Technical SEO

Site Architecture

Shahid Maqbool

By Shahid Maqbool
On Jul 5, 2023

Site Architecture

What is Site Architecture?

Website Architecture - also called Site Structure - refers to the way your website is structured. It includes how your web pages - such as home page, product pages, and blog posts - are organized and interlinked, and how users and search engines can navigate through them to find the information they need.

Why is website architecture important?

Website architecture is important for several reasons:

User Experience (UX)

A well-structured website makes it easier for visitors to navigate and find the information they are looking for.

Good website architecture can lead to a more enjoyable and satisfying user experience, which can encourage visitors to spend more time on the site, reducing bounce rates and increasing conversions.


Search engines, like Google, take a website's architecture into account when indexing and ranking web pages.

Websites with clear, logical structures are easier for search engine crawlers to navigate and index, which can improve the site's visibility in search engine results pages.


A well-designed website architecture can accommodate growth more easily.

As you add more content to your site, good architecture can help ensure that the new pages are integrated smoothly and logically into the existing site structure, rather than becoming a confusing, disorganized mess.


Website architecture can impact the performance and load time of a website.

The efficient architecture ensures that data is organized and can be retrieved in an effective and timely manner. Slow websites can frustrate users and lead to higher bounce rates.


When a website has a sound and logical architecture, it’s easier to manage and maintain.

Changes, updates, or fixes can be implemented more easily because you have a clear understanding of how the different parts of your website are interconnected.

Types of website architecture 

There are the following main types of website structures:

Linear, or Sequential Structure

In a linear or sequential website structure, web pages are linked in a specific order, one after the other, like a chain.

Each page has a direct link to the next page in the sequence, guiding users along a predefined path.

This type of structure is commonly used in online tutorials, surveys, or e-commerce checkouts where a user needs to complete steps in a specific order.

Network or Web-Linked Structure

A network or web-linked structure, also known as a non-linear structure, allows users to navigate freely between pages. Each page is interconnected with multiple other pages, rather than just the next and previous ones.

This structure is common on websites like Wikipedia, where users are encouraged to explore related topics based on their interests.

Hierarchical or Tree-like Structure

Hierarchical or tree-like structures are the most common type of website structure. Here, all pages stem from a home page, branching out into different sections, which can further branch out into sub-sections.

Users can navigate from general to specific information following these branches. This structure is useful for organizing large amounts of content into logical, manageable categories.

Each type of structure has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice depends on the type and amount of content on the website, as well as the desired user experience.

In reality, many websites use a combination of these structures to meet their specific needs.

Features of a good website architecture

A good website architecture must have the following features:

  • Topically Related Content: Content that relates to the same topic is grouped together. This aids in navigation and understanding.

  • Logical Hierarchy: The groups of related content are organized in a logical and easily understandable hierarchy.

  • Highlight Key Pages: Most important pages are easy to find and access.

  • Every page is less than 4 clicks away: Ideally, use a website architecture, where any page can be reached in less than four clicks. This enhances user experience as it is easier to navigate.

  • Avoid Orphan Pages: Each significant page has at least one internal link from another page on your site. Pages without internal links are known as orphan pages and should be avoided, as they are difficult for search engines to access and rank.

  • Implement Topic Clusters: Use topic clusters, where groups of content revolve around the same topic and link to one another. This provides a well-structured, user-friendly grouping of related web pages under relevant categories. It helps improve user experience and search engine understanding of the context and relationship between the pages.

How to plan your website architecture?

Here is how you can plan your website architecture in a step-by-step manner:

Outline Your Project Scope

The scope of the project refers to the work required to deliver the website, including all its features and functionalities.

It's important to outline all aspects of the project, from the number of pages and type of content to the necessary technologies and resources.

A clear definition of the project scope sets expectations and provides a roadmap for the project's completion.

Identify Your Goals

Every website should have clear goals that guide its design and structure. Are you trying to sell a product, provide information, or collect contact information from potential leads? Maybe all three?

Identifying these goals upfront will influence every subsequent decision in the website architecture planning process.

Know Your Target Audience

Knowing who your website is for is crucial. Your target audience will influence your website's design, structure, and content.

Different audiences have different preferences and needs, so it's important to understand these in order to create a website that meets their expectations and enhances their user experience.

Content Audit

If you have an existing website, review your content to determine what's working, what isn't, and what can be improved.

This could involve analyzing metrics such as bounce rate, time on page, and conversion rates. If you don't have an existing site, identify the key content that will be needed to meet your objectives and satisfy user needs.

Conduct Keyword Research

By researching these keywords, you can understand what your audience is interested in and looking for.

These keywords can then be incorporated into your website's content and structure to help improve your website's visibility in search engine results.

Create a Site Map

This is a visual representation of your website’s architecture, showing the hierarchy of your pages.

This is about planning how your website's pages and content will be organized and interlinked. This includes creating a sitemap, deciding on navigation menus, and implementing an internal linking strategy.

A well-planned site structure and information hierarchy can improve user experience and search engine optimization by making it easier for users and search engines to find and understand your content.


Once you are happy with the architecture plan, the actual design and development process can begin. It's essential to work closely with the development team to ensure that your plan is correctly translated into the final website.


Once the site is live, continually monitor it to see how users interact with it. Use tools like Google Analytics to gather data on user behavior, and make changes and improvements as needed.

