Saturday, 30 August 2014

10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

For business owners just getting started, a guide to build brand buzz and boost your bottom line.     

Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.

It's vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and -- perhaps most importantly -- your bottom line.

1. The Law of Listening

Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.

2. The Law of Focus

It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

3. The Law of Quality

Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

4. The Law of Patience

Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.

5. The Law of Compounding

If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

6. The Law of Influence

Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

7. The Law of Value

If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

8. The Law of Acknowledgment

You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.

9. The Law of Accessibility

Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.

10. The Law of Reciprocity

You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content published by others.  

Content Source - Social Media Marketing 

Friday, 29 August 2014

10 Important Technology Infographics

This time, I’ll be leading you through a more industry specific approach in infographics – technology.

1 – The History of Location Technology

Mashable serves up an interesting historical perspective on the origins of location based technologies. Smoke signals, anyone ? ;)

2 – State of the Internet has a wonderful visual of the state of the Internet. Wonderful colorful slices of age/gender/and country demographics.

3 – What People are Doing Online

It is interesting to not only break down online users by age demographic  – clustering by Internet usage is fascinating when you see how it plays out by age:

4 – The Cost of Technology

Interesting look at how today’s toys size up against gadgets of yesteryear:

5 – The Rise of Netbooks

GigaOM reports on the rise of netbooks from 2008-2010. This is an important advent in tech history, as it allows the user to have a semi-powerful machine built to access cloud computing:

6 – What is Cloud Computing?

If you were wondering what cloud computing was from the last infographic’s reference, Wikibon does a good job laying out the basics of Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS):

What is Cloud Computing?

7 – The History of the Rickroll

No advancement of technology list would be complete without it ;)

8 – Online Gaming Stats

One of the best things about the Internet these days is the explosive growth of depth and complexity of online gaming:

9 – Phishing for Your Money

Unfortunately, the Internet isn’t just fun and games. Lots of phishing attempts are out to get into to your bank account:

10 – What is HTML5?

With all the news about the Apple iPad not supporting flash in favor of HTML5, I thought it would be useful to end this infographic list with some demystifying of what HTML5 actually is:

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Recipe for Perfect Social Media Posts [Infographic]

When you post on social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest, you've got to do a lot more than just post a link with a quick sentence describing it if you want lots of people to click on your post and visit your website. You've actually got to optimize your posts for each network.

Knowing little tricks like where to put a CTA in your YouTube description, how to include a shortened link in the copy of your LinkedIn post, or why you should avoid including a human's face as a pin image on Pinterest could be the difference between success and failure on social media. And if you're already putting in the man-hours and budget into building your business on these platforms, you want to make sure you're skewing toward the success side of the spectrum and getting the biggest bang for your buck.

So keep on reading -- these optimization tricks are visualized in this infographic, designed by mycleveragencyCheck it out, take notes, and make every future social media post count!


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Photo Essay: Barcelona

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
As the first post in a series dedicated to the enchanting city of Barcelona, this photo essay aims to capture some of its many facets in an attempt to demonstrate why the capital of Catalonia should be explored at least once by any traveller.


Afternoon breeze in Badalona. The small town is part of Barcelona’s metropolitan area and easily accessible by train.


Overlooking Barcelona harbour from Park Montjuic.


Watching the sun rise over the sandy beaches of Badalona.

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Panoramic view over the city from the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.


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The unspoiled natural beauty of Park Montjuic.

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Gaudí’s unique mosaic work adorning Park Güell.

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Casa Batlló, an outstanding artistic achievement and one of Barcelona’s most beloved landmarks.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Twitter vs. Facebook as a news source: Ferguson shows the downsides of an algorithmic filter

While Twitter has been alive with breaking news about the events in Ferguson, Mo. after the shooting of an unarmed black man — video clips posted by participants, live-tweeting the arrest of journalists, and so on — many users say Facebook has been largely silent on the topic, with more info about ice-bucket challenges by various celebrities. Is this a sign of a fundamental difference between the two platforms? In a sense, yes. But it’s also a testament to the power of the algorithms that Facebook uses to filter what we see in our newsfeeds, and that has some potentially serious social implications.

Part of the reason why Twitter is more news-focused than Facebook has to do with the underlying mechanics of both sites, and the way user behavior has evolved as a result. Because of its brevity, and the ease with which updates can be shared, Twitter is a much more rapid-fire experience than Facebook, and that makes it well suited for quick blasts of information during a breaking-news event like Ferguson.

