XML sitemaps are an important part of your site because they ensure search engines can crawl all the pages on your site that you want to appear in the search results. It’s up to you to decide what pages you want to include, and what pages are better left unincluded. Keep an eye out for thin content pages, for example, as these can harm your rankings.

Yoast SEO allows you a lot of control over what will and what won’t appear in your XML sitemap and the search results. With good reason: many sites have pages that add little value, and are better off not being crawled. But how do you determine if including a page in an XML sitemap is beneficial? Let’s go into that with this week’s question!

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Marek emailed us his question on this subject:

Is it beneficial for SEO to include WooCommerce product tags in an XML sitemap? They are currently added by default by Yoast SEO.

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Including WooCommerce product tags in your XML sitemap

“Whether or not it’s beneficial depends. If your product tags are a good entry point for Google to find more of your products on your site, then yes it’s beneficial. If your product tags are lousy pages that add no value, then no, it is not beneficial. So you should make a decision about that yourself. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

Read more: ‘What is an XML sitemap and why should you have one?’ »

 

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If your online shop or business offers many products that are similar to each other, you’re probably familiar with this conundrum: how do you add content that’s diverse enough? And what to do, since you can use a focus keyword only once? These are important things to keep in mind, so you don’t end up competing with your own pages.

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In the case of a real estate business, you’ll probably have many pages that are similar to each other. Not having these pages at all is not an option. After all, you want potential buyers to be able to see photos and specifics for each property. So, what’s the best strategy, to have these pages and your site structure work to your advantage?

Gamal Sabry emailed us this question:

I have a real estate website and sometimes we have the same type of villa 10 times on our site. What should I write in the title to avoid competing with my own pages?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

The best way to avoid competing with your own pages

“Well, those 10 villas probably each deserve their own page, because there’s something that distinguishes them. But the category page that links all these together is probably more important to you than these 10 individual pages.

So, I would spend more time on a category page that links all of these villas than on the individual pages and I would make sure that all of them link properly to that category page with the keywords that you’d want to tackle. Then you’re not competing with yourself as much; then those 10 pages are all helping your category page rank well. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

Read on: ‘Ask Yoast case study: Appealing content for a real estate site’ »

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Optimizing your product pages and product category pages can cause a bit of a dilemma. You want your products to shine, so they’re the first thing people notice, and in this regard, a picture usually says more than a 1000 words. On the other hand, you need to add sufficient textual content to help you rank. But adding a lot of text could direct attention away from your products, and you want to avoid that.

As I discussed in another Ask Yoast video, it often boils down to this question: do you want that product page to rank for a keyword? For most individual product pages, it’s often not necessary. But for a product category page, that’s probably the case. So you need to add a sufficient amount of text. But you still want products on that page to catch the eye. In this Ask Yoast, I’ll discuss some options for dealing with that!

Stefan Wohlert emailed us this question:

Should I start with a long introduction on my shop’s category page? If I write 400 – 500 words, the actual products will be pushed down a lot.

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

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Adding content on product category pages

“This is a question we get a lot. You want content on those pages to be able to rank. At the same time, your products are more important than your content. Now I would suggest having a couple of hundred words up top and then maybe allow people to continue to read by going to the bottom of the page and having a button there that takes them there.

You can play with this. You can also do different tabs. This was a big no-no in the past, but with the advent of mobile, Google has actually started indexing both tabs, even the non visible ones, because on mobile this actually makes sense. So you can play with this, see what works, see what makes your ranking change and then make it as good as possible. I would keep up the 400, 500 words per page, though. That’s a very good thing. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

(Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

Read more: ‘eCommerce SEO checklist’ »

 

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With the holiday season now mostly behind us, many owners of online shops are probably still recovering from this very busy time. Many businesses offer special, holiday-themed products and gifts during this season. But how to handle the product pages of holiday gift sets after the holidays are over?

Even if the gift set or product was a great success, and you want to offer it again next year, it’ll be a long while until the page is relevant again. So, what’s the best way to deal with these pages in the meantime? Let’s get into that in this Ask Yoast!

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Marek emailed his question on this subject:

‘I want to offer special gift sets for different holidays. What to do with them after the special is over? Should I archive or redirect them?’

