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What is website architecture? (+ 11 SEO tips for improving your site)

What is website architecture

Whether you’re building a website or thinking of updating your original one, understanding website architecture is key for great user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO). Imagine visiting a library where books are not categorized or arranged in any order. Fiction mingles with non-fiction, children's literature is shelved alongside dense academic texts and there are no labels or signs to guide you. Seeking a specific book in such a chaotic environment becomes a frustrating treasure hunt, where the chances of leaving empty-handed or with an unwanted book are high. 

This is how your website would feel without proper website infrastructure. Just like organizing a library makes finding books easier, a well-structured website guides users smoothly to what they're looking for, enhancing their experience. In this article we’ll cover what is website architecture, why it’s important and how you can develop a strong foundation for your site.

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What is website architecture?

Website architecture is how a website’s pages are structured and linked together. It serves as a roadmap for both users and search engine crawlers to find what they are searching for on a website.

A well-designed website architecture is crucial for both user experience and SEO. Organizing your site with an intentional hierarchy, signals which content is most important and how it connects to other pages on your site. It helps users easily navigate through the site, find the information they need and complete desired actions.

Additionally, a hierarchical structure in website development helps search engines crawl your site more effectively to understand what’s on your site. As a result, your website may stand a better chance of appearing on search engine results pages (SERPs), helping you gain visibility.

The structure of a standard website resembles a rooted tree graph, with the home page serving as the root. Pages linked from the home page act as branches and these web pages further extend into additional branches. These interconnected branches form the website's overall structure.

Here’s what the tree typically looks like:

Website architecture tree

11 best practices for website architecture

01. Reduce number of clicks to top pages

Aim for four clicks or less to improve website user experience and boost your site visibility to search engines. Opt for a flat site structure, making every page accessible within a few clicks, unlike a deep structure where pages might need five or more clicks to be reached. 

For example, a flat structure would be: Home > Products > Product A

A deep structure would be: Home > Products > Category 1> Subcategory 1 > Sub-subcategory 1 > Product A.

02. Create an easy to follow navigation menu

Your navigation menu is the roadmap of your site. 94% of users say easy navigation tops the list of essential website features.. It should be easy to understand and follow, making it simple for them to find what they’re looking for. Use clear and concise labels for each menu item, avoid drop-down menus with too many options and prioritize pages based on their importance.

Here are some tips to improve your navigation bar:

  • Keep it consistent across all pages: Make sure your navigation menu appears on all pages, allowing users to easily switch between sections of your site.

  • Limit the number of menu items:  Too many menu items can be overwhelming and make it harder to find what's needed. Keep your main menu items to the most important pages, six or less, using sub-menus if necessary.

  • Use descriptive labels: Make it clear to users what they can expect when clicking on a menu item. Use straightforward and descriptive labels, avoiding obscure or clever options that might confuse them.

  • Include a homepage link: This allows visitors to return to the homepage starting point at any time. Simply labeling it as “HOME” works, but for a seamless experience, consider integrating this link into your logo.

  • Use HTML: Avoid using JavaScript or Flash for navigation as search engines may have difficulty crawling and indexing links within these elements. Stick to HTML for your navigation menu to ensure It's accessible and visible to search engine bots.

Navigation bar

03. Implement breadcrumb navigation

Breadcrumb navigation refers to a text-based trail of links found at the top of a page, indicating the user’s current location within your site. It shows the path of pages that a user might take and it makes it easier for them to return to previous pages. 

An example of breadcrumb navigation could be showing a larger category and then the smaller item page under the header. With the Wix website builder, you can add breadcrumbs to your site. 

Tips for using breadcrumb navigation:

  • Use a clear and simple design: Breadcrumb navigation should be easy to read and understand, so choose the best website font for readability.

  • Place it in a consistent location: Make sure your breadcrumb navigation appears in the same spot on every page, usually at the top, making it easier to find.

  • Include the homepage as the first link: This allows users to easily navigate back to the homepage.

04. Add a site search function

Including a site search function allows users to quickly search for specific keywords or topics and navigate directly to the relevant pages, rather than having to click through multiple categories and pages. This is especially useful for larger sites with a lot of pages and information. Elevate your Wix site user experience by seamlessly adding Wix Site Search.

Tips for implementing a site search function:

  • Place it prominently on your site: Make sure the search bar is easily visible and accessible from any page on your site.

  • Include an advanced search option: This allows users to specify their search criteria and find more specific results.

  • Include a clear search button: Make sure users know how to execute the search by including a clearly labeled search button.

05. Make category pages

Category pages are crucial when building an eCommerce website since they serve as a hub for related content and can help improve the internal linking structure of your site. By organizing products or services into categories, you reduce the effort users expend to find what they need. This not only aids in delivering relevant content swiftly but also distributes your site's authority across various pages, boosting SEO.