Flaws in the symmetrical follow model

Facebook has tried to emulate some of those aspects of Twitter, with the real-time activity feed that sits off to the right of the main newsfeed and shows you when someone has liked a post, or what they are listening to on Spotify, etc.. But even with that, it’s more difficult to follow a quickly-evolving news story easily. And while Twitter has added embedded images and other Facebook-style features over the past year or so, Facebook is still filled with a lot more content that makes it difficult to process a lot of information quickly.

Then there’s the nature of the community: although Facebook has tried to embrace Twitter-style following, which allows users to see updates from others even if they aren’t friends, in most cases people still use the platform the way it was originally designed — in other words, with a symmetrical follow model that requires two people to agree that they are friends before they can see each others’ updates. On Twitter, users decide to follow whomever they wish, and in most cases don’t have to ask for permission (unless someone has protected their account).

As tech-blogger Robert Scoble argued during a debate with Anthony De Rosa of Circa, there are ways to fine-tune your Facebook feed so that it becomes more of a news platform. Like Twitter, Facebook allows users to create topic-driven lists, but the site doesn’t spend much time promoting them, and they are difficult to manage (to be fair, Twitter doesn’t make its lists very prominent or easy to use either). Facebook has also tried to become more of a news source via the Newswire it launched along with Storyful earlier this year, and product manager Mike Hudack says the site is working on other ways of surfacing news better.

Better for friendships than news

In the end, Facebook’s model may be better suited for creating a network of actual friends and close relationships, and for keeping the conversation civil, but it isn’t nearly as conducive to following a breaking-news story like Ferguson, unless you have taken the time to construct lists of sources you follow for just such an occasion. And then there’s the other aspect of the Facebook environment that makes it more problematic as a news source: namely, the fact that Facebook’s newsfeed is filtered by the site’s powerful ranking algorithms.

As University of North Carolina sociologist Zeynep Tufekci pointed out in a recent piece on Medium, the Facebook algorithm makes it less likely we will see news like Ferguson, for a number of reasons. One is that the newsfeed is filtered based on our past activity — the things we have clicked “like” on, the things we have chosen to comment on or share, and so on. That keeps the newsfeed more relevant (or so Facebook would no doubt argue) but it makes it substantially less likely that a sudden or surprising event like Ferguson will make its way past the filters:
“I wonder: what if Ferguson had started to bubble, but there was no Twitter to catch on nationally? Would it ever make it through the algorithmic filtering on Facebook? Maybe, but with no transparency to the decisions, I cannot be sure. Would Ferguson be buried in algorithmic censorship?”

A technical issue but also a social one

As the term “algorithmic censorship” implies, Tufekci sees this kind of filtering as a societal issue as well as a technical one, since it helps determine which topics we see as important and which we ignore — and David Holmes at Pando Daily has pointed out that if Twitter implements a similar kind of algorithm-driven filtering, which it is rumored to be considering as a way of improving user engagement, Twitter may also lose some of its strength as a news source.

In a sense, Facebook has become like a digital version of a newspaper, an information gatekeeper that dispenses the news it believes users or readers need to know, rather than allowing those readers to decide for themselves. Instead of a team of little-known editors who decide which uprisings to pay attention to and which to ignore, Facebook uses an algorithm whose inner-workings are a mystery. Theoretically, the newsfeed ranking is determined according to the desires of its users, but there’s no real way to confirm that this is true.

In the end, we all have to choose the news sources that we trust and the ones that work for us in whatever way we decide is important. And if we choose Facebook, that means we will likely miss certain things as a result of the filtering algorithm — things we may not even realize we are missing — unless the network changes the way it handles breaking news events like Ferguson.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Google Responds To Mass Negative SEO Extortion Emails


There are widespread reports within the industry of negative SEO extortion emails being sent to website owners, webmasters, SEOs and others. The emails are claiming that an evil SEO will ruin the site’s ranking in Google and other search engines if they do not come up and wire $1,500 to the evil SEO. Both Dan Petrovic, Steve Webb and George Zlatin, amongst others, posted copies of the emails.
The email reads:
Subject: I Want To Buy. Please Guide Me.
Read this email very carefully.
This is an extortion email.
We will do NEGATIVE SEO to your website by giving it 20,000 XRumer forum profile backlinks (permanent & mostly dofollow) pointing directly to your website and hence your website will get penalised & knocked off the Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) forever, if you do not pay us $1,500.00 (payable by Western Union).
This is no false claim or a hoax, download the following Notepad file containing 20,000 XRumer forum profile backlinks pointing to (this is our website and go and see on this website, you will find our email address from which this email right now is being sent to you) :
Just reply to this email to let us know if you will pay just $1,500.00 or not for us to refrain or not from ruining your precious website & business permanently. Also if you ignore this email and do not reply to this email within the next 24-48 hours, then we will go ahead and build 20,000 XRumer forum profile backlinks pointing directly to your website.
We are awaiting your wise decision.
Google’s stance on negative SEO has changed throughout the years, previously stating there is “almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index,” to now saying “Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”

We forwarded these negative SEO extortion emails to Google and Google responded that they have “investigated” the claims. They added that it is “unclear how credible this threat really is.” Google told us their “algorithms are designed to prevent these kinds of activities from causing problems for webmasters.”

