In this second part of the SEO Golden Rules series, we’ll look at site organization and structure and how this impacts your search engine (SE) ranking performance, particularly bearing Google’s Penguin update in mind.
The way you structure your site is very important for two reasons:
- Make it easy for your visitors to navigate
- Make page crawling for the SEs as simple as possible
From a visitor perspective, it makes sense that content on a similar topic should all be found in the same section of the site. For example, if you have a website selling furniture, all of the bedroom furniture should be grouped together in the same section of the site. With possibly all your kitchen or living room furniture grouped in a different section of the site (whatever logically makes sense). If a visitor came to your site looking for dining room table sets, they shouldn’t have to navigate past all the kitchen stuff too …
If you’re using WordPress as a website platform (or as a blog), organizing your site logically is very easy: Simply create a category for each ‘section’ and assign that category to relevant posts/pages (content). Always use only one category per post as this makes for better organization and it keeps things simpler and more organized. If you need to assign a further ‘categorization’, I would recommend using tags instead (for example, both a living room chair and a outdoor garden chair can both be tagged ‘chair’).
Try to avoid having any tags point to only one single post because WordPress creates a page for every searchable tag (try clicking on one of the tags to the bottom right to see what I mean) and if there’s only one post associated to this tag, the tag search page will look very similar to the actual page and you may get penalized for duplicate content. Another pitfall is tagging each post with hundreds of tags – this actually has a very negative impact on your SEO. Think about your tags and only include the most relevant ones in every post.
So in short, only use a tag if it will be used by several other posts on your site.
Another great trick for SEO is to create a templated page for each tag and then add a keyword-containing paragraph or two related to that tag, on the tag page. Not only does this create extra content for your site, it also helps keep your pages unique, a vital aspect in an effective SEO strategy.
A great plugin for tag management (and cleanup) is ‘Simple Tags’.
One of the most overlooked and easiest to implement SEO strategies is internal linking. Not only does this help the SEs spider-crawl your site, but it also helps visitors find related content. Plenty of WordPress plugins exist that can help you automate some of your internal linking of your site, most noteably Yet Another Related Post plugin which will automatically create a related posts section at the end of every post on your WordPress site. It can be configured to only find related posts within the same category – I highly recommend this since it creates a tighter ‘categorization box’ for articles on your site.
Another import aspect for effective SEO is inter-page linking from within the body of your site articles. This type of linking helps to increase indexing of your site as well as the rankings of individual pages.
Exact Match Domains
In the pre-Penguin days, exact match domains (where the main keyword you are targeting is in fact the domain name, e.g. ‘CheapFurnitureOnline.com’) were a popular way for people to set up sites that were targeting a single keyword phrase. While people are still doing this today, it is a much less effective strategy and in fact having an exact match domain (EMD) more often than not ranks a lot lower than a domain that is linked to a brand, using proper SEO techniques.
Post-Penguin Google actually scrutinizes EMDs which makes sense since sites should offer information on a range of keywords and phrases – not just a single keyphrase. Webmasters who whacked up an Adsense-enabled and were ranking well immediately, now find themselves struggling to rank (or worse, getting banned from Adsense).
Have you had improved SEO results by altering the structure of your site? We’d love to hear about your experiences below or feel free to ask any questions. Be sure to check out part 3 of this series (coming soon), Authority.