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Holiday gift sets after the holidays

“Well, it really depends if you’re going to offer that special gift set again next year. And I’m guessing you’re going to if it worked out. In that case, I would probably keep the pages up. You might want to make them less visible to people just browsing your site. But having the page there, even when it’s not linked for a while, and then linking to it again, when you’re back in the season is better than deleting it and making a new one next year.
So, keep it up, and make sure that it has a slightly timeless content, so that if someone wants to order a Christmas box in March, they can… Why wouldn’t you allow that? So that’s how we would treat it. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

(Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

Read more: ‘Holiday season SEO’ »

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It’s important to have breadcrumbs on your website. They show users how a page fits into the structure of a site, and allow search engines to determine the site’s structure. But how do you go about implementing breadcrumbs when you have many products that fit into more than one category? In this Ask Yoast, I’ll discuss the best way to handle breadcrumbs for products in multiple categories.

Niall Diamond emailed us an interesting question:

“When you have a product within multiple categories each page will have a canonical URL that is the same, but what about the breadcrumb for the canonical URL page?”

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page!

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Handling breadcrumbs for products in multiple categories

“Well Niall, there is one primary category for that product and if you use our Yoast SEO breadcrumbs then it will always show that primary category in the breadcrumbs. If you use another system of using breadcrumbs……well, don’t. Because most systems can’t handle this in a proper way. So switch to using Yoast SEO breadcrumbs and this will be fixed for you. Good luck!”

Read on: ‘What are breadcrumbs and why are they important for SEO?’ »

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.
(note: please check our knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

 

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No matter what you’re selling: you want to use the best eCommerce system possible. So you know you’ll get optimal results and therefore have one less thing to worry about. But with all the different systems and plugins out there it can be hard to choose. In this edition of Ask Yoast, I’ll share which eCommerce plugin I generally recommend.

Topher Knoll emailed us the following question:

I’m curious what Yoast uses as its WordPress eCommerce plugin or what it recommends. I’m interested in something with plenty of SEO capability, and that has an easily customizable theme. I want to be able to encourage conversions with a good UX.
This is for ducttapedanyol.com which is an artist’s portfolio.

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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The most complete eCommerce plugin

“Well, let me answer that. We currently use Easy Digital Downloads and we are in the process of switching to WooCommerce. Both are fine systems.

We have outgrown Easy Digital Downloads a bit because we do so much more than digital downloads and we wanted a more complete eco-system. 

I think by now, I would probably recommend most people on WordPress to use WooCommerce and nothing else, because it has the most complete eco-system, the most plugins, etc.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.
(note: please check our knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

Read more: ‘eCommerce SEO checklist’ »

Why do so many eCommerce sites have a blog? Is that because online shop owners love to write posts? Or perhaps they have a lot of spare time on their hands? Probably not. Although blogging is lots of fun, it also is a great marketing and SEO strategy. And because of that, eCommerce site owners start a blog. Here, I’ll explain why blogging is such a great marketing and SEO strategy. On top of that, I’ll give some practical tips on how to set up blog on a eCommerce site. 

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Why blog on an eCommerce site?

Inform your audience about you and your products

Blogging is a great way to inform your audience about your product. In a blog post, you can show how to use a product and why people should buy it. You can also tell your audience about yourself and your company. And you’ll be able to tell the story of your products from your perspective. If you’re, for instance, selling baby clothes on your site, a blog about children and children’s fashion is a great idea.

Stay top of mind

If you blog on a regular basis and post your blog posts on social media, you’ll stay top of mind of your audience. You want your audience to remember you, even when they’re not going to buy anything just now. If a visitor encounters one of your posts on how to dress children on a hot day, for instance, this visitor may not immediately want to buy new clothes for his or her children. But, they got to know you and your eCommerce site through your post. That way, you increase the chance people think about you when they DO need new clothes for their children.

Blogging is a great SEO strategy

Maintaining a blog contributes to SEO as well. Every time you write a new blogpost, you’re adding fresh content, which Google likes. In addition to that, maintaining a blog will allow you to start writing content related to those keywords you would like to rank for.

Practical tips for your blog on an eCommerce site

What to blog about?

You can write about all kinds of things on your blog, but make sure to do proper keyword research first. You need to know what search terms you want to be found for. These keywords should be leading when you choose what to blog about. A keyword, however, is not a topic yet. You need an angle, a story around such a keyword.

A great way to come up with ideas for blog posts is by referring and writing about current events. Keep an eye on different news sites, and write posts in which you incorporate your views on the news in your niche. Another way to get ideas is to invite your audience to leave comments on your blog. It may take a while to get them, but you could receive some questions or feedback that are excellent starters for your next post.

Read more: ‘6 tips for coming up with blog ideas’ »

Blog in the menu

The menu or top navigation of your site helps visitors understand what your website is about and what you’re offering. It should reflect the structure of your website. If you add a blog to your eCommerce site, you should make sure it also appears in your menu. A blog should be in your main menu.