But if you are concerned about specific links, “you can also choose to use the disavow tool,” Google told us. In addition, Google is recommending you “report extortion to law enforcement,” although that doesn’t do much good if the email comes from countries law enforcement has no control over. But if it is received on Gmail, Google asks you to report it at at

Truth is, negative SEO extortion is not new. I reported about cases of this back in January but this specific email is going out to many, many webmasters and site owners.

If you are concerned, yes, use the disavow tool. But make sure to keep an eye on your most recent links in Google Webmaster Tools and then disavow any new links that come up that concern you. If you do that, these guys will have a hard time hurting your site.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

6 Ways to Use Social Media for Actionable Insight

Social media represents the largest source of consumer data in the history of the world.

Social media 'listening' is a no-brainer.

People like you and me willingly go online to share their passions, concerns and opinions about almost everything. And the companies that have embraced social listening are seeing a huge 'return' in the insights gleaned from this public source of consumer data.

The biggest challenge for teams, quite frankly, is selecting the right tool(s) when the options seem endless. (Has anyone else seen this chart? And that was two years ago!) Most of these solutions allow you to monitor, measure, publish and engage in some way across or multiple social media channels. Don't get me wrong, numbers and charts and graphs really do look great at first. But, once the initial "wow" factor wears off, those quantitative measurements serve more as 'health checks' for content and engagement programs than a metric to share with the C-Suite to demonstrate value to the bottom line. 

Hope is not lost. Our industry is getting there, but we must first move beyond social media monitoring.

What's next?

Every social media marketer should google "text analytics" and "data scientist." Since I'm not an expert at either, I can't connect words and phrases to measure their meaning (which is what text analytics is if I way over simplify it) or identify patterns in data and develop advanced algorithms (which is a fraction of what a data scientist can do). But I do know that I want those people on my team so I can gain a competitive advantage. 

Social Media Intelligence turns consumer data into action.

With the right research partner, this level of insight is possible. 
Here are six ways to use social media for actionable insights:
  1. Discover unknown unknowns. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know, which means you may not ask your consumers the right question to reveal an 'aha' moment. Enlist a trained researcher to scan the wealth of conversations taking place across social media channels to reveal insights that can jumpstart your next campaign. Don't limit your channels to just Facebook and Twitter either. Look at blogs, forums and public message boards. The short-form of Facebook and Twitter are great for finding "whats," where the latter provide context to know the "whys."
  2. Richer Audience Segmentation. Traditional demographics like age, gender and location are becoming a thing of marketing past. The ability to drill down into attitudes and specific preferences to personalize each marketing engagement is becoming status quo. Social media intelligence can help you better understand your audience and what makes them tick by using text analytics to 'decode' their social conversations to reveal unmet needs and secret desires.
  3. Product Development. The best products do one thing: fulfill an unmet need. This could be in the product itself or the way it’s marketed and communicated to its target audience. Use social media to survey the buying landscape, scope out the competition and ensure your product meets the need(s) your audience is telling you they need.
  4. Campaign Effectiveness. You know the saying, “quality over quantity?” Well, it has never been truer than in the current age of technology where everything is shared, retweeted, liked, reposted, hash tagged and, if you’re really lucky, even spoofed! Chasing arbitrary metrics can be exhausting and provides little value over time, which is why many companies are moving to social media intelligence for more intrinsic measures – like reputation lift – to inform strategy for their next campaign.
  5. Event/Conference Improvement. If attendees at your last event were carrying smartphones, you best believe they were taking “selfies” and tweeting about their experiences. You can track those slices of feedback and analyze them to discover a number of things, like which speaker(s) hit the mark or which issues caused pain points (e.g., long registration lines or low-quality Wi-Fi access). Knowing what went right and what fell short helps inform the event-planning process the next time around.
  6. PR Effectiveness. Protecting brand reputation is a PR team’s primary objective. What if you could get out in front of a potential crisis before it crippled your ability to respond, or you could monitor public perception during a challenging time for your company or brand. Use the wealth of information shared across social channels to drill deeper into what specific messages are working or what topics do more harm than good. This level of insight can help your team justify its strategy in a number of ways.
Before social media, it wasn't as easy to extract public opinion or glean consumer perception in almost real-time. Now, with advanced research and Social Media Intelligence, we can glean real insights to inform business strategy in so many ways.

