One of the first questions I ask potential clients before providing a quote is whether they will plan a website structure and have a sitemap or content plan ready for the project, which usually leads to this question:
“I’m not sure how to structure the pages- should I put all of the services on the same page, or is it better to create separate pages for each service?”
In this blog, I share some things to consider when you plan a website structure so that you end up with a user-friendly website that’s also optimised for more organic Google traffic.
That’s right- you CAN please both Google and humans!
Clever tips to plan a website structure (that keeps everyone happy)
Why should you plan a website structure?
Website structure determines how easy or difficult it is for people to navigate a website. We want to give people a great user experience as this leads to a better conversion rate (and more dollars!).
Google’s bots also rely on website structure when it crawls a website. A poorly structured website means that Google’s bots may not easily crawl and index the entire website.
Finally, “link juice” from backlinks is shared throughout a website via a good website structure and internal links. Get it wrong and pages may miss link juice, resulting in poor rankings in Google and zero traffic.
Create a draft visual sitemap
When you plan a website structure, start with creating a website visual sitemap, much like an organisational chart showing all the planned pages of a website and where they fit in.
Don’t worry if you’re not 100% sure this will be the final structure! Keyword research and user behaviour planning will help you finalise the sitemap.
The above diagram shows a typical visual sitemap for a website with a home page that is linked to its main pages: marketing services, graphic design services, blogs, about us and contact us.
Its two main service pages have sub-pages beneath them, for each of the specific services they provide.
When a website visitor lands on the home page, they are no more than two clicks away from any page on the website.
This is important because Google prefers website with a shallow structure. According to this article, website users should be able to reach any page on a website in less than 3 clicks from the home page.
Do keyword research
When I make decisions for clients, I always use data to back up my decisions.
Numbers don’t lie!
It’s ok if you don’t have a finalised website structure before doing keyword research, because the research will uncover data that will either confirm that you’ve created the right structure, or will tell you that you need to go back to the drawing board.
Keyword research tells you what keywords people are searching for, and how specific their queries are. If most of the keyword queries used are broad, then a simple service page covering all services could be enough.
But if people are searching for very specific services, then they’re only interested in these specific services. Service specific pages could offer a better user experience for these people.
Perform competitors analysis
Grab your magnifying glass and inspect what your competitors are doing!
It’s a good idea to check the top 3 results in Google for the main keywords you’re targeting, to see how these websites are structured. I recommend using a tool like Serpstat to find out which keywords the competitor’s different pages are ranking for.
If the competitor doesn’t have service-specific pages, then find out what keywords their service landing page is ranking for.
If the page isn’t ranking for service-specific, long tail keywords, then this tells you that having multiple services on the same page won’t attract people who search for specific services.
In other words, hello opportunity!
Predict user behaviour
When it comes to website structure, we not only want to think from an SEO perspective but also a user perspective. Predicting how users will behave on a website lets you know whether the draft sitemap you’ve created is on the right track or whether you need to make changes.
Think about the different types of people who will visit the website. Some will come via Google, others will arrive via social media, email marketing or online ads.
Those that come via Google will have typed a keyword query into search- either a broad query such as “marketing consultant” or something more specific such as “business logo designer near me”.
The type of keyword gives us an insight into potential behaviours and where in the buying cycle the person is. This then helps us structure the website pages.
For example, having sub-pages is great for targeting specific, long tail queries that people search for in Google. The sub-page will rank in Google, and when the person clicks it, they’ll be sent straight to the sub-page.
However, those who search broad keywords prefer a broad page that covers the main ideas and topics. For example, someone searching for “marketing consultant” prefers a page with broad information about all the services available, rather than having to visit every sub-page that covers only one specific service.
How can we help those who search using broader keyword queries?
Having a main page for all of your services is a great way to help those who don’t quite know what service they want from you.
It’s like a restaurant menu- while the menu may have different sections, everything is on the same menu so that you can easily see everything on offer before deciding if you want a pasta dish or a pizza.
Having one main service page is easier than expecting people to click on different pages on a website- how confusing and frustrating this would be! (If I had to do this, I’d leave the site asap and go find a competitor!).
A main service page with different sections or paragraphs for each specific service and a call to action button that takes people to a service sub-page is a great solution.
This is a perfect structure for those who have a broad idea of what they want and want to easily see all the options available, before deciding on the one option they want to learn more about.
Let’s summarise the above
It’s important to create a website structure that makes life easier for people while on the website, while also attracting the maximum organic traffic.
Having a general page that covers multiple services is a quick and easy way for people to see everything that’s on offer before making a decision on what they want..
Having separate, service-specific sub-pages helps to rank better for service-specific, long tail keyword queries.
Keyword research helps you make better decisions about page structure, so that the website pleases both the Google Gods and the ideal client or customer you’re trying to attract!
When you work with me on a copywriting project, not only do I find the perfect keywords for you to use on each page, I also share my SEO intel and recommendations in an easy-to-read report format.
Want to save time on keyword research and look smarter in front of your clients? Contact me for a quote on your next project!