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6 site structure mistakes and how to avoid them!

If you take your SEO and users seriously, you’ll be working on a kick-ass site structure. But, setting up a decent site structure can be challenging. Maintaining a decent site structure when your site is growing, is even harder. With all these new pages on your site, it’s easy to overlook something or make a mistake in your structure. In this post, I will share 6 common site structure mistakes and how to avoid them!

Table of contents

Don’t know where to start improving your site’s structure? Our practical and complete site structure training is what you need! This training is part of our Content SEO training subscriptions.

1. Hiding your cornerstones

Your most important articles, which are your cornerstones, should not be hidden away. Cornerstone articles are the articles that you’re most proud of; that most clearly reflect the mission and topics of your website. But some people forget to link to these articles and that’s definitely a site structure mistake you don’t want to make. If an article receives no or only a few internal links, search engines will have a more difficult time finding it and valuing it (as search engines follow links). Therefore, Google will regard these articles as less important, and rank them accordingly.

Solution: link to your cornerstones

First of all, make sure to link to your cornerstone articles. This means mentioning them in your other blog posts that are related to this topic. Our internal linking tool can help you by suggesting these cornerstones (and other relevant links) while you’re writing.

Also, make sure these cornerstone articles are visible and easy to find for your site visitors. Ideally, you should be able to navigate to your cornerstone articles in just one or two clicks from the homepage.

Although they’re important for user experience and SEO, some people don’t use breadcrumbs on their site. Which is another mistake when it comes to site structure. Because breadcrumbs show how a page fits into the structure of your site and allow users to easily navigate your site. Also, breadcrumbs help search engines determine the structure of your site.

Solution: add those breadcrumbs

There are a few ways you can add breadcrumbs to your site. If you use WordPress, you can use a breadcrumb plugin or you can let Yoast SEO add them for you! Our plugin handles everything necessary to add your breadcrumbs to your site and to get them ready for Google.

3. Huge categories

As a rule of thumb, your categories should be relatively similar in size. But, what tends to happen is that people write about one subject way more often than other subjects. Without noticing it. As a result, one category can slowly grow much larger than other categories. When this happens, your site becomes unbalanced. Plus, you’ll have a harder time ranking with blog posts when they’re part of a very large category.

Solution: split categories

When you realize one of your categories is getting much bigger than the rest, split it in two (or three). To keep categories from becoming too big, make sure to check the size of your categories every now and then. Especially if you write a lot of blog posts. Read more about how to add and maintain categories on your site.

4. Using too many tags

Be mindful of the tags you create and make sure to tag your posts properly. Some people want to make tags very specific. But if every post receives one or multiple new unique tag(s), you’re overdoing it. You’re not adding structure, because posts don’t become grouped or linked. So, think about the tags you create and make sure more than one of your current (or future) posts will relate to this tag.

Solution: use tags in moderation

This site structure mistake is easily fixed. Make sure that tags are used more than once or twice, and that tags group articles together that really belong together. You should also ensure that visitors can find the tags somewhere, preferably at the bottom of your article. Tags are useful for your visitors (and not just for Google) to read more about the same topic.

Read more: Using category and tag pages for SEO »

5. Not visualizing your site structure

A final site structure mistake people make is forgetting to visualize their site’s structure. Visitors want to be able to find stuff on your website with ease. The main categories of your blog should all have a place in the menu on your homepage. But don’t create too many categories, or your menu will get cluttered. A menu should give a clear overview and reflect the structure of your site. Ideally, the menu helps visitors understand how your website is structured.

Solution: optimize your menu and think about UX

To create a good and clear overview of your site, spend some time on optimizing your menu. Although the perfect menu depends on your site, keep in mind which pages you definitely want to add to your menu and make sure not to add too many others. This post on optimizing your site menu for users and SEO will help you with this. Also, make sure to think about what your visitors are looking for and how you can help them navigate through your site. By thinking about User eXperience (UX), creating a clear site structure for your users becomes much easier.

