Finding the best SEO website structure for your content can be quite challenging. Particularly if you follow a typical journalistic top-down approach. I have just completed a very comprehensive and valuable training produced by Yoast.com on the subject. Anyone dealing with online content generation should do it because it is fully worth its price. Below you find a video produced about it by Marieke van de Rakt, one of the key authors of such training.
The course gives you a completely different viewpoint on how a properly structured site should look like. This new perspective will help you a lot when developing a new site. It will also be paramount in reorganizing an existing big site.
One of the pivotal concepts of the course is the notion of the cornerstone article. This is an idea which is peculiar of Yoast.com and that I have never seen presented elsewhere. Yet it can make the whole difference in the world when you are trying to improve your rankings. It is perfectly laid out in a comprehensive article about site structure that Yoast.com offers for free. Reading this guide will already give you a quite solid foundation about this new subject. It will also give you an idea of what the training course will actually cover.
A Reverse View About Internal Links
It is common SEO knowledge that you should create internal links between content articles in your site. This will facilitate the indexing of deeper articles that would otherwise not be found the by search engines. Ideally all content pages should be accessible from the home page, either through a menu or a link from another page.
As you add more content, this can become a bit involved. You will have cross-links moving randomly through your site. In this way the content will become more and more diversified, covering different hopefully related subjects. Google and other search engine will find it more complex to figure out what you are about.
Also, your visitors might be unable to find the most important information rapidly. Proper structuring is therefore a key factor in both user usability as well as SEO indexing. Originally I was convinced that the best way to solve this was to create some “special summary pages”. These pages would be accessible from the home page and would contain links to individual articles covering specific subjects.
In this way the lower pages would be indexed and be accessible incoming users. The problem with this approach, as I discovered on Yoast.com, is that you confuse the search engine. These “summary pages” usually contain little content and have many links going out. Therefore they can appear as spammy and trigger some penalty. Also they link to a variety of articles. In this way the search engine, and the user, don’t understand what is the key topic being discussed.
The correct approach is opposite. The “summary page” becomes actually a content-rich page. It gathers all you need to know about a very specific subject (keyword). All related smaller articles link back to it, and not vice-versa. You might have few outgoing links from this cornerstone article. They would point to related main articles. Yet the majority of links would be incoming from smaller related articles. This would show to the search engine that this is a cornerstone element of your content.
The Benefits of Cornerstone Content
The cornerstone content will increase its ranking and become more prominent in the search results. Furthermore it will help the indexing of smaller articles. This is a counter-intuitive yet quite powerful approach. And I would have never thought about it unless I had done the new Yoast’s training.
I believe this a very solid advice for anyone dealing in content marketing and wishing to build an effective and friendly web site.