Improve your site's structure in 4 simple steps

Optimizing your site structure should be an important aspect of your SEO strategy. A good site structure is of crucial importance for your SEO, as it makes it easier for both your users and Google to navigate your site. But how do you improve a site’s structure? Where do you start, and how do you keep an eye on the structure of your site if it’s growing? In this post, I’ll teach you to improve your site’s structure in 4 simple steps.

Yoast SEO site structure features

We thought a lot about how to translate the advice we give on improving your site’s structure into useful features for our plugin over the past years. This resulted in three features (and we’re still thinking about new ones).

  • One of the features we released was the internal linking feature, which is part of Yoast SEO Premium. The internal linking tool helps you to figure out which articles you should be linking to. We’re particularly fond of this feature; it just makes building a proper site structure so much faster and easier!
  • Another feature for site structure, the cornerstone content analysis, will help you write awesome cornerstone content articles and get those articles in a central position in your linking structure.
  • The third feature, the text link counter allows you to check which articles need more internal links.

Combined, these site structure features provide you with a powerful toolset for improving your site structure. Let’s have a look at how to use them in each step!

Step 1: Update and improve your cornerstones

Your cornerstone content consists of the most important articles on your site: the ones you want people to read; the ones you want to rank with in Google. For all cornerstone content articles, you should check the box in the Yoast snippet preview meta box.

Enabling the cornerstone analysis in Yoast SEO
Mark your most important articles as cornerstone content in Yoast SEO to get a stricter analysis – and better optimized content as a result!

Once you’ve checked that box, your content will be assessed more strictly by our readability analysis. You may wonder why we’re so fussy about cornerstone content. The answer to that question is this: for cornerstone articles you should raise the bar, because they’re very important! They should be better than your other articles and, therefore, demand more of your writing skills. Our cornerstone analysis will help you to raise your standards (and stick to them). It will be harder to score that green bullet. You have to do all the important things right!

Read more: How to use Yoast SEO for your cornerstone content strategy »

Step 2: Link to those cornerstones!

The second step to improving your site’s structure is to ensure that blog posts about a certain topic all link to your most important article about that topic. Use the text link counter to see whether your cornerstones have enough links. In your post overview, you can select your cornerstone articles.

The text link counter in the post overview instantly makes clear which posts need more internal links.

In our example, the Ultimate guide to small business SEO has fewer internal links to it (9, to be exact) than our other two ultimate guides (16 and 31), so we should look into that. It’s easy to lose sight of your internal link distribution, but this tool allows you to steadily work through your cornerstone posts. Use your internal search function and search for the keyword of your cornerstone article. The posts that come up in this search query should be linking to your cornerstones. So, check if that’s the case and add links if they’re not there yet!

Even easier internal linking with Yoast’s internal linking tool

Looking up relevant posts manually probably sounds like a bit of a hassle. Luckily, Yoast SEO Premium makes it even easier with its internal linking feature! It works in two ways. Of course, first and foremost, it reminds you to link to your cornerstones as you’re writing new content. But you can also open cornerstone articles with few links and look at the suggestions of the Yoast internal linking feature. The articles our internal linking tool suggests are great posts to add links to your cornerstones. You should go through these articles one by one and add these links to your cornerstone post for a relevant passage, with a good anchor text.

Do these articles relevant to your cornerstone post also link to it? Time to check and add links!

Step 3: Improve the structure of orphaned articles

Once you’ve improved your cornerstone articles and made sure you’ve added links from all related posts to those cornerstones, it’s time to make sure that there is no orphaned content on your site. Orphaned articles are posts or pages that don’t get any internal links. They are hard to find on your site, for both your audience and by Google. To easily identify orphaned articles, Yoast SEO Premium has the orphaned content filter, which instantly shows you all posts without internal links to them. Alternatively, you can use our text link counter to see which posts have no internal links to them.

The orphaned content filter shows you all posts that need some internal links.

Open these posts and (again, if you use Yoast SEO Premium) check the suggestions of the internal linking tool. Using the tool, you can make a list of posts that should be linking to your orphaned posts. After that, you can open those similar posts and add links to your orphaned posts. You can also use the search function to find relevant posts to link to your orphaned article.

Step 4: Improve those dead ends!

Every post should have suggestions for further reading. After all, you want people to stay on your website. Don’t just go adding random links to every post: Suggestions should always be on topic. People reading about ballet shoes are probably interested in ballet shoes. So, offer them more reading material on ballet or on ballet shoes, but don’t bore them with karate.

Open your post overview and sort your posts by the number of internal links in the post, using our text link counter.

Open the posts with fewest internal links. Add links to similar posts using our internal linking tool, in the same way as described above. It’s so easy and it will increase the time people spend on your site considerably.

Keep reading: Internal linking for SEO: why and how »

Time to improve your site’s structure!

Agreed, it is a bit of work. But if you set to mind to it, follow these 4 steps, and use the Yoast SEO site structure features, you’ll be able to improve your site’s structure significantly. That’s most definitely going to result in longer visits by your readers and in higher rankings in Google. Well worth the effort, wouldn’t you say?

Read on: Site structure: the ultimate guide »