Creating a flat site architecture is a crucial step to laying the foundation for a successful search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. Your site’s architecture can play a large role in the ranking of your website or blog, and also in the number of pages that are indexed by the search engines.
Having a flat site structure also assists visitors when they come to your site… It can help with user interaction, and create a user-friendly site.
So, what is Flat Site Architecture?
Your site’s architecture refers to the structure of your website as a whole, and the way that pages are connected within your site. A better way of understanding flat site architecture would be to say… it is the number of clicks it would take to reach the deepest pages of your site.
Look at the image example below, which will show the differences between deep site architecture and flat site architecture.
The Differences between Deep and Flat Site Architecture are as Follows:
Deep Architecture – You will lose link juice (bits of PageRank) the deeper you go. You will spread whatever link juice your site has all the way down the pages. The more clicks you have to get to the lower pages, the more link juice you are filtering, leaving less juice for the more important hierarchy, the top-end pages that people see and the search-engines rank first.
If the majority of your content is 3 or 4 clicks down from the home page, the search engines will see these lower pages as less important, and you may not even have these pages indexed.
Flat Site Architecture – The flatter your site structure is, the greater the chances of boosting your rankings, plus it will insure your pages remain in the search engine index to be found by Internet searchers.
If you happen to have a large site, and changing your site’s architectural structure is an impossible task, make sure you have an HTML sitemap on your website, as Rand states in his video. This can also help you get more pages indexed, and aid in the building of a flat site structure.
If you watched the video, and wonder what Rand was referring to with his statement “go with a sitemap, not an XML sitemap, but the classic HTML sitemap”, please follow the link to the sitemap definitions for a better understanding.
For bloggers, if you have an XML sitemap for the search engine spiders, that is awesome. You should have one, but Rand was referring to an HTML sitemap. Your WordPress blog theme should have an area to add an HTML sitemap link to your site… Mine was located under Page Attributes > Template (drop-down window on the right side) in the ‘Page Editing’ area.
Having a link to your sitemap from the home page will help your indexing possibilities, because the Google spider will see this page as important, and begin its crawl of each link on the sitemap page.
Rand also spoke briefly in the video about 100 links per page maximum, according to the Google algorithm guidelines.
Since the subject of this article is to show the importance of flattening your site’s architectural structure, and many experts believe that this is part of it, it might be a wise idea to follow the Google recommendation of 100 links or less per page, and remove non-relevant links from your site.
If you’d like to check the quantity of links you have to any given page on your site, use the Meta Tags Analyzer tool, which will not only show you on-page optimization errors and how to fix them, but it will also show you the quantity of links you have on that particular page that you tested.
Don’t feel bad if you have more than 100 links on any given page… I too am guilty; my home page has 119 links according to the Meta tag, a web page analyzer tool.
One last piece of advice to help with the aid of flattening your site’s architectural structure…
Interlinking Between Your Pages with Anchor Text Links!
Linking between articles on your site, also known as cross-linking, as I briefly mentioned in my “Top 10 On-Page Optimization Factors to NEVER Forget” article, # 6, is a method that will aid in the flattening of your site’s structure.
This means inter-linking between related articles with anchor text at each level of depth of your site… To learn how, follow the link. If you have articles or videos on your blog that you previously created on a similar subject that you are speaking of in your current article, link to them.
This method will spread the link juice of your article to other pages on your site. This will contribute to the rankings of that page, allowing it to move up the search engine results pages, and flatten your site’s architecture, all at the same time… It’s a Win/Win situation!
Closing Comments about Flat Site Architecture… a Recap!
- Add an HTML sitemap to your site’s home page (this link should be accessible from any page).
- Cross link, using anchor text, to other related pages, for each and every article that you write.
- Reduce the number of links on your pages to less than 100 if possible; start by using the FREE Meta Tags Analyzer tool (link above).
As I have said before… “SEO is a Comprehensive Approach to Improving Your Search-Engine Rankings. As Such, it requires attention to your whole site. It Does Little Good to Optimize Portions of Your Site and Leave Other Areas Lacking the Same Attention to Detail. If You Feel That Your Site is in Need of Optimizing, Do it Right and Make Sure You Hit ALL of the Elements As You Go. “
One very important step is the understanding of SEO basics… Creating a flat site architecture is no less important than other optimizing elements. Arming yourself with the basic knowledge of SEO can take your site to a whole new level in the search-engine results pages.