommend integrating relevant keywords directly related to its content: https://www.votresite.com/carnet-de-voyage/vacances-italie/decouvrir-rome/

How do you generate SEO-efficient URLs?

We strongly advise you not to use special characters (punctuation, symbols, letters with accents) in URLs. Replace spaces with hyphens " to separate words. - I>" to separate words, and remove all unnecessary linking words and apostrophes. Opt for short, descriptive URLs typed in lowercase letters. Ideally, the slug should include 3 or 4 keywords and a maximum of 60 characters.

Avoid using a date in a page address to guarantee a certain stability in URLs. Content can be updated, added to or even "recycled" to reflect more recent news. In the event of a change in addressing, the page loses the indexing of its content on Google, (it starts from scratch) and all its referencing history.

The importance of a sitemap for SEO

Often accessible via a discreet link in the footer, the sitemap presents a hierarchical view of the entire content of the website. It provides visitors and search engines with a direct link to all the sections and all the pages that make up the website.

To be even more effective, generate a sitemap.xml file and place it at the root of the server. Like a directory, it contains a complete list of all the internal URLs of a site, along with the creation and update date of each page, to help Google's crawlers crawl it intelligently. Example of the structure of a sitemap.xml file:

Structure d'un fichier Sitemap.xml
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
  <url>
    <loc>https://www.domaine.com/</loc>
    <lastmod>2023-04-20</lastmod>
    <priority>1.00</priority>
  </url>
  <url
    <loc>https://domaine.com/niveau1/</loc>
    <lastmod>2023-04-14</lastmod>
    <priority>0.90</priority>
  </url>
  <url>
    <loc>https://domaine.com/niveau-1/article-1/</loc>
    <lastmod>2023-04-19</lastmod>
    <priority>0.80</priority>
  </url>
  <url>
    <loc>https://domaine.com/niveau-1/article-2/</loc>
    <lastmod>2023-04-17</lastmod>
    <priority>0.80</priority>
  </url>
  ...
</urlset>

What you need to know for a successful website tree structure

The structure of a website is important for several reasons: it improves navigation for users, provides quality PageRank and contributes to the natural referencing of pages. To be effective, a site's tree structure is based on 5 criteria:

  • Logical and coherent organization
  • A tiered structure to prioritize pages and themes
  • The use of relevant keywords in URLs.
  • Setting up an efficient internal network.
  • The implementation of a complete site plan.
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