I would advise you to set it apart from the categories of your eCommerce site. Put it all the way left (next to home), or all the way right in your menu, for instance. You should be able to click through to your blog from your homepage. After all, you want visitors to find your blog easily. And linking to your blog from your homepage will indicate to Google that your blog is important, which can increase the ranking of your blog. Also, make sure your blog is on the same domain as your eCommerce site, this way both your eCommerce site and your blog will profit from each other’s rankings.

Use of tags

If you have a blog on your eCommerce site, you’d probably write a lot on topics related to your products. Maybe about events where you use them, or what to use them for, how to use them best, comparisons between different products etc. Therefore, it makes sense that your tags will partly overlap with the product categories and subcategories of your shop. This is OK. Because in the end, you’d like to rank with those posts to draw people to the products you sell. And, if you group products, whether that’s in categories or tags, it’s easier to make them rank.

Social media and newsletters

If you start a blog on your eCommerce site, make sure to share these posts on social media as well. In addition to that, you should definitely send out a newsletter promoting your latest blog posts to your audience. People need a reminder of the existence of you and your blog once in a while.

Conclusion

A blog is a great marketing and SEO tool for eCommerce sites. In your posts, you can tell readers about your brand and products, and perhaps also about yourself. No excuses here, just start blogging!

Keep reading: ‘How to start a blog’ »

Breadcrumbs are an important part of almost any good website. These little navigational aides don’t just help people visualize where they are on your site, but also help Google determine how your site is structured. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to add these helpful little pointers. Let’s see how breadcrumbs work.

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What are breadcrumbs?

When Hansel and Gretel went into the woods, Hansel dropped pieces of bread on the ground so they could find their way home if the two of them ever got lost. These breadcrumbs eventually became the model for the breadcrumbs we see on websites nowadays. A breadcrumb is a small text path, often located at the top of a page. On yoast.com, for instance, the path to our Yoast SEO plugin page is Home > WordPress Plugins > Yoast SEO for WordPress. This breadcrumb immediately shows you where you are. Every part of that path is clickable, all the way to the homepage.

Breadcrumbs also appear in Google. If you use Yoast SEO or add the correct form of structured data to your site, search engines can pick up this data and could show your breadcrumbs in the search results. These provide users an easy to understand overview of where the page sits on your site. Yoast SEO automatically adds the necessary structured data in JSON-LD format for you. Flip the switch and see the necessary lines show up in your source code.breadcrumb seo google example

Different kinds

Looking closely, we can distinguish different types of breadcrumbs. These are the three most common types of breadcrumbs you will find on sites:

Hierarchy based breadcrumbs

These will pop up most often. We use them on our site as well. Breadcrumbs like this will tell you where you are in a site structure and how many steps you can take to get back to the homepage. Something like Home > Blog > Category > Post name.

breadcrumbs hierarchy

Attribute based breadcrumbs

Attribute based breadcrumbs appear after a certain selection has been made, for instance, while searching for a product on an e-commerce site. Maybe, Home > Product category > Gender > Size > Color.

breadcrumbs attribute

History based breadcrumbs

History based breadcrumbs do what it says on the tin; they are ordered according to what you have been doing on the site. Think of these as a replacement for your internet history bar. These would appear like this: Home >  Previous page > Previous page > Previous page > Current page. It’s also possible to combine these like Macy’s does in the screenshot below.

breadcrumbs history

Advantages to using breadcrumbs

There are a couple of advantages to using breadcrumbs on your site. Let’s go over them quickly:

1. Google loves them

Your visitors like breadcrumbs, but Google likes them as well. Breadcrumbs give Google another way of figuring out how your website is structured. In addition to that, Google might use your breadcrumbs to show these in the search results. This way, your search result will at one become much more enticing to users. To increase the chance to get these breadcrumbs in Google, you need to add structured data or use Yoast SEO.

2. They enhance the user experience

People hate to get lost. When confronted with a new location, people often look around in search of recognizable objects or landmarks. The same goes for websites. You need to keep visitors happy and reduce as much friction as possible. Breadcrumbs can help your user experience since it is a well-known interface element that instantly shows people a way out. No need to click the back button!

3. They lower bounce rates

Hardly anyone comes in via the homepage anymore. It’s all organic search nowadays. That means every part of your site could be an entry point. You must come up with a way to guide these visitors to other parts of your site if the selected page does not meet their expectations. Breadcrumbs can lower bounce rates because you’re offering visitors an alternative means of browsing your site. Don’t you think it’s better to send a visitor to your homepage than back to Google?

