Site Structure – The Missing Part of the SEO Puzzle

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Mike Escott
Mike Escott has been involved in web design and Internet marketing since 1998. Over the years he has helped many businesses startups to grow and develop their on-line ventures. He enjoys combining his experience in multi-media and internet marketing to create innovative solutions for his clients and specialises in small business SEO. Get SEO tips for free on the small business SEO blog. Looking to list a business in the UK? Try Mikes new online business directory.
Mike Escott
Mike Escott
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SEO Overview
When it comes to SEO there seem to be 2 main camps, those who belong to Team Backlinks and those who belong to Team Content. Until recently Team Backlinks seemed to be ahead but then Google changed the game and those with spammy backlink profiles have seen their rankings plummet… as have those with spammy content.

The trouble with sitting in one of these camps is that you miss the complete picture and so will always hit a glass ceiling by only focusing on one element or the other. The truth is that a site with good content and a good backlink profile will perform much better than those who have one or the other. As with much in life, the key here is to strike a balance. If you are able to create good content for your site then you are also able to create good content for another site and get a good quality link in the bargain.

This reasonable advice will be lost as the argument between the two camps continues to rage but there is a third camp that you barely hear anyone shout about. Team Structure is full of quiet individuals who know that the other two teams are missing something and the reason they will remain quiet about it is because knowledge is power and they have the key that makes a successful SEO campaign… Why would they want to shout about it?

A search engines objective is to return relevant  and useful results to the user. This means that your site just needs to tick two boxes, one for relevance and one for usefulness. These are both subjective to the users search and a search engines job is to see if your site really is worth returning to the user. It will look at keywords and backlinks to help it decide but also it will look at the structure of your site.

Internal linking and site structure plays a huge part in how a search engine determines what your site is about.


The most common internal links are found in your sites navigational menus. How you organise this navigation is very important, it should be logical and tidy without getting too deep. The technique of creating a relevant hierarchy of structure is known as silioing and it’s as simple as placing your content into logical parent/child relationships.

For example:

Wine Homepage > Wines > By Country > Red/White > Product

This structure would lead to a url that is easy for a search engine to understand that could something like this:

For each page in the URL you would need to include a unique and relevant title and description, don’t get lazy with this!  The titles and descriptions should be relevant to each page

and they help the search engines decide what each individual page is all about.

Avoid keyword stuffing the titles and descriptions, just get the main keywords in there and then build and expand on these in the page content.

The idea here is that the search engine will take into account the titles, descriptions and content of each page contained in the URL. We go from a broad site about wine to a page offering Italian wines to a page offering Italian red wine and then to a product page offering a specific Italian red wine. Can there be any room for doubt that the pages contained within this URL are relevant and useful to people searching for Italian wine, Italian red wine and a specific Italian wine?

Internal Anchors

So that’s silo structure and it really helps build relevance but we can’t really clutter up our navigation or URL’s with long tail keywords. Say we wanted to target a bunch of keywords such as:

  • Premier Italian Wines
  • Fine Italian Wines
  • Wine for Italian Food
  • Excellent Italian Wine

We wouldn’t really want to put these in our main navigation as it would get confusing for the user. These are terms we want to rank for without changing our silo structure.

Team Backlinks would rush out and start building backlinks using these anchors but post Panda/Penguin this is a risky strategy!

Team Content would say use these in the content of pages, maybe highlight a few of them with <em> or <strong> tags. This is a less risky strategy but won’t yield the same results as  backlinks, you can only mention a keyword a number of times on a page before you risk it looking spammy.

So what is the answer?

The answer is again in how you link internally. This time though instead of using the navigation we build our own contextual links placed in the sites content. These can and should be placed all over your site and will still look and read naturally, in fact it is natural to link from one wine page to another saying why not try these excellent Italian wines or take a look at our premier Italian wines.

Adding a blog to your site will increase the opportunities you get to build internal anchors.

I have had some amazing results without paying much attention to backlinks or keyword density just buy how I structure a site and set up the internal links… I’m talking page one and two for many keywords within a couple of weeks.

Once this has been done you can then see which keywords could use a little boost by focusing on creating a few high quality backlinks.

I hope this has been helpful for you, you can visit my blog for more SEO Tips at