Learn more about how to build an eCommerce site.

Tips for optimizing category pages:

  • Include descriptive titles and descriptions: Make sure your category pages have clear and concise titles and descriptions, making it easy for users to understand what they can find on that page.

  • Implement internal linking: Include links to relevant subcategory or product pages within the category page, increasing the chances of those pages being indexed by search engines.

  • Use images or visuals: Including visual elements can make your category pages more visually appealing and help users quickly identify the type of content they can expect to find.

Wix template website categories functionality

06. Develop topic clusters

Topic clusters are a popular SEO strategy that involves organizing your website's content into clusters based on related topics and linking them together. This method involves creating a pillar page (a comprehensive and authoritative page) as the main hub for a particular topic and then linking related pages (subtopic pages) to it.

For instance, your main topic could be restaurants. Your pillar pages might include how to create a restaurant website, restaurant marketing strategies, how to create a logo for a restaurant, creating a digital menu for a restaurant website and restaurant website creation tools. Each of these pages would explore different facets of managing a restaurant's online presence, providing detailed insights on each aspect.

Restaurant pillar and subtopics

To create a successful topic cluster:

  • Identify core topics: Start by identifying the main topics or themes that your website covers and break them down into subtopics.

  • Create pillar pages for each core topic: These are comprehensive pages that cover all aspects of the main topic and link to related content within the cluster.

  • Identify sub-topics:  Create subtopic pages for each aspect of the main topic and link them back to the pillar page. Make sure all pages within the cluster also link to one another, creating a strong internal linking structure.

  • Link related content together: Create links between various pages within the topic cluster, making it easier for users to navigate through different sections of your site.

  • Optimize for keywords: Make sure to research and include relevant keywords within your content, both on the pillar page and related pages within the topic cluster.

  • Keep your content fresh and engaging: Regularly update your topic clusters with new, high-quality articles relevant to your core subject. Leveraging a content management system (CMS) simplifies this process, making it easier for you to stay relevant and authoritative in your field. 

07. Use internal linking strategically

Internal linking is the process of linking pages within your own website and helps distribute link authority throughout your website. It also makes it easier for users to navigate between related content, improving their overall experience.

For example,  if you write a blog post about different types of yoga, you can internally link to other relevant posts on your site, such as "The Benefits of Hot Yoga" or "How to Get Started with Restorative Yoga."

Tips for using internal linking effectively:

  • Ensure relevance: Only link to pages that are relevant to each other, as this helps users find related content and improves the credibility of your site.

  • Use clear anchor text: Make sure the text used for the link is descriptive and accurately reflects the content of the page being linked to. Avoid using generic terms such as "click here" or "learn more."

  • Include links naturally within the content: Rather than adding a long list of links at the end of a page, include them within the body of your content where appropriate. This helps improve the flow and readability of your content.

  • Link to both internal and external pages: Including external links can also be beneficial as it shows search engines that you are providing valuable resources for your users.

  • Regularly audit and update links: Make sure to regularly check for broken or outdated links and update them accordingly.

08. Create an XML sitemap

A sitemap is like your website's roadmap. It's an XML file that lists all the pages, images, videos and files on your website and their relationship to each other. It's designed in a search-engine-friendly format, ensuring your content gets crawled and indexed effectively, boosting your site's visibility. It also gives you a bird's-eye view of your website's structure, making it easier to see how everything connects. 

Tips for creating an effective XML sitemap:

  • Include all relevant pages: Make sure to include all the pages on your site, including ones that may not be linked within your site navigation.

  • Prioritize important pages: You can assign priority levels to different pages within your sitemap, indicating to search engines which pages are essential.

  • Update regularly: As you add new content or make changes to existing pages, remember to update your XML sitemap and submit it to search engines.

Website and HTML element code

09. Craft SEO-friendly URL structures

Keep your Universal Resource Locator (URLs) short and sweet. They should mirror your site's categories, be easy to understand and include keywords that matter. This not only helps with SEO but also makes it easier for users to remember and share specific pages. As you connect smaller pages to their parent pages, you can build your URLs in layers to show users the path they took to get to that page.

Tips for creating SEO-friendly URLs:

  • Use descriptive keywords: Include relevant keywords in your URL to give an idea of what the page is about.

  • Keep them short: Shorter URLs are easier to read, share and remember. Plus, search engines typically only show the first 60 characters of a URL in their search results.

  • Use hyphens to separate words: Instead of using underscores or spaces, use hyphens to separate words in your URL.

  • Include targeted keywords closer to the beginning: Placing relevant keywords closer to the beginning of your URL can help improve its SEO value.