Website design is an ongoing process, and your site architecture may need to evolve as your business grows or as user needs and behaviours change.

Website architecture best practices

Below are a few best practices to create a good website architecture:

Create a simple navigation menu

The top-level navigation menu is the first thing most visitors interact with on a website. It should clearly categorize the main areas of your site and direct users to key pages.

simple navigation menu - Site Architecture

It's important to limit the number of items on this menu, as having too many can overwhelm users.

Dropdown or slide-out menus can be used for sites with many pages, but remember to keep the design clean and simple to ensure user-friendliness.

The menu should be intuitive, with titles that accurately reflect the content on the respective pages.

Keep URLs simple and user-friendly

Clear, concise URLs help users and search engines understand what a page is about.

Keep URLs simple and user-friendly - Site Architecture

For users, a simple URL is easy to read and remember. For search engines, a URL with keywords can provide an understanding of the page's content.

Avoid long URLs, and use hyphens to separate words. Try to mirror your site's navigation hierarchy in your URLs to show the depth of the page in the site's architecture.

Use a flat site architecture

In a flat site architecture, all pages on the site are just a few clicks away from each other. This contrasts with a deep architecture where some pages are nested multiple layers deep.

Flat architecture is generally more user-friendly because it enables users to reach their desired page quickly.

For search engines, the flat architecture makes it easier to crawl and index all the pages on the site, improving its visibility in search results.

Keep in mind a flat site structure is most beneficial for smaller to medium-sized websites with fewer pages.

It's ideal for these sites because it allows users and search engine crawlers to reach any page within a few clicks from the homepage.

However, flat architecture can also be used effectively in larger sites when combined with good categorization, proper use of tags, and effective internal linking.

Analyze your competitors 

This involves studying successful websites in your industry to understand their structure, content organization, navigation, etc.

This can provide valuable insights and ideas for your own site. Remember, it's not about copying, but rather about learning from their strategies and adapting what works for your own site.

Keep it consistent

Consistency in website design involves maintaining the same layout, fonts, colours, button styles, and navigation across all pages.

This creates a seamless experience for users as they navigate through different pages and increases the professional look of the site.

A consistent interface also minimizes confusion, making it easier for visitors to interact with the site and find the information they need.

Internal linking using pillar content model

This strategy involves creating comprehensive 'pillar' content that provides a broad overview of a specific topic, and 'cluster' content that delves into subtopics in more detail.

All the cluster pages link back to the pillar page, establishing a web of interconnectivity.

For users, this provides a well-organized, in-depth resource for a given topic. For search engines, this model signifies the interrelationship between the pages, potentially improving the ranking of these interconnected pages.

The pillar-cluster model is an effective content strategy for businesses or websites that cover a variety of related topics.

This approach is especially useful in fields that have multiple interconnected topics where each topic warrants its own comprehensive coverage.

By linking more narrowly focused cluster content back to a broader pillar page, you can guide users towards more detailed information on sub-topics of interest, while also sending clear signals to search engines about the relationship between your content pieces, potentially improving your site's SEO.

The best website architecture combines pillar pages and cluster content, which according to John Muller is a best practice and they call it a pyramid structure.

A pyramid structure helps us better understand the context of individual pages within the site. So in particular, if we know this category is associated with these other subcategories, then that’s a clear connection that we have between those parts. That helps us better understand how they are connected and how they work together.

Use of table of contents

TOC is most beneficial in long-form content such as detailed articles, guides, or resources covering multiple topics.

The TOC is usually positioned at the top or left side of the page - providing an overview of the content and enabling users to navigate directly to specific sections.

For the best user experience and to maintain consistency throughout your site, the design and formatting of your TOC should align with the overall style of your website.

Use breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are secondary navigation aids that show users their current location in relation to the site's hierarchy. They usually appear at the top of a page, showing the path from the homepage to the current page.

For users, breadcrumbs significantly enhance the navigability of the site, especially when dealing with multiple layers of content.

They provide a straightforward way to trace back to previous pages without having to rely on the browser's 'Back' button.

This allows users to understand their location within the site's hierarchy and quickly move between levels of the site. For search engines, breadcrumbs provide additional information about the site's structure.

Silo structure

A silo structure is an effective method of content organization. Here, related content is grouped into distinct sections, also known as 'silos', each of which focuses on a specific topic or category.

These silos are comprised of interlinked pages that allow users to easily navigate and find information within a particular area of interest and also encourage them to explore more within the same topic area.

This type of structure not only aids user navigation but also serves as a signal to search engines about the different areas of topical expertise that the website possesses.

This clearly defined and interconnected structure aids search engines in understanding the website's content, potentially improving the site's ranking for queries related to those topics.

Create an HTML and XML sitemap

An HTML sitemap is a webpage that lists all the pages on a website, often grouped into categories. It's a helpful tool for users to find specific pages on your site.

An XML sitemap is a file created for search engines. It provides a roadmap of all the pages on your site that are available for crawling.

Both types of sitemaps improve the discoverability of your site's content for users and search engines, contributing to an enhanced user experience and better SEO performance.


Website architecture refers to the design and planning of a website's structure, including how pages and content are organized and interlinked.

It serves as a map that guides users and search engines through the site. A well-planned website architecture is essential for delivering a positive user experience and achieving good search engine rankings.

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