Is your WordPress website a mess?
If your categories are overlapping, your tags redundant, your main menu cluttered, and your old blog posts lost to time, then your website needs some spring cleaning!
It’s understandable: the longer you blog, the more packed full of content your website will be. Eventually all that content gets disorganized, no matter how well you plan for your blog’s growth.
But if you’re losing old blog posts and getting confused by your tags and categories, chances are your visitors are, too.
And confused visitors = lost traffic.
Thinking about cleaning up your website can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve been blogging for a long time.
Don’t get overwhelmed, we’re here to help! Read on to find out how to get organized and keep your audience happy.
Why your website organization matters
Keeping your site organized affects your user experience, gives a good positive impression to your site visitors, and can help you improve your search engine rankings, too.
People who visit your site will get frustrated if they can’t quickly and easily find the information they need. The internet has unfortunately given us very short attention spans, and trained us to expect to be able to access information at the click of a mouse.
If your visitors can’t figure out how to quickly and easily find what they need on your site, they’re likely to click away and try another site instead. (I’m sure you can think of instances where you’ve done the exact same thing!)
A well-organized site will not only keep your visitors on your website, but it’ll also give a more professional impression. A cluttered and difficult to navigate website gives impression that the owner either doesn’t know what they’re doing, or just doesn’t care.
An organized site not only helps your visitors, but also helps them to discover you more easily by improving your SEO in two different ways:
1. Lower bounce rate
Your website’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who land on your website, and then leave the page without navigating further into your site. The lower your bounce rate, the better: that means more people are staying on your website.
A cluttered, disorganized site will increase your bounce rate, because people tend to click the back button when they can’t figure out where to go.
Google and other search engines tend to rank sites lower if they have a high bounce rate, since that’s usually an indicator of a low quality site, or a search result that’s not a good fit for the search.
By organizing your site and making it clear and easy to navigate, you’ll encourage more visitors to stay on your website, thereby lowering your bounce rate and hopefully improving your search engine rankings.
2. Better site structure
One often-overlooked aspect of search engine optimization is site structure, but it’s one of the most important elements of good SEO.
You can do all the keyword research and blog post optimization you want, but if the underlying structure of your website is disorganized and chaotic, that’s going to hurt your rankings.
That’s because search engines use bots to crawl your website through links. If the bots can’t understand your site structure, or can’t reach certain pages easily, those pages will be ranked poorly, or not at all.
By giving your website a clear and logical structure, you can make it easier for the bots to understand your website and rank each page appropriately.
What is good site structure?
What makes site structure “good” or “bad”?
Generally speaking, you want to keep your site balanced and organized like a tree, and make sure that every page is linked and easily accessible:
More specifically, here are some best practices you can follow in keeping your site organized:
1. Simplify your main menu
Take a close look at your main navigational menu and think about how you might be able to simplify it.
You don’t need to include every page in your main menu! There are many ways to get to different pages on your site, so every single one doesn’t need to be in the main menu. Yoast has a great article on figuring out the best structure for your main menu.
2. Review your categories and tags
If you’ve been blogging for a while, chances are your categories and tags will need an update. It’s easy for them to get out of hand the longer you blog. Categories and tags are an important way to navigate your website for both visitors and search engines.
Check out our post on How To Clean Up Your WordPress Tags for details on exactly how to do this.
3. Link your blog posts together
Internal links within blog posts are a great way to help your visitors navigate, keep them interested and on your website, and help search engines to know how posts are related. Whenever you write a new post, make sure to use internal links to reference a few older posts, too. If you have some extra time to clean up your blog, go through your older posts and link them to related newer posts.
Personally, I think Barking Up the Wrong Tree has great internal links. Interspersed within the content of each post, he uses parenthetical asides to invite you to read more about related topics:
4. Use breadcrumbs for more complex sites
If your site has sub categories and sub pages, you should implement breadcrumbs for easier navigation. The Yoast SEO plugin has a quick and easy way to implement this.
5. Make every page easily accessible
Don’t let your posts and pages get buried! Rand Fishkin of Moz recommends that no more than 4 clicks should be required to navigate from any one page to any other on the site.
6. Clean up dead ends
404 errors are no fun for users, and a large number of errors can harm your search engine rankings. Periodically scan your website for 404 errors and fix them with redirects. When you update any permalinks, categories, tags, etc. on your website, be sure to implement a redirect to the new URL.
Plugins you can use for this include:
- Broken Link Checker: Scan your website for 404 errors.
- Redirection: Easily manage all redirections on your site.
- Yoast SEO Premium: The premium version of the industry standard SEO plugin includes a redirect tool.
7. Consider a complete content audit
If your website is a huge labyrinth of content, and you can’t even remember everything that’s on it, you might want to consider planning a complete content audit. The audit will help you determine what pages and posts need updating, and what structure changes you may need to implement for better organization.
Moz has a good content audit step-by-step tutorial that’ll get you started.
Get started on a better site structure today!
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be! Organizing your site can be a big process, but you can get started easily by using our best practices as a checklist. You’ll find that even making simple changes, like reorganizing your menu, can make a big difference.