The site structure of an eCommerce website is very important. It has to be easy to navigate, easy to crawl (by search engines) and is the starting point to offer a great experience to your users.
A large e-commerce website can have many pages and it is necessary to have a solid structure so that users can find what they are looking for, in as few clicks as possible.
Why is ecommerce site structure important?
A good eCommerce site structure has a number of hidden benefits to offer:
Velocity: If you have any experience with website speed optimizationYou know that when it comes to adjusting the loading speed of your website, you have to deal with a number of things.
Also, search engine crawlers can crawl your website faster, discover more pages, and this, in turn, can have a huge impact on your SEO efforts.
Site Links: Site links are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPS) when someone searches for your business name on Google.
In the case of an eCommerce store, the sitelinks will display your main categories, like this example from Best Buy.
Sitelinks are great for SEO. Not only can they drive more clicks to the most important pages on your website, but they’re also good for your brand.
The problem is that you can’t specify which pages of your website to include as sitelinks.
It is up to Google to decide what to display in your snippet. You can use the Google Search Console (sitelinks menu) to exclude pages that don’t show up as sitelinks, but not to include them.
A poor site structure will minimize your chances of getting sitelinks in the SERPS, while a good site structure will help Google select the right pages to display as sitelinks along with their title and description.
More conversions: The ultimate goal of any online store is to generate more sales.
To make sales, you need to “nudge” your leads down the sales funnel, which can include a number of other conversions (sign up for newsletters, leads, etc.).
A well-organized and defined site structure is crucial for this process to work as planned.
Visitors should easily find what they are looking for without having to click too many times and without spending more time than necessary on a page.
6 Steps to Create the Site Structure for Your Ecommerce Store
Let’s walk through the steps to create an SEO-optimized structure for your ecommerce store.
Step 1: Create a hierarchical structure with no more than 3 levels
An eCommerce website should have a hierarchical structure.
Your home page is at the top of the hierarchy and below it you may have 2-3 levels before you reach the bottom of the hierarchy – your product pages.
To help you visualize what a hierarchical structure looks like, take a look at the following diagram.
The home page is at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the main categories (level 1), subcategories (level 2), and finally the product pages (level 3).
The best way to decide how to create your structure is to take into account the result of your keyword research process.
If you haven’t read my previous post about How to Do Keyword Research for an Ecommerce WebsiteI suggest you read it before proceeding with the next steps.
Keyword research is not only necessary to optimize your titles and descriptions, but it can also give you ideas on how to structure your website.
Step 2 – Create a simple menu that replicates the structure of the site
The navigation, that is, the menus of the store, must reflect the structure. If you get the structure right, your navigation will be easy to understand and follow.
A few things to keep in mind when deciding on your navigation structure and menus:
keep it simple – When designing the menu structure, always keep in mind to keep it as simple as possible.
Avoid adding pages to the menu that are not needed or creating dropdown menus when not needed.
As a general rule, each page of your website should be accessible from the home page with no more than 3 clicks.
Make use of the side menus – When a user selects a particular category from the main menu, you can show them a landing page with a side menu to help them find the products they want.
Take a look at how the woocommerce the website is structured.
When you choose a category from the main menu, you are shown a landing page with all the products in that category with various filters (such as price) to narrow down your selection.
The rest of the options are also available so that you can choose to change the category without having to return to the menu.
Step 3 – Consider creating a separate menu for desktop and mobile
Most of your traffic is most likely coming from mobile devices.
This means that you need to pay special attention to how mobile users navigate your website.
Replicating the desktop menu (as is) is not a good option due to the limited screen space available on the mobile device.
What you should do instead is create a separate menu for mobile devices and include ONLY those options that are really necessary for navigation.
Take a look at the woocommerce website again from your desktop and mobile.
On the desktop, they have a full list of products in the Extension Store menu:
Whereas on mobile they only show the Extensions store option as showing the full list of products would create a mess and this is not user friendly.
I am using the same technique on my website, if you check the menu on desktop and mobile you will notice that the mobile version is simplified.
Step 4: Optimize the structure of YOUR URL
have a SEO Friendly URL Structure it helps both users and search engines navigate a website.
Site structure and URL structure are closely related, as both must be accurately represented.
For example, if you have an eCommerce store that sells electronics and has a section for tablets, your site structure might look like this:
Home / Tablets / Android / Ipad
And its url structure like this:
www.example.com/tablets/android and www.example.com/tablets/ipad
When a word is removed from the URL, the www.examples/tablets page should display all available tablets.
Use the following guidelines to optimize the URL structure of your ecommerce website:
#1 – Keep your URLS as short as possible
#2 – Separate keywords in the URL with “-“ (hyphens) and not underscores
#3- Avoid having extra characters that aren’t necessary (for example, numbers that don’t make sense to the user)
#4 – Include your product attributes in the URL. For example, if you’re selling “black ipads with 64GB RAM”, then you could make your product url to be:
In general, include product attributes in the URL that can be used as search keywords.
#5 – Use only lowercase characters and avoid spaces
Make your URLs HTTPS
Having a secure website is very important, especially for eCommerce websites.
Not only is it an SEO ranking factor, but it is another way to gain user trust.
Read my previous guide, How to migrate your website to https for all the details.
Important: If you decide to change your URL structure, you need to be careful not to lose your SEO and rankings.
The best approach is to use 301 redirects to let users and search engines know that a page’s URL has changed.
Step 5 – Add a Breadcrumb Menu to All of Your Pages
A breadcrumb menu is displayed at the top of a page and consists of a series of internal links that allow visitors to quickly navigate to the previous section or home page of your website.
This is extremely useful when users search for a specific product and go back and forth between categories and products.
It’s also useful when users land on a specific product page, as they can use the breadcrumb to see what other products are in the same category.
Add structured data to your breadcrumbs
In addition to helping the user navigate while on the site, breadcrumbs also show up in Google search results on mobile and, if set up correctly, can offer an additional advantage for your website in the SERPS.
To make sure that Google can ‘interpret’ the breadcrumbs correctly, you need to add the relevant schema.
You can read more details on how to implement schema markup for breadcrumbs here Y here.
Step 6: Create a User Sitemap
For all types of websites, it is always a good practice to create a user sitemap page.
A user sitemap is different from xml sitemap which is submitted to search engines.
A good user sitemap page should display all the important categories and subcategories of a website on a single page so that users can easily find what they are looking for.
Here is a good example from HP’s online store.
The user sitemap can be added as an option in the footer.
From experience, when you create the user sitemap page, it will help you understand if your website is well structured or if you need to make any structural changes to improve it.
Ecommerce websites can quickly grow in size and if you don’t have a strong structure from the start, you can easily get lost.
A well-defined structure will help users find what they are looking for quickly (in less than 3 clicks), and search engine crawlers will be able to crawl, understand and index your website more efficiently.
When thinking about the structure of your store site, keep the following in mind:
- Create a hierarchical site structure
- Your menu should match your site’s hierarchy. Use the sidebar menus for easy navigation.
- Pay special attention to your mobile version and make sure that the user experience is optimized for mobile devices. If necessary, design a separate menu for desktop and mobile.
- Optimize your URLs
- Add a breadcrumb menu to all pages.
- Create a user sitemap and add it to your footer.
Finally, if you already have an eCommerce website with indexed pages and decide to change the structure and URLs, use 301 redirects so you don’t lose any of your rankings and domain/page authority.