The site structure of a growing blog
It is never easy to set up a new blog. It can take quite some time to get picked up by the search engines. Nevertheless, as your blog starts to grow, you’ll probably face new SEO problems. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll discuss some of the difficulties you might encounter as your blog really starts to grow. How do you come up with new content? Should your keyword strategy be adapted as your blog gets bigger? How do you manage different authors? And how will you keep the structure of your blog in shape? In this post, I’ll discuss some techniques to improve the structure of a growing blog.
Why is structure important for SEO?
Maintaining a solid structure of your website should be an important part of your SEO strategy (read our post about site structure and about cleaning up your site structure for more info). A decent site structure helps Google understand your site and makes sure you don’t compete with your own content when trying to rank in search engines. The structure of your blog will be fairly easy to maintain as long as your blog is small. As your blog gets bigger, you’ll need to do more in order to keep the structure of your blog optimal.
1. Evaluate your categories
As your blog is growing, it could well be that you’re blogging about one thing far more than other things. That’s just the way blogging goes. You should therefore critically evaluate your categories every few months, asking yourself whether or not one category is growing much faster than another category. If some parts of your blog are growing much faster than other parts, you could divide such a category in two separate categories.
Imagine yourself having an Italian food blog for example with the categories pasta, salads, meat dishes and desserts. You should critically evaluate these categories every now and then. It could well be that the category pasta becomes a really large category, because you love spaghetti so much. Perhaps you could make a separate spaghetti category, if you tend to write a lot of spaghetti posts. You would then have five categories: pasta, spaghetti, meat dishes and desserts.
2. Add sub categories and tags
If you have lots and lots of posts, it becomes harder to make sure you link to (all) similar content. There will be too many posts to choose from. As a result of that, a lot of blog posts will ‘get lost’ in a structure that is too flat. There will be few links to these posts, making it hard to be found by both your audience and Google!
By making subcategories, you create an extra layer and a more hierarchical structure. This will make your site easier to be understood by Google. Moreover, there will be fewer posts within each group. In a relatively small group of posts, it will be more likely that every post will receive a link from a new blogpost once in a while, making sure that post won’t get lost.
Tags could also make sure a post gets enough links. Don’t create too many tags, though. Each tag group should have at least three posts. Evaluate your tag structure on a regular basis and make sure you add new tags if you’re blogging about new topics.
3. Add pagination
People don’t want to click through an endless collection of posts. Suppose your blog has 1,000 articles and you’re listing 10 articles per page: that would give you a hundred archive pages. If you would link these pages just by adding an Older (Previous) posts link and a Newer (Next) posts link, that would mean you would have to click 99 times to get to the last page. There is no need to make it that hard.
By adding a numbered pagination, linking for instance the first, second, third, tenth, twentieth, thirtieth, up to the ninetieth and last page, you reduce the number of clicks. Jumping every 20 pages will already lower that number to 10, of course. Pagination will allow your users to click through your archive in a rather simple way.
4. Get rid of outdated content
If articles aren’t up to date anymore and are hardly read by anyone, you could decide to delete them all together. This will clean up your site nicely! Be careful though, because deleting pages could lead to a lot of 404’s. Read Joost’s post about properly deleting a post, before you clean up your old content!
Conclusion: stay on top!
If your blog is growing, you have to analyze the structure of your blog on a very regular basis. Make sure your categories, subcategories and tags are well organized. As your blog is growing, the structure will change and evolve. As long as you stay on top, that structure will remain SEO-friendly!