Local Business Site Structure: Complete Guide
In the digital world we live in, having a great site is essential for ensuring business success. However, many local businesses base their online presence on single page websites or sites with very poor structure, completely ignoring how that can affect their SEO efforts.
Site structure or site architecture refers to how a website’s content is organised – more precisely how the different pages on a site are structured and linked together in order to make it easier for users to navigate them and find what they’re looking for. The better a site is structured, the better it will perform in SERP, therefore it is imperative that you get your site structure right if you want to reach your business objectives.
Why is a Good Site Structure Important?
If you want to grow your local business, building a well-structured website is absolutely vital, and we’re going to explain why.
First of all, good site structure matters because it leads to a great user experience. According to the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA), 77% of agencies believe that poor website UX is a major weakness for businesses. Also, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive, which stresses the importance of focusing on creating well organised sites from the get go.
Making your site appealing to users and ensuring easy navigation is key for attracting more traffic to your pages and improving overall performance, and that can only be achieved by properly organising your site’s content.
A well-structured website is not just about pleasing users, it’s also about pleasing search engines. The structure of a website acts like a map for search engines. Web crawlers use both internal and external links to help search engines understand what your site is about and index its content. A better site structure makes it easier for these bots to crawl and index your pages, thus helping you improve your site’s rankings.
It shouldn’t be ignored that site structure is at the core of any effective SEO strategy. Build your site’s structure with SEO in mind and later you won’t have to struggle to optimize it or waste time rebuilding it to make it more SEO-friendly.
When determining a site’s architecture, there are a few essential components you have to focus on:
- Main Menus – a website’s main menu is a collection of links that help users navigate with ease between the different pages or sections of the site.
- Sub Menus – larger websites usually comprise more elements, therefore adding sub menus can help them organize their content better.
- Internal Links – internal links are links that send from one page on a website to another page or resource on the same website, establishing information hierarchy and allowing for better navigation.
- Services Pages – all the services your business provides should have their own individual pages in order to make it easier for both users and search engines to understand what you do.
- Location Pages – if you have multiple locations, it’s absolutely necessary to create a page on your website where you list all your locations.
- About – the about page should provide visitors with a clear image of what your business does and what it has to offer.
- Contact – this page should include information about how visitors can get in touch with you through various channels.
Plan before you build
Starting a website from scratch gives you the opportunity to build a structure that will later support all your SEO efforts. But before you rush to create your site’s pages, remember that a good business structure always starts with careful planning. Here are the steps you should follow in order to create a proper structure for your local business website.
- List all Pages
- Define your Target pages
- Define the URL structure
- Layout the Internal Links
List all pages
The first step in planning your site structure is to list out all the pages on your site. This may include all the services your business offers, locations you service, and all other essentials pages including contact and about.
For this example, we will use a plumbing website based in Sydney that has 5 services and 10 areas serviced.
Target pages are one of the most important aspects of a local SEO campaign. These are the pages that you want your visitors to reach and you’ll focus most of your SEO efforts on. They can be your home page, service page, location page or any other page that you might want to use to attract potential customers to your local business.
Target pages will be optimised for SEO by including relevant keywords in their content and focusing on geo-targeting, so they will bring in the bulk of your traffic.
If we use the website City Tax Accountants in Sydney as an example, we can see they have used the home page to target their main keyword “Tax Return Sydney”.
Using your home page to target the main keyword or the highest searched keyword comes with a host of benefits.
The main benefit is that the home page naturally gets the majority of the backlinks and becomes your website’s most powerful page.
However, if we take a look at another example from Fixed Today, which is a Sydney-based plumbing site, they have taken a different approach. They have kept their home page branded with more informational content and they’ve created an inner page targeting their main keyword “Plumber Sydney”, heavily optimising it for “Sydney” based keywords.
Putting this together
As you can see, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding which pages on your website to target. Still, keep in mind that if you are a single location business, targeting your main keyword and location – e.g., “Plumber Eastern Suburbs” – the best approach is to optimise your home page for that keyword.
On the other hand, if you have multiple locations, you may be best off targeting your home page for the most competitive keyword – e.g., “Plumber Sydney” or “Accountant Sydney”, and creating inner pages for other locations. Another viable option is to keep the home page branded and create inner pages optimised for the main keywords and geo.
To sum things up:
- Single location – Target home page to main keyword + geo
- Multiple locations – Target home page for the most competitive keyword and create inner pages for other locations OR Keep home page branded and create inner pages optimised for main keywords + geo
URL Structure & Hierarchy
Now, once you have decided on your target pages, it’s time to figure out the URL structure which is one of the most important steps in the whole process. The first aspect you have to focus on is creating a navigation hierarchy, which basically refers to organizing all the information on your website in a logical manner. The URL structure of your site will follow this hierarchy, so you’re practically building the foundation of your website right now.
Going back to our plumbing example, we have laid out all the pages in a spreadsheet (this can also be done in a flow diagram). This is also going to help you build your website’s menu, and you can even use it as the menu if the site is not overly large.
There are several options when it comes to organizing the serviced areas and suburb pages.
Option 1: You can keep the serviced areas pages “Eastern Suburbs” and “Inner West” as top-level pages, and interlink the suburbs pages.
The URLs will look like this:
This is the structure that Sydney’s Plumbing Specialists have chosen for their site.
Option 2: You can have the suburb pages as subpages of the /serviced-area/ page.
The URLs will look like this:
This is also how Fixed Today have structured their site.
Once again, there’s no right or wrong way to do this. Performance wise, both of these sites are ranking really well and they are both bringing in around 50,000USD of traffic per month through SEO, as shown by Ahrefs’ SEO metrics below.
Internal linking structure
Last but not least, you have to develop an internal linking structure.
What are internal links?
Just as we’ve mentioned previously, internal links refer to links that go from one page on a website to a different page on the same website. According to SEO best practices, all the pages on a website should have links to and from different pages on the same website.
Why is internal linking structure important?
There are three main reasons why developing an internal linking structure is important for your website, and we’re going to list them all here.
- They help users navigate your website and find what they need with ease – keep your visitors happy by ensuring a smooth user experience and they’ll spend more time on your pages, which in turn will also contribute to boosting your site’s rankings.
- They connect your website’s content and help establish information hierarchy – this helps search engines understand your site’s structure, what your pages are about and which pages are the most important, so you can improve visibility for them.
- They ensure link equity around your website – if you want all your pages to rank well, creating a comprehensive linking structure can help you with that by passing authority and value from one page to another.
Creating the internal link plan
Most of the work has been completed in the previous steps and we can now take that and build off it.
We want to make sure that:
- All pages are linking back to the home page
- All services pages link back to the service page
- Suburbs pages link back to the area pages
- Area pages link back to the home page
- All blog posts interlink with each other and with other relevant pages
If you want to build a great website for your local business that can set you on the path to success, starting with a proper website structure is of the utmost importance. You have to plan your site structure carefully, ideally before you’ve built your site. But if you already have a business website, you can still work on its structure and improve its performance SEO wise.
Site structure is one of the most important aspects to consider when optimizing a website for search engines, but one that is very often ignored by many business owners. Building, maintaining and improving your site’s structure is at the core of any successful SEO strategy.