How to add breadcrumbs

There are several ways of adding breadcrumbs to your site. Firstly, if you use a WordPress site, you can use one of the many breadcrumb plugins or just use Yoast SEO. If you use a different CMS the process might be different. It is also possible to add them by hand. If you want them to appear in Google as well, you need to use structured data in a way that Google understands. You can find more information on this in Google’s developer documentation on breadcrumbs.

Yoast SEO offers an easy way to add breadcrumbs to your WordPress site. It will add everything necessary to add them not just visible on your site, but get them ready for Google as well. To add breadcrumbs to your site, you need to add the following piece of code to your theme where you want them to appear:

<br />
<?php<br />
if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) {<br />
yoast_breadcrumb('</p>
<p id="breadcrumbs">','</p>
<p>');<br />
}<br />
?><br />

This code can often be placed inside the single.php or page.php files, just above the title of the page. Some themes want it at the end of the header.php file. Try not to add it to functions.php since this could create problems.

After adding the code, you can go to the advanced settings of Yoast SEO and switch on breadcrumb support. Here, you can also determine how the breadcrumb structure will look and what prefixes will be used. Find out more on our Knowledge Base page on implementing breadcrumbs with Yoast SEO.

search appearance breadcrumbs yoast seo

Conclusion

While using breadcrumbs, Hansel and Gretel still got lost in the woods. Don’t let that happen to your visitor. Breadcrumbs provide an easy to grasp way of navigating for users. Visitors instantly understand how the site structure works. For the same reason, Google loves them as well. Use Yoast SEO to add breadcrumbs to your site easily.

Read more: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »

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SEO isn’t just for big business. As a small company or a local business, there is actually a lot you can do yourself to get good results from search. This ultimate guide for local and small business SEO will help you get the most out of search by finding your niche, optimizing your pages and using social media.

Way back in 2014 we promised you in our post on local SEO that we’d write more about local and small businesses. As local SEO is basically about optimizing for local search engine results, it’s fair to say that local SEO and small business SEO are closely-related, which is why we’ll cover both in this article.

We’ll discuss a variety of related topics in this article:

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show your opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

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As long as Google’s local search result pages continue to grow and improve, we’ll never be done with this subject. But in the meantime, here’s our ultimate guide to local and small business SEO. Let’s start at the beginning of your SEO process.

Finding your niche

Determining your niche is vital for local or small businesses. When you know your niche, you can emphasize what makes your brand or products unique, therefore improving your chances to rank well for them. If you have a clear niche, you can compete locally with large national brands – despite their multi-million dollar advertising budgets.

Find out who your customers are and which words they use to describe your product or service because people will use the same terms to find your website. These terms can really help you optimize your local business SEO when you turn them into long-tail keywords and these keywords should be as specific as possible. Once you’ve done all of this, remember to regularly assess your niche as it evolves with the growth of your company.

Find your shop’s niche

Low budget branding

We have talked about this time and again: branding is very important for SEO. Branding means stuff like your logo and tagline. Do they represent your company without further explanation? What do your logo and tagline reveal about your values and your field of expertise? It’s all about recognition.

Read more: ‘Low budget branding tips for small businesses’ »

Here’s a tip for branding: share your expertise! You can do that in blog posts and on social media. We’ll talk more about this later on.

Start writing great content

Your small business SEO will get a significant boost from the right content. Too many small business owners just put their products and contact details on their website and leave it at that. But there is so much more to tell and share!

Focus on making an awesome first impression on your potential customer. Write about your business, your business goals, how great your products are and things like that. You could also discuss market developments or events that relate to your business. These are just a few tips for your local SEO content strategy.

When writing your content, be realistic about the chances of getting that content to rank in search. If you are in a highly competitive market, content works very well as a marketing tool and as input for social media, but it probably won’t get you that number one spot in Google, and that’s OK. Manage your expectations.

Picking the right keywords to optimize for is very important. Usually, it’s a good idea to pick mid-tail keywords, including the local area you are targeting. It really doesn’t matter if you add this content to your site as a page or blog post. Just make sure that you write about things that people want to talk about or things that make people talk about your business in a positive way.

Keep reading: ‘Improve your small business SEO today’ »

Share your content on social media

While you can actually sell your products on social media platforms, in most cases we recommend using social media for brand awareness or to lead potential customers to your website for a sale. Using social media as a small business is all about promoting your brand, your company, and your products to establish your image and to get the right traffic to your company website. When used in this way, social media can really help small business SEO.

