Jim Kensicki

As product research becomes almost synonymous with typing a query, SEO is increasingly a focus for businesses. In fact, as Brafton has reported, 86 percent of marketers are investing in SEO this year. As Google has said, the top focus for SEO marketing should be investing in quality content.

Of course, it’s also important to make sure your content is distributed across your site in a search-friendly fashion.

Many small businesses make the mistake of building up their websites with rich content without planning the infrastructure in advance. Instead, create a wireframe (a visual representation) of your website’s architecture to ensure that content is logically populated throughout your site. This makes it easier for visitors and search engines to navigate.

Why a wireframe?
You can think of a website as having different silos or categories, with the content naturally falling into one of them. You have to create this architecture, and if you don’t set categories first it may be difficult to keep focused in your content creation and/or classify content you develop down the road. (If content doesn’t seem to naturally fit into a category on your site, maybe you need to evaluate how relevant it is to your target audience!)

Think of this like setting the layout of your site as if it’s a physical place. Consider going to a grocery store: The tomato sauce should go next to the pasta, and the store clerk should keep the grated cheese nearby (because who doesn’t put that on their pasta?). It’s irritating when you’re trying to find something and it’s not where it’s supposed to be. Maybe you’ll leave before picking up that cheese you wanted if you don’t see it right away. The same is true for site visitors who can’t find relevant landing pages, and it’s true for search engine spiders as well – that’s why creating a wireframe is important.

Building your site: Meaningful content in a shallow arrangement
It’s important that you have meaningful, engaging site content arranged in a shallow structure. When I say shallow, I mean making web pages accessible in under four clicks for consumers or under four links for search bots. You want to put a cap on the time it takes to navigate to even the deepest level of a given category.

You can think of your wireframe almost like a pyramid. You have your homepage, and then you can have a maximum of 100 links going to the pages on the “first level.” (Most sites won’t be this big – 100 links per level is probably akin to Amazon.com’s structure.) The pages on level one can each have a maximum of 100 links going into level two. And you can continue linking down deeper, but I recommend capping it at three levels.

Unless you have a very high page rank, search engines aren’t going to bother crawling any deeper than the third level, meaning any deeper content isn’t going to get indexed. Plus, creating more levels also means anyone who needs to get to something on level five, for example, needs to be clicking through five+ pages to find what they want.

Building levels
The “levels” I refer to can be anything relevant to your site content. You’ve got your homepage, then relevant evergreen landing pages might be on level one. For instance, maybe this is where you have an “about us” page.

Maybe you include a link to your company blog on the homepage. The blog homepage would be level one, then blog categories with specific articles would be the next phase of the wireframe.

Or maybe one of your level one landing pages is a products page, where you provide an overview of the types of products you provide. Then, level two can be landing pages for individual items you sell with rich descriptions and pricing info.

The link side of levels
I mentioned that you’d want to limit the number of links on a given level to no more than 100 per page as you construct your wireframe. So if you’re starting with 100 pages on level one off of the homepage, you can still have more than 1 million pages of content at a shallow enough configuration for search engine bots to find and cache.

When a site is crawled (which ultimately translates into a site becoming indexed and discoverable in search engines), the search spider is looking for links first. A bot “crawls” through the site saving links to new pages to come back to later, and it goes on to review the site in its entirety. Since a bot will only follow 50 to 100 links per page at most, having more links could mean entire sections of your website will be overlooked.

Mapping out your levels and drawing links for yourself will help you make sure the site is balanced and easy to crawl.

Once your wireframe is set, you can start focusing on the content marketing strategy you use to flesh out your site. The wireframe is the skeleton, and then the content is the meat and potatoes that will fuel leads and conversions on your site. Happy publishing.