John Mueller Discusses The Pyramid Site Structure
In an episode of the SEO office-hours hangout, Google’s John Mueller was asked about site navigation and how making drastic changes can affect website SEO. The person asking the question recently found out that their search traffic dropped after a website SEO audit, and they are now thinking of changing their site navigation significantly.
The person first explained that their website has a mega menu with more than a thousand links. In 2018, their mega menu would only load if there’s an action from the user. So, if a user hovers above the navigation bar, AJAX would load the links.
After some time, they added static links to their website, but they noticed a huge drop in their search traffic. Now, their team is contemplating whether they should remove the static links from the navigation bar and only leave those that load upon user action.
Nevertheless, their team still maintains a clear crawl path to all static links found only on relevant pages, but not every page. They wanted to know if there would be a huge impact if they removed the 1,000 static links from their mega menu even though they are maintaining a crawl path to static links on relevant pages.
In response, Mueller began by saying that he is not fully knowledgeable about the whole situation regarding their site structure. Nevertheless, he said that updating site navigation from a flat structure to a deeper site structure that’s more relevant and more meaningful generally improves website SEO. By doing so, SEOs can limit the crawl depth so that Googlebot can crawl and index all the webpages in a short amount of time.
This is what professional SEOs call the pyramid site structure. Mueller explains the pros and cons of implementing this method to a website, saying that it helps Google understand various webpages and categories.
The concept of this structure is to make a website where the homepage is focused on the most top level, as well as a general keyword. The deeper a user explores a website, the more they find specific categories and webpages where more specific product categories are found.
For instance, a user may visit an ecommerce website that has “Fishing Tackle” as the homepage’s main focus. The next click down will then show the user several major sections of the website that offers lures, hooks, and outdoor clothing.
As the user goes to the bottom of the pyramid, which is the deepest level of a website, they will find long-tail keywords that specifically categorises a product depending on the brand, colour, size, and so on.
The method is called the pyramid site structure because the webpages are analogous to the bricks that a pyramid has. The higher the user goes, the fewer bricks they can find, and the top-most level represents the homepage. This means that the main general topic of a website should be at the top, while the subtopics that support it are found at the next level down. Then, the webpages that support those subtopics are found in the third level down, and so on.
Mueller said that the pyramid structure approach helps Google understand the context of individual webpages within the website. For instance, if a certain category is associated with other subcategories, then it helps establish that there is a clear connection between the two parts. This gives Google a better idea about which things are connected and how they all work together.
On the other hand, “flat” structure websites, like the ecommerce site of the person asking the question, give the search engine a hard time in knowing which webpages are connected. It gives the illusion that all the webpages are equally important when this isn’t really the case.
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