Keep reading: Our blog posts on User eXperience »

6. Not linking to your underlying pages

A clean and simple menu is great for user experience but does pose the problem of not being able to directly link users to all your pages. That’s where hierarchical post types come in. These post types allow you to bring different levels in your pages, with a parent page on top, followed by child pages underneath and possibly even grandchild pages under that. However, it is important to show this structure to your users by linking to these child pages. Something a lot of people forget to do!

Solution: link to child pages and sibling pages

Link to your underlying child pages from a parent page to help users navigate your site. But also, link between child pages of the same parent page as they’re related to each other. This doesn’t just show users the connection between your content, it also helps search engines understand these connections and what entities you’re talking about. So, make sure to link between these hierarchical pages. This becomes super easy with the new internal linking blocks in Yoast SEO Premium.

Read on: Linking parent and child pages for SEO »

Site structure mistakes: fix them!

Site structure is an essential aspect of any proper SEO strategy. The structure of your website shows Google what articles and pages are most important. With your site’s structure, you can influence which articles will rank highest in the search engines. But it also helps your users navigate the different pages on your site. So, it’s important to do it right. Especially when you add a lot of content, it’s important to keep an eye on the structure of your site and any possible mistakes or issues that might arise. Try to stay on top! And while you’re at it, check for other common SEO mistakes as well.

Did we overlook a site structure mistake that you’ve encountered more than once? Feel free to share it with us in the comments!

Keep on reading: Site structure: the ultimate guide »


16 Responses to 6 site structure mistakes and how to avoid them!

  1. Smriti Goel
    Smriti Goel  • 4 months ago

    Nice article! Greatly summaries common SEO mistakes. I liked the part on visualizing site structure. As written evidently, a good site structure allows google crawler to navigate through the website effectively, resulting in higher rank for the site. Hence, it is also important to use sitemaps, provided as built-in feature by Youst.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 months ago

      Thanks for your comment, Smriti!

  2. Calson James
    Calson James  • 5 months ago

    Hi thank you for the post. I recently uninstalled a few plugins from my site and i mistakenly did same with yoast plugins, will all my settings still be active now that i reinstalled ?

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 months ago

      Hi there! Uninstalling the plugin does not remove Yoast SEO data from your database so I expect you will be able to reinstall and find your setting as they were :) Good luck and let us know if any issues come up!

  3. James Johnson
    James Johnson  • 5 months ago

    To whosoever owning a website, it becomes difficult to keep a track of everything, and this blog comes of immense help. Keeping the website lag-free and mentioning all the things that might come in between the free-flowing activities because of the site structure mistakes is an essential part. This blog is thoroughly researched and does its best in mentioning all the things that might be required to get rid of all such site structure mistakes and make your website follow all the SEO rules and regulations. This has been an enjoyable read.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 5 months ago

      Thanks, James!

  4. Yıldırım Sertbaş
    Yıldırım Sertbaş  • 5 months ago

    Hi,

    Great post as always. When I started my website business, the most common mistakes I made were to use too many tags and not to delete the sample page that comes with wordpress by default.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 5 months ago

      Hi there, Yıldırım! Forgetting to delete default sample pages such as the ‘Sample page’ and the ‘Hello World’ post is definitely a common mistake we’ve seen a few times. Good addition :)

  5. rochaksite
    rochaksite  • 5 months ago

    very helpful information thanks for sharing

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 5 months ago

      You’re welcome!

  6. Melissa Gerke
    Melissa Gerke  • 5 months ago

    Hi Marieke,

    Keeping blog categories about the same size is a good reminder. I always think of keeping shopping categories about the same size, not blog categories.
    How important are tags for SEO?

    Thanks for the informative blog post,

    Melissa

  7. Samuel Ugboke
    Samuel Ugboke  • 5 months ago

    Can i transfer my rank maths seo settings back to yoast?

  8. Christina Cherry
    Christina Cherry  • 5 months ago

    The new internal linking blocks are giving 12 redundant bullet points below the list of siblings pages that I can’t delete

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 5 months ago

      Hi Christina. That’s weird? Do you have an example of that? You can also contact our support team if you’re running into trouble.