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Case Study: What is Site Structure and SiteLinks

Creating Site Structure and Sitelinks

I thought it was all said out there in blogs and videos until one of my clients in boxed and asked what is site structure?, How can I get sitelinks?

And well, this blog is basically to answer those questions.

In layman’s language, a website structure is basically a hierarchy or structural organization of your website pages and content.

This includes how your internal links, menus and blogs will be organized and appear even later on in the search engine results pages.

Unfortunately, site structure is the least thought of assignment web designers and developers do when pulling up a website.

On the other hand, search engines like Google and Bing reward sitelinks to websites with a perfect site structure.

Sitelinks are basically a list of links in the search results when someone searches using your site’s main keyword.

Go Tech UG Sitelinks

Sitelinks show your website’s cornerstone content (pages or posts). These may include your about, services, products, blog posts etc.

Why are Sitelinks Important?

Besides Google being the only determinant on which links show up in the search results, sitelinks play an important role to the site owner and visitor.

  1. Sitelinks are a Google Sign of Trust
  2. Sitelinks bring along better visibility and brand Identity
  3. They get your cornerstone content noticed
  4. Sitelink increase Click Through Rate (CTR)
  5. Sitelinks put you on top of your competition

If you didn’t know about sitelinks, I have to tell you that they are a big SEO enhancer, brand confidence builder, visitor trust, search domination and an amazing way to beat your competition.

Having my blog with sitelinks in the SERP has helped me get more direct traffic to my cornerstone content and hire me page as well.

Hence, letting my visitors have quick access to one of my best blogs and knowing which services I offer.

How Can I Create Sitelinks?

Sitelinks are awarded by search engines like Google to websites with an amazing site structure.

So, there is no specific step by step you can follow to have sitelinks show up.

But as long as Google’s algorithm and web crawlers understand your site’s structure, sitelinks will show up.

If your site has a bad content structure, none of the links will ever show up and this will cost you traffic / site visitors, low or no visitor trust and confidence among others.

However, in this blog. I’ll show you how to create a wowing site structure, get Google pleased and award you sitelinks.

A Personal Encounter

So, a while back a client reached out on if can help them have a sitelinks appear for their News site for its target site keyword.

Site structure client

Being honest and straight to him, I told him it’s not guaranteed that sitelinks will finally emerge regardless of what I would have worked on.

On the other hand, I was confident that there was an issue with his site structure and knew that once fixed and ask Google’s crawlers and spiders crawl through the site again, it would take about 3-10 weeks to see some results.

And in this, I expected sitelinks to appear.

And boom, I could have access to the clients site backend and my assumption wasn’t wrong.

The site menu structure, content structure and hierarchy, sitemaps, duplicate content, crawl errors, orphan pages among others was the order of the day.

Site errors in websmaster

Just like for any other website run by a team.

Then, inside me, I knew that if I could only fix these the right way, it would get Google showup the sitelinks.

And guess what, I’ wasn’t wrong.

I got this screenshot just after 7days

Finished Work on Site structure

upon completion of the client’s website structure, fixing broken links, orphaned pages, internal linking, added cornerstone content among others.

Sitelinks show up

And 14 days down the road, go this screenshot

Sitelinks and client feedback

And now, this is wat I see

Sitelinks on Flash Uganda Media

Love that? Yah sure.

That’s exactly what am going to show you in the next step.

Why is Good Site Structure Important? 

1. Faster Indexing

With a good site structure, you help search engines understand your website and content better.

This means that indexing your website will come faster and hence getting your brand out there in the search results pages.

2. Lower Bounce Rate and Dwell Time

That aside, bounce rate and dwell time is the new Google ban.

Bounce rate is basically a calculated amount of time your site visitors leave your site upon arrival.

If your website has a very high bounce rate, this means that visitors didn’t like your content or that it wasn’t what they search for or for so many other reasons.

The more visitors bounce off your website, this sends a signal to Google.

Google/search engines will later place better-performing links at the top of your website link. And hence you’ll lose rankings and search traffic

How to create a site structure that I’ll be loved by Google

Before you start creating your next website, here are things you MUST put in consideration to have a perfect site structure that would qualify you for Google site links.

This also applies for already existing websites and eCommerce stores.

  1. Structure your website content prior
  2. Optimize your site for speed
  3. Optimize your site for mobile
  4. Secure your site with an SSL
  5. SEO optimize your site pages and categories
  6. Make best use of Permalinks and user friendly URLs
  7. Create and submit website sitemap to Google
  8. Internally link your website content (pages, posts and products)

Model Site Hierarchy

One of the common mistakes web developers and designers do is forgetting to sketch out a preferred site structure from the word go.