10. Be consistent in layout and design

Consistency is key in creating a well-designed user interface, and it also applies to your website design and layout. Keeping a consistent layout helps users navigate through your site more easily, knowing where to find important information. Website templates can streamline this process, offering a cohesive and user-friendly design framework that enhances overall site navigation and usability.

Tips for maintaining consistency in web design:

  • Keep navigation menus in the same location: Users expect to find navigation menus in a certain place on a website, so keeping it consistent throughout your site helps with usability.

  • Use the same fonts and colors: Using consistent fonts and website colors schemes across your website creates a visually cohesive experience for users.

  • Follow a similar page structure: Try to keep a similar website layout and structure for all pages within your site. This makes it easier for users to find information and navigate between pages.

  • Maintain a consistent brand image: Your website should reflect your brand's overall image and style, so make sure to incorporate your branding elements throughout the design.

eCommerce website header and cart with consistent design

11. Optimize for mobile

As more users browse on mobile devices, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is key. Focus on optimizing your website architecture for smooth navigation on all devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Remember, mobile screens are smaller and navigation is touch-based. Make sure all navigation and labels are easy to use on mobile. Try tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check your site’s mobile usability.

Tips for optimizing your website for mobile:

  • Optimize images: Large image files can slow down your website's loading speed on mobile devices. Optimize images for mobile with an image resizer to avoid sacrificing quality.

  • Avoid using Flash: Many mobile devices don't support Flash, so it's best to avoid it altogether to ensure a smooth experience for mobile users.

  • Design with touch in mind: Keep in mind that users will be navigating your website with their fingers on a touch screen. Make sure buttons and links are easy to click and not too close together, so users don't accidentally click the wrong thing.

Why is website architecture important for SEO?

Website architecture plays a critical role in SEO. The way your site is structured affects how search engines crawl and index your content, which ultimately impacts your ranking on SERPs. Wix websites come integrated with powerful SEO features, ensuring optimal site structure for better visibility and ranking.

Here is what you can accomplish:

Improve user experience

A well-organized site with a clear hierarchy makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. With intuitive navigation and a logical structure, users can easily browse through your content and complete desired actions. This boosts satisfaction and keeps them coming back, while longer visits signal to search engines your site's value. 

Boost search engine crawlability

Search engines use bots or spiders to crawl websites. These bots follow links from one page to another, collecting information about the site's content and structure to determine its relevance to a given query. With a clear website architecture, these bots can easily navigate your site, accurately index your content and understand how it relates to other pages on your site.

Internal linking assists crawlbots to discover new pages

Spread site authority

Site authority refers to the credibility and relevance of your site in a particular niche or industry. It's determined by various factors, including inbound links, quality content and user engagement. The hierarchy of your website plays a crucial role in spreading this authority throughout all pages on your site.

When you create a clear structure within your site that prioritizes important pages and interlinks relevant content, you’re effectively spreading the authority of your site across all its pages. This helps improve the overall ranking and visibility of your business website.

Learn more on the Wix Seo Learning Hub

How to develop a strong website architecture

Developing a well-structured website architecture requires careful planning and consideration. Before you develop your structure, you need a plan to ensure your approach suits both business requirements and user needs.

Whether you’re redesigning or designing something new, here are some key steps to follow:

  1. Define your business goals: Before you start designing your website's structure, it's important to have a clear understanding of your business goals. This will help determine the purpose of your site and the content that needs to be included.

  2. Conduct keyword research: Keyword research helps identify the most relevant and high-performing keywords for your site. This will inform the content you create and how It's organized within your architecture.

  3. Analyze competitors:  Analyzing the website architecture of your competitors can provide valuable insights and inspiration for your own structure. Take note of what works well and how you can improve upon it.

  4. Understand your user:  It’s essential to understand your target audience and their needs to create a website that caters to them. Conducting user research, such as surveys or focus groups, can provide valuable insights into how users navigate and interact with websites.

  5. Categorize your content: When organizing your content, use intuitive and descriptive category names that make it easy for users to understand the purpose of each page. Avoid using technical or industry-specific jargon that may confuse users.

  6. Create a sitemap: A sitemap is a diagram of your website's structure, outlining all pages and their relationship to each other. This provides a visual representation of your site's hierarchy and helps ensure all pages are interconnected.

  7. Test and optimize: Once you have developed your website architecture, it's important to continuously test and optimize it based on user feedback and data analysis. This will help improve the overall usability, accessibility and performance of your site for both users and search engines.

Wix template website footer with subscribe, social media links and category menu

What is website architecture FAQ

What is site architecture vs website information architecture?

Site architecture refers to the structural layout and organization of a website, including its navigation, hierarchy and relationships between pages. Website information architecture focuses specifically on how information is organized and presented within a website to enhance user understanding and usability.

Which is better, pagination or infinite scroll?

How is website architecture different from website design?

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