Well good morning everybody and welcome to Lesson 7 of our class on how to create a responsive professional services website using WordPress and Thesis 2.
Lesson 7 Resources
Before we dive into the lesson, I would like to draw your attention to this box over here on the right hand side called Lesson 7 Resources. Each lesson will have a box like this at the top of the page for resources for that lesson.
And in particular, you’ll always find a link to the demonstration site that we’re creating for each specific lesson. If there are slides, you’ll be able to download a copy of the slides and you’ll be able to download a copy of the lecture notes.
HTML Graphical Cheat Sheet for our Agility Nude Skin
Today, there are a couple of special resources as well. First, I’ve created an HTML cheat sheet for Agility Nude that gives a graphical description of the HTML layout for Agility Nude. You may find that to be useful.
Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
And then we’ll be talking today about the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide and you can download that directly from this link.
In addition, there are a couple of recommended videos for you to watch. If you have not yet watched the seminar, The Beginner’s Guide to the Thesis Skin Editor, then I would encourage you to go watch that. And if you have not watched the seminar on Thesis 2 Skin Management then I’d encourage you to watch that as well. So these are a couple of other resources that I think, at this stage in your instruction, are probably useful for you to go and watch.
Each week, there will be a new set of resources. At a minimum, there’ll be links to the lecture notes but there will be generally other things there as well. So I encourage you to take full advantage of this.
Link Between Site Organization and SEO
What we’re going to be talking about today is how to organize your website. And the reason why we talk about how to organize your website here is because good search engine optimization begins with good site organization. Search engine optimization is all about helping Google and other search engines understand what your content is about.
There are all kinds of SEO content out there suggesting how you can, in one way or another, fool search engines and scam search engines into thinking that your site’s good or valuable or useful. I mean, there’s all kinds of junk out there that people have been penalized in the last couple of years with changes that Google has made.
Content Driven Visitors
But for a legitimate website owner what you really want is people who come to your site who are actually looking for your content. The only people you want visiting your site really are those who are interested in the material that you have on your site. And while you can’t control the visits, you can help Google understand what your site is about and site organization is the very first part of that.
Google Search Optimization Starter Guide
We’re going to open up the Google Search Optimization Starter Guide and you can find that by Googling search engine optimization starter guide. Or you can use that link in the left in resources. I’m just going to go ahead and use the link here. This is a very good primer for how to prepare your website to be indexed by Google or how to make your website Google friendly.
Improving Your Site Structure
We’re going to refer back to this several times throughout the course. But this second section, improving site structure, is the section that I want to draw your attention to here for the purposes of this lesson. Because really, if you start off with good site organization then it’s easy to do all the rest of the stuff. But if you start off with lousy site organization then it can be difficult, really, for you to solve that problem.
Structure of Your URLs – Describe the Content
The first part of improving your site structure is to improve the structure of your URLs. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit more but that’s really what this comes down to is having a URL that is understandable so that when somebody sees it, they know what the content is about and that Google can use that to understand what the content is about.
The reason why you want to improve the structure of your URLs is because a good URL conveys content information. It’s not just an address for a location. You’ve undoubtedly seen plenty of URLs that have long numbers in them or sort of gibberish addresses that don’t really mean anything. WordPress used to do that automatically as well.
In fact, WordPress URLs are automatically that way at the moment. They just display the post id. But what you want is a URL that actually tells a story, tells what the content is about. And good URLs will do that.
One of the primary reasons why this is important is because URLs are displayed in search results. So if you do a search, for example, if we come over here and search for Thesis 2 tutorials, you can see that here is my URL, byobwebsite.com/tutorials/thesis/thesis2launchparty. That URL suggests something about the content. It reinforces the Thesis 2 Launch Party video tutorials, what’s new in Thesis.
And you can see that as you work your way down through these things as well that the URL helps you understand what the content is about. And that’s what we’re trying for.
A well-organized site also makes your site easier to navigate because people can sort of anticipate where things are. And that really brings us to the question as to why you should bother? Why should your site be well-organized?
Customers Easily Find Content
The primary reason why you’re making your site well-organized for your end user is it that it makes it easier for your customers to find what they’re looking for and your prospective customers to find what they’re looking for.
Now we’re working on a pretty simple site so it’s not going to be very complicated. But it becomes more important on a site that is large and very complex to have a good, simple site structure that makes it easier for people to find content. And you can kind of see this in my site which is a much more complicated site than the one we’re building here.
If we come over here to just look at this class, it’s this class here. Let’s look at the URL. We’ve got BYOB Website and then under courses, we have How to Build a Website. And then we have Thesis 2. So you can expect then that if you go to Lesson 6, that way when you’re looking at the URL, it’s on BYOB Website, it’s under Courses, How To Build a Website, Thesis 2 and then there’s Lesson 6: Install Thesis 2 and Choose a Starting Skin. This is the URL and it’s very clear for somebody looking at this URL what this means.
Improves Search Results
Okay so that’s the first part of this. It makes it easier for your customers to find what they’re looking for. It makes your site easier to navigate. It makes your listings and search results easier to read and it also helps Google understand your site better. So that’s why you want your site to be well organized.
Simple Page Hierarchy
So how should a site be organized? Well, the site should be organized in a relatively simple hierarchy which means that you have a main page and then that main page has a subpage. And then the subpage under that maybe has sub-subpages.
Now there’s some moron out there who’s saying that the best thing for you to do and for search engines is to reduce the levels of sub-navigation and so you should have all of your pages as main pages. Well, in the first place, it flies in the face of what Google says, that is, they want a nice structure, a nice hierarchy.
But it also suggests that there is magic in SEO and that you can do some tricky little thing here or some tricky little thing there and all of a sudden, your site’s going to be better. There’s no magic in SEO. If you focus on the information that’s contained in the starter guide, that is something that ordinary individuals can do on their own without anybody’s extra help, that’s going to help get you 95% of the way there because it’s all focused on what your content is about.
So when you develop a simple hierarchy, you get to do what I just showed you, right? Where your main page, say for example, my main page is courses. And then each course is its own subpage under that and each lesson is a subpage under that. And that’s a nice, simple, rational hierarchy. So that’s the first thing.
Number of Navigation Choices
The second thing is you probably need to keep your main pages down to a minimum. That is, 3 to 8. The thing is if you give somebody more than 8 choices, chances are that they’re not going to make any choice because they don’t know what choice to make.
You want to consider a way to structure your information so that you’re not presenting more than 3 to 8 navigation choices to your user at any specific time. Now sometimes, you just can’t avoid that but this ought to be your goal.
And I would say that 60-70% of the websites that my members create can easily be done with this sort of a configuration of 3 to 8 main pages and then those main pages have subpages and potentially, subpages under that.