When this is perfectly done, it saves you way more hours on thinking out which pages will appear on the site.

At which locations and also figuring out which will be the main pages, subpages and even categories.

It is best preferred to have a 3 tier hierarchy where you have the 1st  tier as the main pages, 2nd categories, 3rd products/services

It is best preferred to have a 3 tier hierarchy where you have the 1st tier as the main pages, 2nd categories, 3rd products/services. Click To Tweet

For really huge eCommerce sites which have way more pages and info to display it is still advisable to keep within 3-4 tier hierarchy

Sample Site Structures and Where they apply?

Depending on the type of website and content distribution model, site structures differ.

For example, if you’re running a news blog and and eCommerce website on a side. Both are simply websites but site structure and content distribution differ.

And here, we will group websites into six categories.

  1. Ecommerce
  2. Discussion/Forum sites
  3. Social Sites
  4. Blogs
  5. Corporate site
  6. News site

Model eCommerce Site Structure

Home>Store>Categories>Products

Model eCommerce site structure

Model Forum Site Structure

Home>Categories>Topics>Blogs

Model Forum Site Structure

Model Social Site Structure

Home>News>Dashboard>Connections

Model Social Site Structure 

Model Blog Site Structure

Home>Categories>Blogs

 Model Blog Site Structure

 

Model Corporate Site Structure

Home>Departments>Services>Products 

Model Corporate Site Structure 

Model News Site Structure

Home>Categories>Posts/News

Model News Site Structure

How to Qualify for SiteLinks in Google SERPs

 

First things first.

You can’t directly instruct Google to display specific pages in the sitelinks.

Your task is to optimize your site structure, content and speed for the search.

The rest including crawling, indexing and ranking will be done by the search engine.

Including displaying site links in the search results pages (SERPs)

Google Ranking Factors

Site links are chosen automatically based on over 200 Google ranking factors.

Rank for Your Brand Name

When you search for your brand name (site main keyword) like Go Tech UG. Your site should pop up.

Sitelink Main Keyword Rank

Or even longer brand names

sitelinks for African Art Innovations

If this is not happening, here are a couple of things you can do.

  1. Submit your website to webmasters by fetching and rendering your site’s main page.
  2. Include your site’s main keyword (Go Tech UG) on the main page.
  3. Make sure you have at least 400 words as text on your homepage and that your site’s main keyword appears
  4. Install and activate Yoast SEO plugin and optimize your you main pages SEO and readability
  5. Make sure your site’s main page is not blocked by the robots.txt. When you page or content is block there, it makes Google won’t crawl that specific page.

Interlink Your Pages from the Home page

When Google crawls your website, it begins with the home (main) and progresses to the level after.

This means, even when your page or post is buried down there, once Google crawlers crawl your homepage with well interlinked pages, that hidden page will be crawled to and interlinked as well.

Interlinking involves linking your old pages to newly published ones and reverse.

Also, this Includes adding new pages to target categories.

Have a Simplistic Site Structure

Easily understandable site structures make the work of search engine spiders and crawlers understand your website and content better.

With a well-structured site, Google will understand which pages are more important than other and which pages have more authority.

This among others, will enable Google to choose which pages to display in the site links.

Submit Your Sitemap to Google Webmaster

One thing I used not to mind about a lot was telling Google about my newly launched website.

google webmasters tool

Now, it’s the first thing I do even after publishing just a blog post.

By submitting a sitemap to Google, you’re basically be telling Google about the existence of your website and its contents.

Then, Google will send its crawlers to read and understand your website. Get it indexed, and show up the search results etc.

Among others to get sitelinks:

In Closing.

Like Neil Patel once said, If your site has poor CTRs and low dwell time, it will not perform well in the SERPs.

And so, I would highly advise that you take the necessary measures to build a perfect structure site.

It is very possible in WordPress and other content management systems.

Your website will appeal to visitors, get loved by Google crawlers and spiders and then get you amazing search appearance and rankings.

Best way to achieve this, if you’re starting on a new project, have a layout drawn out on paper.

Sketch the site’s navigation structure, figure out how links and other pages are to link to each other and then start.

For you trying to fix current site structure errors, make the desired structural outline first on paper.

And start fixing the poorly structured sections including menus, headers, internal links among others.

Or ask your site administrator or developer to help out.

Have your say in the comments section.

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Kwehangana Hamza

cms-africa-kigali

I am a digital content designer and publisher working with a top digital agency in Kampala, Uganda. I started blogging out of my passion for learning & sharing.

Through this blog, I share tech and digital tips i’ve uncovered and hoping they be of great value to you.

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