How to Structure Your Website for Search and Users
Shopify SEO Course ↗️ > Unit 3 > Lesson 2 > How to Structure Your Website for Search and Users
Crawlers are programs used by search engines to discover and index pages from a website and, ultimately, serve relevant pages to search engine users. By making your website structure easy-to-follow, you make it easy for crawlers that discover one page of your website to also index additional pages on your website. Or in this case, your Shopify store. Here’s how you can make sure that your most important pages – your Product Pages – are ready to be found by crawlers.
Organize Your Products Using Collections
Fortunately, Shopify allows you to create an easy-to-follow structure for your website. Most online retailers can organize their website structure in one of the following hierarchies.
Homepage > Category Pages > Product Pages
Homepage > Category Pages > Sub-Category Page > Product Pages
Using the keywords you discovered in during your keyword research process, you should be able to match the most popular keywords with specific parts of your website structure. Let’s look at the most popular keywords we discovered in the last module example.
Using this, you can quickly see the best keywords for the homepage, category pages, and sub-category pages. For example, products that match skinny jeans for men could end up under the following hierarchy if your Shopify store only sells men’s jeans.
Homepage (Men’s Jeans) > Category Page (Mens Skinny Jeans – Skinny Jeans for Men)
Alternatively, if your Shopify store sells jeans for more than just men, your hierarchy keywords could align like this.
Homepage (Jeans – Men’s Jeans, Women’s Jeans, Juniors Jeans and Children’s Jeans) > Category Page (Jeans for Men – Mens Jeans) > Sub-Category Page (Mens Skinny Jeans – Skinny Jeans for Men)
Thinking about your website structure in this way will allow you to optimize your Shopify store for both search engine crawlers and your users. Shopify makes it easy to categorize your products in easy-to-follow hierarchies by allowing you to organize your products into Collections. One product can fall into multiple Collections. Using your keyword research spreadsheet, you can go to your Shopify admin dashboard and create new collections under the Product > Collections menu.
When you create a new Collection, you will start with the title and description for the Collection that you want to show on the Collection page.
Next, you will decide whether to add products to the collection manually or automatically based on conditions such as a particular keyword in the product details. If you have a lot of products to add to your Shopify store, you may want to choose the automatic option.
Finally, you will customize the SEO settings for your collection. This is where you can add the title and description you want search engines to crawl and display to search engine users.
In addition to adding the title and description that search engines will use in search results, you can also edit the URL and handle for your Collection to secure a keyword-optimize URL for your page. The preview above these fields will show you what your Collection page should look like in search results to a search engine user.
Once you’ve created the collections you need to organize your products, you can add products to those collections manually in the Add Product screen or let your automatic conditions add the product to the right collections.
Create a Search and User-Friendly Navigation System
The rule of thumb for easy discovery of your website’s pages by search engine crawlers is to make sure most, if not all, of the pages you want to be indexed in search to be no more than three clicks from the homepage. Or at least, that is what you will read when researching search optimization and usability. It doesn’t mean that every page has to be within three clicks, but the fewer number of clicks users have to go through to get to what they want, the better your chances of ultimately converting a user into a customer.
To create a search and user-friendly navigation system, you will need one or more navigation menus and internal links. Most users will expect to find one main navigation menu at the top of your website or in the sidebar, depending on your Shopify store’s theme and how your products are organized.
In some cases, you may want to follow the lead of stores similar to yours. The reason? If users are used to shopping from other sites for similar products, they will be able to effectively navigate your store if it uses a similar menu structure. For example, you may be able to create a menu similar to the Levi’s main menu in terms of organization.
While you may not have as many categories, you could easily create a simplistic drop-down menu that looks like this.
To do this, you will create a Main Menu with menu options for Home (linking to the homepage), Jeans for Men (linking to your collection for men’s jeans), Jeans for Women (linking to your collection for women’s jeans), About Us (linking to your about us page), and Contact Us (linking to your contact us page).
To create the dropdown menu, you will create a menu named Jeans for Men with menu options for Skinny Jeans (linking to your collection for men’s skinny jeans), Straight Jeans (linking to your collection for men’s straight jeans), and so forth. You will also create a menu named Jeans for Women with similar menu options, except for your related women’s jean collections.
To learn more about creating standard and, specifically, drop down menus, visit Shopify’s video tutorial.
In addition to your main navigation menu(s), you will want internal links throughout your website to link people to specific pages on your website. These are simply links within the content of each of your pages that links to relevant pages. For example, if you were to mention skinny jeans for men in a blog post, you would add a link to your skinny jeans for men collection.
The purpose of this is two fold. Search engine crawlers that discover your blog post will also discover the link to your skinny jeans for men collection. Users who read your blog post will be able to click on the link from your blog post to your collection page where they can see your products. We’ll show you how to create great content later in this course.
In the meantime, as you are creating new pages on your website, be sure to find ways to link them to other pages on your website. Other pages you can include internal links include your About Us page when talking about your main products, Collection pages that have sub-categories, and similar.
Ultimately, having a clear navigation system can help you visitors find your most important pages and top products. They can also help search engines develop site links based on the pages they think are most important.
The sitelinks Google shows for Levis include a direct link to their men’s clothing section, women’s clothing section, men’s jeans, women’s jeans, men’s sale, and all the products in the men’s clothing section. These will help people in search engines find your top pages more quickly.
Create Informational Pages for Your Business
As an online retailer, you need to give your visitors confidence that your business is trustworthy. Search engines look for this kind of information as well. Google, for example, has an extensive list of search quality evaluation guidelines. This is a list of guidelines their employees (Search Quality evaluators) use to determine whether a website is a good fit for users searching for particular keywords. Online retailers are one of several categories that Search Quality evaluators review to ensure their safety for Google search users.
One of the things that Search Quality evaluators will look for is information about the person(s) behind a website. Pages they will look for include your About Us and Contact Us page. What will they be looking for on these pages? The same thing your visitors will be looking for when deciding to make a purchase from your store for the first time: information about you and your business as well as a way to contact you if they have questions before or after their purchase.
This information is also important to Google as Google wants to only share websites that are trustworthy to their search engine users. Hence, Search Quality evaluators will be looking for information that they can use to deem your online store reputable for search engine users looking for your products.
The key to your About Us page is transparency – let your visitors (and Search Quality evaluators) know who you are and what makes your store the best choice for purchasing your products. And the key to your Contact Us page is options – let your visitors (and Search Quality evaluators) know that you are easy to contact if any issues arise.
Make Sure You Have Search Box to Your Store
Having a search box for your Shopify store isn’t going to help increase its rank in search engines. But it could increase the chances that you will be able to ultimately convert a visitor to your website into a customer by allowing them another way beside your menu to find the product they are looking for.
Fortunately, it’s not something you have to worry about adding manually – Shopify offers themes with search boxes built into their header or sidebar as well as pages with a simple search box, front and center.