Many webmasters underestimate the importance of their link structure on their website. A good website structure improves usability, and makes it easy for the Googlebot to crawl and index your website. In this article, we show you how to analyze and optimize your website structure.
Have you ever clicked your way through a website with many subdirectories? Then you'll know why a flat website hierarchy on websites is important. The basic rule is: the lower the directory depth, the faster users reach their destination. Ideally, users should be able to reach any page of your website within 3 clicks.
Not only users appreciate short click paths on websites - the Googlebot does too. It only has a limited amount of time to crawl websites. If your website has a very complex directory structure with many subdirectories, the Googlebot might not reach the lowest directory levels at all due to the limited crawl budget. If URLs can’t be crawled, they won’t be indexed. If the Googlebot does crawl these directories, chances are they won’t be crawled very regularly. The snippets displayed by your site in the SERPs could then refer to content that is no longer up-to-date.
A website hierarchy promotes usability, and makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl and index your site.
With Ryte you can easily check in which directory depth your URLs are located. Use Website Success for this. Navigate to "URL Structure" and then click on "Subfolder count". Ryte will show you how many directories are available. If you only see green bars, this means you use a maximum of three directory levels and there is no need for action. If you have four or more directories, you should double check whether this really makes sense.
Figure 1: Check directories with Ryte
In a second step, you can use Ryte to check the click path - how many clicks a user needs to reach a URL. To do this, click on "Links" in Website Success and then on "Click Path".
Figure 2: Analyze click depth with Ryte
The focus here should be on all URLs where a user needs four clicks or more to reach them.
In addition to the page hierarchy, the link hierarchy also plays an important role in optimizing your website. It ensures that the link power is optimally distributed to all subpages. With Ryte you control the link hierarchy with your own report. You can find it in the "Links" section of Website Success.
Figure 3: Analyze link hierarchy with Ryte
An optimal link hierarchy ensures that all directories link to all other directories and are therefore crawled and indexed by the Googlebot.
With this report, you should take a closer look at the red marked diagrams. Click on one of these pie charts. Ryte automatically creates a filter and shows you the URLs which, for example, do not link to the parent directory.
After you have checked your page hierarchy with Ryte, you can carry out the following measures to improve it:
Delete unnecessary directories: Before you delete an unnecessary directory, you should save all existing URLs in the new directory. This could be an existing directory in which you integrate the URLs. Then set up a 301 redirect from the old directory to the new directory so that you redirect users from the old to the new URL. In this article, we show you how to set redirects correctly.
Insert a breadcrumb navigation: To improve the link hierarchy of your website, you can insert a breadcrumb navigation. It ensures that every URL links back to the parent directory. You should also check your user menu. For example, your users should be able to access all categories of your website via this menu.
It is important that you also implement changes in the directory level in your menu. Otherwise you risk 404 errors or broken links, which in turn can have a negative effect on usability.
Deleting or merging directories also changes many URLs of your website. To inform the Googlebot about these changes, you should adjust your sitemap.xml and update it in the Google Search Console.
In addition, you can request for Google to index the new URLs. To do this, you perform a URL check in the Google Search Console. Then click on "Apply for indexing" to send the URL to Google.
Figure 4: Request indexing in the Google Search Console
You can easily check your website structure with Ryte. If you then need to optimize anything, be careful when deleting or merging directories. Always make sure you implement redirects correctly.
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Published on 06/24/2019 by Philipp Roos.
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