Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on August 18th, 2009

The SEO Importance Of Website Architecture

Website architecture is an extremely important aspect of search engine optimization because it helps determine the site’s placement and performance in the results. Search engine optimization starts with the basic structure of a site. If a site doesn’t have efficient web structure, there is no way it will rank well in the SERPs. If your basic architecture is in any way flawed, no amount of excellent content or inbound links will help you achieve the rankings you desire.

Both Google and Microsoft’s Bing have recognized this issue and have provided some tips for website developers in order to ensure a solid website architecture:

Robot.txt File

Make sure your robot.txt file has the correct status and does not return an error message. While reviewing the settings of the robots.txt file, make sure that all web pages are blocked appropriately.

File and Directory Names

Use descriptive file and directory names because it is not only easier for users to relate to and remember, but they also increase the relevancy of the web pages. Use your strategic keywords and phrases within the names. If the names are long, use hyphens instead of underscores.

Directory Depth

Search engine spiders crawl website directories to index them for rankings in the search engines. If your directory is too deep, there is a decent chance that they will not index your entire site. If you have important content buried deep in your directories, they may never be seen by the spiders. Make your directory structure no more than four levels from the root directory.

File Sizes

Limit the file sizes of all your web pages to no more than 150 KB. Search engine spiders have been known to skip larger pages.

301s and 404s

This may sound like a route for your next Sunday drive, but it’s more important information than what you feed your car’s GPS system. 301 redirects, when used correctly, are used for web pages you move to a new domain or when you change the names of files and folders in order to retain the link juice. Custom 404 error pages are used to inform searchers about the absence of web pages and know how to get them back to your website. It is also important to let them know what went wrong and how they can reach the particular page they are looking for.

Follow Industry Practices

If you are developing or managing a site, it is critical that you use the best industry practices and implement them efficiently. If you like “sticking it to the man”, the web is not going to be a very lucrative venture for you.

These three tips are just the beginning of a stronger, more efficient website structure. It will not only cater well to the real users of your site but to the search engines as well. Don’t do your business an injustice by using bad website architecture, take the time and use these tips to make your site friendly and found with everyone.