Site structure is often times ignored when publishing a business blog and that’s a huge mistake. There are several reasons why blog posts don’t rank in search engines; however, none of those reasons matter until you’ve evaluated and optimized your site structure. The typical blog is full of content that is never read because it resides on a website that search engines can’t see. And, it’s nearly impossible to increase blog traffic to an invisible website.
What is Site Structure?
Site structure refers to how your “website is set up, i.e. how the individual sub-pages are linked to one another. It is particularly important that crawlers can find all sub-pages quickly and easily when websites have a large number of sub-pages.” And, websites with business blogs tend to have a large number of sub-pages! “For this reason, a website’s homepage needs to have links to the most important sub-pages. Files such as sitemap.xml and robots.txt also help the crawler do its job in this regard.” You can even use plugins like Yoast to generate an XML file of your sitemap once you’ve improved the structure of your website.
A well-developed site structure will make it easy for crawlers to locate and serve your website in search results. Consider designing a “flat” site architecture to push each section and subsection to the top of your sitemap making your content easy for search engines to find. Ideally, website subsections should be no more than two pages deep. Save your third “layer” of depth for your blog posts!
How to Improve Site Structure
Developing a great site structure can be overwhelming; however, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the thought-process and make life a little easier:
- Draw your existing site structure on a whiteboard or piece of paper. Refine and rearrange your sections. You may decide to eliminate some sections entirely or classify them as sub-pages instead. Use a magnetic whiteboard for this. The point is, get organized!
- Purposefully name your domain, sections, and subsections. Don’t select arbitrary names for your domain or sections that you “think” people are searching for. Conduct keyword research and choose section names that correlate the intent of your section to keywords that you “know” people are searching for. For example, don’t name a section “technology audits” if no one is searching for that specific term. Instead, find another term that people are looking for, that also portrays your services or products.
- Evaluate your internal link structure. Look for opportunities to link sub-pages to each other. This helps search engines understand what pages of your website are related and what pages are not. And, linking sub-pages that are closely related to one another increases your website’s ability to rank well.
- If you’ve changed links to align with specific keywords and search terms, be sure to create 301 redirects for all of your old links. This will prevent any old links from displaying “404 Error – Page Not Found” content. Also, if you’ve determined that your domain name needs to change, be sure to create 301 redirects and use the change of address tool in Google Search Console to forward your old domain to the new one. This will prevent you from losing any existing “link juice” that may have been generated to your site in the past.
- Give the search engines time to crawl your new site and reindex your links. Even if you’ve resubmitted a new sitemap, the search engines are crawling millions of pieces of content every day. It will take time to for your new pages to reindex and rank.
How to Increase Blog Traffic
Now that your website is properly structured for search engines, it makes sense to optimize your blog pages. There are several factors to keep in mind when optimizing your blog posts for search engine rankings:
- Consistently create content that improves the personal and professional lives of your target audience. Consistency is key. Post to your blog at least once per week. Anything less and search engines will begin crawling your site less frequently, having a negative impact on your website’s ability to rank well among its competitors. The business-to-business (b2b) benchmark data from HubSpot shows that publishing only 2 blog posts per month generates about the same amount of traffic as posting nothing. However, the same data shows a 25% increase in website traffic when blog posts are published weekly.
- Use the correct permalink structure. Your root URL should be the domain name of your business. The extension should only contain the blog post URL. Look at the URL in your address bar right now if you would like an example. In WordPress, you can easily customize your permalink structure by navigating to the settings section. Just make sure you create 301 redirects for your old permalinks to make sure none of your back links break.
- Be sure to use keywords in your URL and select page titles that are 50-60 characters in length. Also, don’t forget to make proper use header tags and meta descriptions.
- Make sure your sitemap is capable of dynamic updates. In other words, your sitemap index file should automatically update every time new content is added to your website or blog. This will save you the time and hassle of manually submitting new sitemaps daily or weekly.
- Just like the pages of your website, it can take time for blog posts to index. Give the search engines time to index and rank your blog posts. Consider using a tool like Moz to help identify which pages and posts rank the highest over time.
Whether you already have a digital marketing strategy that isn’t working or would like to build one from the ground up, we’re here to help! 8020 Digital Marketing is a professional content marketing agency with over 10 years of business blogging, content strategy, and content creation experience. Contact us to request a free consultation and evaluation of your current content marketing efforts! We’ll evaluate your site structure and demonstrate how you can increase blog traffic for your organization.