How often have you attempted to do a little online shopping only to discover that the sites you visited made the experience too difficult? When this happens, poor site architecture is often to blame. And poor site architecture is often the result of ecommerce operators not understanding how important architecture is to ecommerce SEO.
Store architecture is incredibly important. It is one of the most important factors in turning casual visitors into paying customers. If you are not sure why, just compare Amazon with any other ecommerce site. Amazon developers have mastered store architecture.
SEO Is Critical to Ecommerce
There is a common misconception in ecommerce that SEO isn’t so important because Google will just automatically pick up new websites and products and rate them accordingly. Guess what? It is not true. SEO is as important to ecommerce as any other industry. It is so important that specialized ecommerce SEO is now a thing.
Ecommerce SEO is built on four basic principles:
- Optimized product and category pages
- Use of relevant keywords
- On- and off-site link building
- Solid store architecture.
Think of store architecture as a blueprint detailing how a website works. The plans laid out in that blueprint ultimately determine the experience a typical customer has. Strong architecture designed around customer tendencies produces a positive experience. Weak architecture that runs counter to customer tendencies creates a negative experience.
4 Elements of Strong Store Architecture
So, what does strong store architecture look like? The ecommerce SEO experts at Salt Lake City’s Webtek Digital Marketing break it down into four key elements. Here they are:
Hierarchy is the place to start. In the web development arena, hierarchy is the structure through which individual pages are accessed. A typical ecommerce site has a homepage. On that homepage are menu options that could be anything from categories to brand names. Clicking on a menu option redirects the browser to an appropriate page. The way it is all arranged is essentially the site’s hierarchy.
Hierarchy should be designed to make a website easy for search engines to crawl. When search engines can crawl easily, human users can navigate just as easily. Easy navigation is key to making sales.
Speaking of navigation, it needs to make sense. There needs to be some sort of logical cohesion to every navigation step taken. A lack of cohesion makes it harder for search engine algorithms to figure out what is going on. And if they cannot figure it out, customers can’t either.
3. Customer Clicks
When hierarchy and navigation are in order, a customer should be able to find the right products in 2-3 clicks. You might have to go as high as 4 or 5 on rare occasions. But anything more is too much. And once again, crawler experience mimics user experience. Crawlers will pick up on the number of clicks it takes to reach any given destination. The higher number of required clicks, the worse it is for SEO.
4. Landing Pages
Landing pages are often the bridge between an ecommerce site and external search engine links. Moreover, landing pages play into store architecture by affecting navigation. They should lead directly to the products they pertain to, rather than redirecting visitors back to the homepage. A homepage redirect only adds another click.
Site architecture matters to ecommerce SEO. When it is spot on, web crawlers and search engines have an easier time analyzing pages and ranking them accordingly. Combining strong architecture with keyword research, well written product descriptions, strong product titles, etc. is ultimately what results in both sales and long-term growth.