I like to compare social media to a market where all the stall owners know each other and customers browse the products. At some point, someone will tell other visitors where to go to for a product: “The cheese over there is delicious”, “you should really check out the fruit over there”, that kind of thing. So make sure people start talking about you. And start talking about yourself online, to make others start talking to you on social platforms. Lastly, actively engage in social media conversations, to let people know you are listening.

Use Social Media to increase your sales

Local ranking factors that help your small business SEO

There are many things that influence your local rankings, but there is one very obvious one: your address details or NAP, which stands for Name, Address, Phone number. Be sure to add these in the correct formatting (in code), using schema.org details – our Local SEO plugin can help with that. Also, ask your web developer to look into AMP, as Joost says in this Ask Yoast article on AMP for small businesses. As well as this, it may help to add your city, and perhaps your state, in the title of your pages for easier recognition as well.

Also, if you want to start optimizing your website in order to rank better, but you are not sure where to start, you might want to have a look at our new, free SEO course for beginners!

Google My Business

Make sure you use the exact same NAP details on both your website and your Google My Business listing and include your website link to your listing too. This is the only way for Google to understand the relationship between them. Add these details – for example in your footer – and of course, on your contact page. Google My Business really is your friend if you want to rank in your specific geographical area, so get your details right!

Improve local SEO with Google My Business

Add ratings and reviews

Google My Business, like Facebook, allows others to leave a review of your company. If your company has a good rating, people will be more likely to click through to your website from either of these two platforms. Make sure you monitor and maintain these reviews.

If you get a negative review for any reason, react by responding and solving your customer’s problem. Then, once you have, ask them to change their review afterward. In other words, turn that dissatisfied customer into a brand ambassador!

It’s easy to make use of these reviews and ratings. If you need some tips, find out more in this article:

Read on: ‘Get local reviews and ratings’ »

Links from related small businesses

Social ‘proof’, like the ratings and reviews mentioned above, should be backed up with a few links from local directories, such as:

  1. Yelp
  2. SuperPages
  3. YP.com
  4. ReferLocal.com
  5. Bestoftheweb

You should get a listing on these sites, for the obvious reason that this means you also get a link to your website. If you can get some links from other related local websites in that directory, that will also help your site’s findability. Note that links from other local websites should be from sites that are in a related profession. It’s of no use to have your bakery website linked from an accountant’s website.

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If your small business is closely related to other businesses that are not located in the same area, you should definitely also ask those businesses for a link. Google spiders the web link by link, so if your business is linked to from a website in the same field of business, that link is extra valuable to you.

Near me searches

When talking about local rankings, we also have to mention near me searches. These are searches and search suggestions that include words like “near me”, “closest”, “open” and “nearby”. Optimizing for these searches is similar to optimizing for local, but applies for global brands as well (“buy Lego near me”). So you’ll have to think outside the box – there’s probably more to optimize for. Google really focuses on search terms like these, as you can read here:

Is that a Possum near me?

In conclusion

As we’ve seen, there are many things you can do as a small business to improve your site and rank better. You should start by focusing on your niche and emphasizing your uniqueness. Think about how you present your brand: logos and taglines are important to give your customers an idea of who you are as a business.

You can increase your visibility by creating great content on your site, optimized for the most appropriate keywords. Also, it always helps if you are active on social media. There are several factors related to local SEO that help small businesses. Make sure Google My Business has the right details, keep track of your ratings and reviews, and try to get links from related small businesses. Finally, try to optimize for ‘near me’ searches.

Read more: ‘5 questions: Talking local SEO with David Mihm’ »

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If you own a website, you have to think about the structure of your site, whether it’s a blog or a shop. Site structure is essential to help users find their way on your site and it helps your site to rank. So your site’s hierarchy needs to make sense to both users and search engines. When you’re creating one, you might wonder if your structure is too deep or too shallow. Let’s take a look at an example.

Milada Sejnohova, emailed Ask Yoast with the following question:

“How deep can I make the site structure of my blog? Can I make it for instance:

  • Elemis
    • products
      • anti-aging?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Depth of your site structure

In the video, I answer Milada’s question:

Well of course you can!

First of all, if you have a products section, then it’s not a blog, it’s a website.

And two, your structure (products and then anti-aging) is a perfectly reasonable way of setting up your site. As long as it’s useful to users and it makes sense, you’re okay. It has to make sense for someone who has never been on your site.

What you really should be thinking about is: if I come to your site and I’m on any page on your site and I know that something should be there, do I know how to get there easily? Because that’s determined in large by your site structure. So make it as easy to understand as possible! 

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘The ultimate guide to site structure’ »