Flat Site Architecture is SEO-Friendly – SEO Tip 27

Written on July 6, 2007 – 11:56 am | by Shell Harris |

Why you should use a flat site architecture rather than a deep, or nested, site architecture if SEO is important to your site?

52 SEO TipsIn my previous life as a website designer and HTML developer I loved to have a folder/directory for everything. While I’m not a organized person (ask my wife) I did like keeping my files structured in clearly labeled directories. So nesting directories 4 or 5 levels deep was common practice. When I transitioned to an SEO specialist my ideas on structuring files and site architecture began to change and here is why.

A flat site offers quick access to all the pages within the site. A minimal number of clicks are needed to find all the pages within your site, usually no more than three clicks is ideal. According to the views of the search engines (SEs), less clicks mean higher importance. The view of the SEs are that more important information will be easier to reach. Home page information is the most important, one click from the home page is secondary information and two clicks is tertiary information and so forth.

Think of it like bodies of water. Your home page is the ocean and off of the home page are large rivers and then smaller rivers, then streams, then creeks and brooks and finally the smallest trickle of water is all that is left. Don’t let you products, services or information be at the end of the trickle, drying up eventually. Closer to the ocean is always better and that is how the search engines will rank your pages too.

I’ve seen some site place everything in the root folder and this isn’t good practice either. Structure your sites as to what makes sense, but be aware that more clicks can mean less viewers, both for search engine traffic and visitors on your site.

Shell Harris co-founded Big Oak on January 1, 2004. In a previous career he was a print & web designer and often developed the sites he designed before focusing on his current passion for search engine optimization and Internet marketing. He is an avid researcher, SEO specialist, company mouthpiece and is always looking for the next big thing in Internet Marketing.

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  1. 8 Responses to “Flat Site Architecture is SEO-Friendly – SEO Tip 27”

  2. By Urbanist on Jul 8, 2007 | Reply

    Good advice – but what do you think about submitting something like a Google Sitemap in order to clarify what are important vs. redundant pages on a site. Do you think that helps them sort through things and give more importance to what is important to your site?

  3. By Susan on Jul 8, 2007 | Reply

    I understand that a flat structure can certainly help with fewer clicks, less muss and fuss etc. what I don’t get is how this can be applied to a blog, or more intimately my blog. I am sitting here thinking that everything is really no more than 3 clicks away. The homepage links to all the archives, categories etc. Sorry not trying to be dense just trying to see how I can apply this tip to my particular situation. Thanks.

    I would like to thank you for making my stumbling that much more enjoyable. Your blog made the Life Is Risky Blog Stumbling for today! (Note: The post is updated as I am stumbling. If you don’t see your site listed check back!)

  4. By Shell Harris on Jul 8, 2007 | Reply

    Urbanist, Google will spider your entire site unless you instruct them otherwise. You can code your xml sitemap with numbers relating to the importance of each page. If you have the time to do it it can’t hurt but with a large site it can be time consuming. Building external links to important pages may be a more reliable options as Google will notice more links and usually give more importance to those page.

  5. By Shell Harris on Jul 8, 2007 | Reply

    Susan, if you are using WordPress, which is what I know and recommend you can set up your permalinks to be at the top of the the site architecture. You’ll notice on our blog we follow this convention for our posts (Ex. http://www.bigoakinc.com/blog/create-a-website-sitemap-seo-tip-week-6/).

    I looked at your blog and is appears to be set up this way as well. Everything looks good and I don’t see that you need to change anything. Your directory structure is flat and Google has almost 400 pages indexed for your site. Rest easy, you have done well.

    Thanks for the mention on your site and I do love Stumbling.

  6. By Michael Haislip on Jul 17, 2007 | Reply

    Flat architecture is good usability, too. I hate going to site with nested directories and getting lost. My first instinct is to hack off the extraneous parts of the URL in an attempt to get back to some sort of navigational element. But, usually, I get a 404 because most servers are set to not display directory content by default.

    Was that too complex? It makes sense in my sleep-deprived brain.

  7. By Marios Alexandrou on Jul 28, 2007 | Reply

    Unless I misread this post, it sounds like you’re talking about two different issues with a flat architecture. When discussing architecture you can look at the folder structure and you can look at how many clicks something is away from the home page.

    If something is in 4 sub-folders, but requires just one click from the home page, would you say the site has a flat architecture?

    I believe a while back folder depth mattered, but now it’s largely about click depth.

  8. By Shell Harris on Jul 28, 2007 | Reply

    For SEO purposes I am referring to the depth of your sub-folders. When we began our work with Snagajob.com that is something we changed immediately with good results. There were items that were one click from the home page but 4 levels deep when looking at the URL. That is not good for SEO. Keep your important pages as close to the root as you can with minimal clicks to get there.

  9. By johnn Peterson on Apr 30, 2009 | Reply

    The site Architecture matters for SEO. Because if the navigation is not proper they just leave the web site.. the home page should be accessible through all the pages and all the pages should have the home page link. And make sure that we should not have any dead links in our web sites.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

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This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at contact@bigoakinc.com or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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