Designing a website has never been more important. Learn how to structure a website that is great for your users and for SEO.
Years ago, designing a website was pretty darn easy. During the dark ages of dial-up internet, there wasn’t much variation in design or functionality. After all, when it took five minutes to launch a site, there wasn’t much wiggle room for fancy graphics.
In most cases, you’d publish some content and maybe some clip art for spice. That was pretty much it.
Now, even the most elementary WordPress websites have dynamic images, beautiful UX and countless plugins to make publishing and managing content downright easy. In only a couple of decades, our digital world has become almost unrecognizable to the one ruled by Netscape and AOL promo discs of the 1990s.
While designs and technologies pioneered back then have little utility for today’s WordPress websites, there’s one fundamental pillar that still holds true today: website structure.
With the right WordPress website structure, you will have a website that users and Google value.
Apply Ancient Principles in a Modern World
In the early days of the web, the soul of a successful site rested on its structure. Even now, without logical visual, navigational and contextual structure, it doesn’t matter how many plugins or flashy gimmicks your site uses.
Weak website structure guarantees weak visitor responses.
So, what does this mean for the average WordPress website? In the simplest of explanations, everything.
Remember the days of keyword density? This was when search engines relied on the number of times specific keywords appeared in on-page content.
At the time, it seemed like the best way to connect user queries with relevant websites. What it ended up doing was giving scammers a bigger slice of the digital profit pie. It wasn’t long before search results were littered with keyword-dense articles with literally zero value.
This was a dark time for the internet.
As technology progressed, so did ranking algorithms. While keywords remain an important SEO component, website structure and visitor engagement hold the key to first page rankings. In fact, 2018 has proven this algorithmic evolution.
Fortunately, a strong WordPress structure allows site creators to avoid such spammy and unhelpful ranking shortcuts.
How WordPress Site Structure Influences SEO
Google has shifted into a site-level evaluation model. This relatively new ranking concept analyzes:
- User Experience (UX) Designs
- Content Quality
- Technical Layout (on and off-page)
- Visitor Behavior
Of course, topic relevance and authority are vital, as well. However, what we’re seeing now is a strong preference for WordPress websites with a smart structure from a high quality web host, one that makes sense from both a user as well as an SEO perspective.
Keep in mind, a web host can be inexpensive and still high quality. HostGator is one inexpensive option that comes with an abundance of features including secure-socket certification and newly improved WordPress experience. Over the next few years, expect this trend to strengthen as Google processes its current findings.
Sounds relatively straightforward, right?
Well, as you may already know, sometimes it’s the seemingly easy concepts that prove the hardest to master.
Remember Essential WordPress Structure and Design Elements
When it comes to success on the internet, your site must satisfy both on-page and off-page structure best practices. Regardless of your site’s purpose, audience, or industry, these elements are universally important.
Here’s a brief rundown of what you need to know:
1. Apply On-Page Website Structure Tips
What is “On-Page”? On-page is just a shorthand reference to the visual elements of a website. This is what your visitors see as they interact and engage throughout your site. Follow these steps to structure your website:
- Create a page-by-page visual design blueprint for consistency (also known as branding).
- Integrate images, videos and graphics to further explain website/webpage purpose and topic.
- Maintain visual balance by keeping paragraphs, spacing and other on-page design elements consistent.
- Choose a simplified, but informative, navigation menu to prevent visitors from getting lost or not quickly understanding what other pages/topics are available.
- Structure pages for mobile access first, followed by standard desktop screens.
With a strong on-page website structure, your WordPress site will be user-friendly.
2. Apply Off-Page Website Structure Tips
Visual website structure isn’t the only player in this game. Off-page design is equally as impactful. While mastering off-page structure is tricky, here’s a few tips to get you started:
- Check all your internal and external links to confirm they’re working. Dead links or redirects not only disrupt the experience of your website visitors, but can also hurt your bottom line.
- Focus on designing a simple website organization, which also simplifies building a user-friendly menu.
- Constantly monitor and improve page loading speed.
Remember that Google puts a premium on pages that load quickly. Less than three seconds is the goal. Slower sites risk a SERPS penalty.
Use a content delivery network for faster global delivery of your website. If you use images regularly, image optimization is critical. Remember that all images should be optimized before you upload them to the site.
So, don’t use the handy-dandy image tool in the WordPress dashboard because that means the full-size, speed-killing image is already on site taking up bandwidth and giving Google cause for concern.
3. Use Website Building Software
Does all this make your head spin? You’re not alone. The most common reason aspiring website owners never realize their dream isn’t a lack of desire. It’s really an absence of knowledge.
Because on-page and off-page structure plays such a hefty role in search engine visibility, many assume it’s not worth their time unless they somehow become web design masters.
This may be true if you want to manually code, design and layout of a website. However, it’s not even close to the only option.
Website builders aren’t new. In fact, these handy tools are almost as old as the Internet. And, just like the web, they’ve come a long way since the beginning. From eCommerce storefronts to epic blogs, website builders simplify the complicated.
For e-commerce storefronts, security should also be a key component to building a WordPress site. To ensure all customer data is protected, certain security measures, like the addition of a virtual private network, should be considered.
Consider using basic firewall protection as well as virtual private network (VPN) services that work with all platforms and devices. These protections are fairly commonplace today, and ensure your site's security measures are compatible with all users.
Create a Great WordPress Site
There you have it. While abridged, you now have a solid grasp on what it takes to design and build a successful website. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and create something beautiful!
By remembering the design elements and structuring your WordPress site effectively, you can create a site that users and Google admire.