In the world of eCommerce, website performance is key. A well-structured, easy-to-use site will make a huge difference to your sales and customer retention.On the other hand, a slow site with a poor layout can lead to abandoned carts and the loss of potentially valuable sales leads.

At Siteologists, we understand the importance of a well-structured website for any business, but particularly those that want to sell online.
Whether you’re a business owner looking to sell online or a digital marketer supporting clients in the eCommerce market, we’re here to guide you through the process of building the best eCommerce site structure for SEO.

What Is A Site Structure?

A site structure, also known as website architecture, is the way your website’s content is arranged digitally.
So, when a user visits the homepage, the site structure is the way the site is laid out and how they navigate to the pages they want to get to.
Building a site structure for any website requires a range of technical SEO skills as well as extensive knowledge of the eCommerce market, which is why many business leaders decide to use our expert technical SEO services.

How Many Levels Should I Add To My eCommerce Site Structure?

When it comes to levels for an eCommerce site layout, less is more. Our advice is to have no more than 3 levels, or tiers, (excluding products):

  • Homepage
  • Category
  • Subcategory

Limiting your site to 3 levels means that you can create simple, easy to navigate pathways to where your products are displayed without confusing the user or making your sitemap too complicated.

Users can easily navigate to the place they want and won’t have to spend ages clicking through, meaning their online shopping experience will be more convenient, and you can guide them to the checkout faster.

Why Does URL Structure Matter In eCommerce?

There are lots of factors to consider when building an eCommerce site, some of which are more important than others.

One of the most crucial is your URL structure, or how the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for each page appears in the search bar.

URL structure is the way the URL reads to users and search engine bots. It’s important that you have a short, simple and relevant URL structure that will be easy for search engines and users to understand.

That’s part of the reason why we suggest having no more than 3 levels to your eCommerce website architecture; otherwise, your URL can become very long and complex.

With a short, to-the-point URL structure, you can clearly show search engines and users clicking on your link what it’s for and what product page or category it will show them.

Having the right URL structure also allows search engine algorithms the chance to see how each page connects to the rest of the website, making it easier for the technology to decide the relevance of a page for a search engine result.

How Do I Structure A Navigation For eCommerce?

The primary navigation is an important part of your eCommerce site structure, as it is the main pathway for users and algorithms to quickly identify and visit specific web pages.

When structuring a navigation for an eCommerce site, it’s vital that you promote the key pages of your site and make the menu as simple and straightforward as possible.

The menu will be the main way that your users navigate your site, so you need to make sure that it’s clear and simple to use.
It should also be easy to find the menu on your eCommerce site so that users don’t have to look for it and can quickly move to the pages they need.

That’s why many eCommerce sites use sticky menus that scroll with the user or large, bold navigations that are easy to identify.
When creating your navigation for your eCommerce site, make sure that you include all the primary pages/categories, the ones you want to end up on search engine results.

By having them easily accessible in your main site menu, you can ensure that algorithms and users can identify and reach them quickly. And the more easily identifiable and interacted with your pages are, the better they will perform in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Should I Create Separate Desktop And Mobile Menus?

A mobile phone screen is smaller than most desktops, which means that every aspect of your site will have to be adapted to fit. If you don’t adjust the menus and other features of your eCommerce site accordingly, then your site might be difficult to use on a smartphone.

Due to this, advanced website development skills are often required to ensure that a site is functional across both desktop and mobile, and you might need to create separate functions to ensure everyone can view your site on any device.
Having simple, easy-to-use menus on both desktop and mobile devices is an important part of the user experience, and it’s particularly useful for eCommerce sites.

With 72.9% of all retail eCommerce sales coming from mobile devices, it’s clear that sites need to optimise for mobile, but desktop devices also need to be a key focus.

When you’re developing a menu for your site, trying to create one single solution that works for both mobiles and desktop devices isn’t always feasible, particularly if you have a large menu with a lot of categories on it.

So, it would be best if you created separate menus for mobile and desktop devices to ensure that every site visitor can easily find the pages they need on your eCommerce platform.

Should I Have Products In An eCommerce Menu?

When you’re creating a primary navigation for your eCommerce site, less is more. The menu needs to be simple, so that users can quickly find what they’re looking for.

That’s why most websites don’t have individual products in their site menus unless they only have a very limited range.

For companies with an offering of more than a limited product range, putting them in the menu can be confusing and make the menu cluttered. A cluttered menu that’s difficult to read isn’t fit for purpose, so it’s worth keeping individual products out of your site’s menu.

Instead, put the product categories and subcategories in the menu so that users can easily navigate to the correct page and find a selection of items to choose from.

Do I Need A Breadcrumb Trail For eCommerce?

In SEO, breadcrumbs are navigational buttons at the top and bottom of each page, which guide users back to the homepage or to other popular pages on your site.

While a breadcrumb trail isn’t essential for an eCommerce site, it can be useful for helping users to easily find their way to the pages they want to visit.

Most eCommerce sites are complicated and involve a lot of product pages, so customers might get confused or lost.
This might frustrate them and make their user experience less straightforward, which can lead them to abandon their cart and go to another site.

Creating a breadcrumb trail can help them to quickly and easily find the pages they need, making them more likely to return and use your eCommerce store again.

How Important Are HTML Sitemaps In eCommerce?

An HTML sitemap is useful for both users and search engine algorithms, which is why most eCommerce sites have one.
For users, an HTML sitemap of your eCommerce site is a useful list of every page on your site, so they can instantly see where they need to go.

It’s the digital version of the map on the wall at a shopping centre that points you in the direction of your favourite stores, so you don’t have to wander around looking for them.

Instead of going to the store they want, users can click on the page they need in the HTML sitemap and automatically get taken there, skipping the process of going through menus and subcategories.

For search engines, HTML sitemaps make it easier to index your site and ensure that each page is on the correct SERP.
Search engines can use your eCommerce website’s HTML sitemap to crawl your site faster and understand it better.

How Important Are XML Sitemaps In eCommerce?

XML sitemaps are designed with search engines in mind, so they can easily identify where each page leads and understand its purpose.
This helps search engine algorithms to accurately figure out the purpose of each webpage on your site and give users the best possible search results.

As products can often change or become discontinued within an eCommerce store, it’s important to ensure that both your XML sitemap and HTML sitemaps are dynamic to ensure they don’t contain obsolete URLs.

Conclusion On eCommerce Site Structure

Ultimately, your eCommerce site’s structure will form the backbone of its SEO strategy, so building the right website architecture is the first step in ranking your site.

As this guide highlights, there are a lot of steps to building the right layout for your eCommerce website. It might seem like a lot of work, but it’ll be worth it when you can increase sales and organically reach your target market.

If you don’t feel you have the skills or time to do all this optimisation and technical SEO work yourself, then you can collaborate with our team of experts.

For more information about how Siteologists could help you to create and maintain your eCommerce site structure, get in touch today.
Our technical SEO agency professionals will be happy to give you a no-obligation quote and explain how our services could help your site reach the top of your target SERPs and, as a result, capture the attention of your target audience.


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