Your company has invested in content marketing to tell the story of your brand, to connect with and support your audience. You have a blog and are regularly adding content. But is your blog well-structured for SEO (search engine optimization)? If you’re not sure, let’s review a few basics on how to build an SEO-friendly blog.
Note: This blog post is about the internal structure of your blog on your website. In Part 2, we’ll dive into how to optimize individual blog posts for SEO. Stay tuned for that.
Why Is Site Structure Important?
How your website is structured and, for this discussion specifically, how your blog is structured, is incredibly important to its success. There are three reasons for this:
How your blog is structured instantly helps a visitor understand what topics you specialize in and how those topics are connected. Your choice of topic categories reinforces your expertise and can instantly instill confidence in your brand. A new visitor may land, from Google, on a blog post on topic X and then after reading that one post, want to see other posts on that topic. Make it a seamless and easy journey for that visitor by making sure your blog is linking topic categories. The names of your topic categories should be easy to understand and should represent topics your audience cares most about.
Engagement and SEO are not mutually exclusive topics when it comes to site structure. They are interdependent in many respects. Google’s engagement metrics, such as time on site, time on page, bounce rate and exit rate all play a critical role in Google’s ranking algorithm. So the architecture of your blog affects the user experience, and the user experience affects your overall ranking.
Beyond user engagement metrics on the public side of your website, how your site is structured plays a role in how efficiently search engine spiders can crawl your site. Having a well-thought-out site hierarchy and internal-linking strategy can make all the difference in how your website performs.
Ideally, no page on your site should be more than three clicks away from the home page. Click depth is the commonly used term to describe the number of clicks a piece of content is from the home page. Thus, grouping your blogs into concise categories and cross-linking those will help search crawlers more quickly ascertain the meaning and connection between those topics and posts.
You also will want to avoid having orphan pages – pages that are not linked internally to any other pages. Google and other search crawlers will have a harder time trying to understand the relationship of those pages to your overall site.
How to Select and Organize Your Blog Categories
So we’ve covered why site structure is important, so how do you go about selecting the optimal blog categories for your site?
Check Your Analytics
If you are building a new website, this tactic won’t be useful to you yet – but most of us are continuously optimizing our current website and moving from one redesign project to another within shorter and shorter intervals. Check your website performance data and home in on which blog posts (and other content-rich pages) are the most popular. Are there new topic categories that come to mind? Are there certain current topic categories that don’t have much content under them or are not proving popular to your readers?
Next, reference your social media analytics. Which blog posts garnered the most engagement; which were shared most? Let your audience data inform your decision-making when it comes to choosing your blog topic categories.
Internal Team Input
No one knows your customers’ pain points more than your front-line team members: your customer support staff and your sales team. Have your team members play a role in selecting the topics you write about. Gather your team and brainstorm a list of common issues they hear about from your customers. Use index cards to write out the issues and then create higher-level categories to file each card under. Sort those cards into piles. Consider those higher-level categories as possible new blog categories or edit your current categories accordingly.
As mentioned earlier,you’ll want to make sure the names of your blog categories are common and easily understood. Also, make sure, where applicable, you are using your website’s overall target keywords – the keywords you most would like to rank for – in your blog hierarchy. Double-check the search volume of your categories and have that be a factor in your final decision-making.
What’s the Best URL Structure for a Blog?
A popular question we hear from our clients is: What is the optimal URL structure for a blog? Should I include the category name in my URL structure? Like most topics in digital marketing, I don’t have a one-size-fits-all response.
On the one hand, you’re doing a great job telling the user and crawlers more about the meaning of the post by displaying its topical category in the URL, but, on the other hand, URLs can end up becoming very long. That has its own downsides.
The current best practice for URL structure really depends on the size of your site. If you have a site with over a thousand pages of content, I would recommend surfacing the category in the URL. If you site is smaller than 1,000 pages, I would keep the URL short and opt out of displaying the category within your URL structure.
General rule of thumb for optimal blog URL structure:
- For sites with over 1,000 pages of content, I would apply this structure to your blog:
- For sites with less than 1,000 pages of content (and you don’t foresee growing your site near than range in the next two to three years), I would apply the following structure to your blog: www.mydomainname.com/blog/title-of-the-blog-post
And of course, we want the blog titles that appear in those URLs to be descriptive and to include the keyword phrase the piece is targeting!
Do you have a burning question about
the structure of your blog and its impact on your search rankings? We’d love to
hear from you! Reach out to us at [email protected].