This is the subhead for the blog post
Today’s post is by Virginia Nussey, social media editor at Bruce Clay, Inc.
My apologies for adding this phrase to the Web one more time, but give me a chance to defend once I say: content is king.
No. Make that “content has no king.”
Content spans the spectrum. Content is the substance of marketing, advertising, and media. Content bows to no form. Content is in all things Internet marketing.
And yet, what is clay without form? Sand is just dust unless it’s held in a container. And website content without logical organization could be unclear or misleading or, at worst, downright harmful.
And so any SEO, Web developer, and usability specialist plans a website structure logically organized for:
– Ease of navigation
– Appropriate depth of information
– Clear information scent
– Internal linking that considers humans and search rankings
The question then is “What’s the most functional container for a website?” And while there are a few ways to approach the issue, after years of consistent results in competitive spaces, I support and teach the school of siloing.
Website Siloing Elements
Siloing at its simplest is organizing content by topic or theme; the organization is supported by:
- A page’s physical location in a site
- The linking pathways between pages
- And the signs and signals labeling sections and topics throughout the site
Read here about the details of siloing site architecture to support SEO objectives, and read on for a bird’s-eye view of the silo site blueprint with enough detail for paid search specialists.
One means of organizing content clearly is by directory. By grouping all content on a topic in a directory, you’re containing related content in a silo that reinforces the topic theme. Each topic will have its own directory to act as the physical silo container.
A site’s breadcrumb navigation is a major information scent marker for visitors, both human and robot. Including breadcrumbs on all pages allow visitors to step back from a close-up view taking place on a deep page. This helps visitors navigate a site from a practical level and, in its role as traffic sign, offers a trust signal that puts visitors at ease because they always know where they are on a site.
A silo can act like a standalone container of content about a topic; however, as a portion of a larger site, silos link together to expand upon tangential and related themes. Therefore, navigation must be planned for each silo as well as the site as a whole. Site navigation maps out to the major silos; then, at the silo level, section-level navigation allows visitors to see the blueprint structure of how the content is laid out.
Consider the depth of content located within any silo. Organize content too many levels deep and content will be difficult to find — like driving directions that require excessive turns after getting off the highway.
A competing SEO site architecture school of thought argues that flat site architecture sees better performance in search engine rankings; reducing the number of clicks between the home page and deepest layer of content is a good practice for content discovery, the argument goes. Indeed, fewer clicks between home page and deep content should be kept to a minimum, and this should be kept in mind when designing site silos. Returning to our civil engineering analogy, rural outlier areas should be avoided.
Not to Forget: PPC Landing Pages Special Cases
There are special website architecture considerations for PPC landing pages and where they might be located within a site structure.
This most often comes up when an ad landing page is being created specially, outside of the organic website to target a specific keyword phrase or to address a specific audience. In cases like these, you may not have the best ad landing page within the present site.
Another common scenario for PPC comes up when pages are created to target a search query and text content is duplicated except for the keyword phrase. In cases like these, you may not want pages crawled and indexed by search engines.
The solution is to create a directory for ad-only landing pages. This directory must be indicated “noindex” in the Robots.text file. You can also include a “noindex” Robots Meta tag on these pages to avoid duplicate content filtering and user discovery through search.
What’s the Right Structure for My Website?
When you travel a lot, you get to appreciate a city that can be navigated intuitively thanks to well-laid roads, signs, traffic signals, and rule enforcement. A website has parallel requirements for facilitating an easy flow of traffic.
The readership of PPC Associates is primarily focused on the paid search side of marketing activities, and website architecture may fall outside the realm of your day-to-day focus, but an efficiently and effectively shaped website is an important component in a business/brand’s marketing engine.
An intimate knowledge of a website aids the advertiser ushering a visitor from ad to site. Understand the site like a map, knowing where the “X” of that drop-off point is on the map and the adjacent places a visitor is most likely to wander to from there.
– Virginia Nussey writes for blogs, businesses and herself. On behalf of brands, she helps develop content that communicates, converts, and builds community. She writes about managing an online brand presence through SEO and social media content at the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog and SEO Newsletter.