What have you done to move your company past monitoring? I'd love to hear how you've been successful.

New Pinterest Messages: This Week in Social Media

Welcome to our weekly edition of what’s hot in social media news. To help you stay up to date with social media, here are some of the news items that caught our attention.

What’s New This Week?

New Pinterest Messages Encourage Conversations: “When someone shoots you a pin, you’ll be able to reply with a message or send a pin back!”

pinterest conversation

“You can also send pins and messages to multiple people.”

SlideShare Introduces New Upload Experience: This new Upload page ”will make sharing on SlideShare even easier for you.”

slideshare upload experience

A new upload experience.

Facebook for Windows Phone Gets a Big Update: This new facelift “brings an updated design and new features that were previously available in beta.”

facebook messenger windows update

“Along with the overhauled user experience and improved app performance, Facebook for Windows Phone now supports more languages and has the ability for you to upload videos taken with your Windows Phone device directly to the app.”

Vine Updates iOS App: The new updates “make it easier for you to keep up with your new activity, explore different parts of Vine and more.”

vine ios update

“You can now choose to share a Vine publicly or as a message right from the share screen.”

Slingshot Releases New Version: This includes many updates for the first time since its initial release.

slingshot update

You can now “shoot crisp, clear videos even faster than before.”

Foursquare Introduces the All-New Foursquare: It “learns what you like, and leads you to places you’ll love.”

A cool social media tool worth checking out:

Hashtagio: This tool allows you to ”leverage fan experiences to increase brand loyalty, engagement and sales.”


“Build custom social media storyboards from the best fan content and display them everywhere.”

Social Media Success Summit 2014 is a special online conference designed to help you master social media marketing (brought to you by Social Media Examiner).

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Content Marketing Rules: What to Ditch and What to Keep

Content Marketing Rules What to Ditch and What to Keep 1

When reaching out to your leads and the targeted audience is on the agenda, content marketing is an approach that works.

The digital landscape is rapidly changing and different ways to promote our products and services are adding new dimensions to the way marketing was done in the past. The old mainstream habits have made way for innovation. And when was the last time you referred to the number of press releases you launched for your product to evaluate the reach of your brand or measure the success of your promotional endeavors.

Content marketing is not about press releases!

But, with an increasing awareness among the brands regarding the typical and atypical content marketing ways, more and more business owners have resorted to multiple ways to use content for maximizing their reach. That could include running a blog, or boosting their social media presence, or for that matter, continuing on with their email marketing.

…and that’s how the “Rules” were born

With the frenzy over content marketing as a potent tool to maximize brand’s presence over the web, the digital marketeers of the web have curated some “unwritten content marketing rules” that are being increasingly referred  to by those who are novices.

So, what really are these rules? Do you need to follow them to their last thread? Or maybe you need to listen to your own requirements and make your own rules.

Well, it’s a bit of both.

Instead of building from the ground up, it would be easier for you to go with the tried and true ways, but at the same time, using approaches that are relevant to your brand is what will serve you in the long run.

Here are some rules to “ditch” and some to “keep”

1. A rule to ditch: The title of post *Has to be shorter*

Shorter and crisper titles not exactly a passe, but if you are under the impression that your visitors will always find the lengthy titles too unwieldy to read, you have not been keeping up with the trends. The best of websites and bloggers can be observed of making their post breaking all the rules of word limit. Their titles sometimes end up being as long as 80 characters (at times longer), and they are still doing as far as gaining traffic is concerned.

A common myth going around the web is that the Internet readers are too impatient to read a long-drawn out title and they instead pay attention to the ones that express the theme in 5-6 words. The truth however lies somewhere between “definitely” and “not quite”. If you are able to make your title interesting enough, you have got their attention.

Look at Buzzfeed for inspiration

Content Marketing Rules What to Ditch and What to Keep 2

Buzzfeed has indeed created a buzz riding on their unconventional long titles that grab a reader’s attention.

2. A rule to keep: Include search-friendly phrases or words in the title

Now, there is no dearth of words and phrases that have a dominating presence over the web. As visitors, we usually start our queries on Google with certain words that include:
  • How to
  • What are
  • Why is
  • Difference Between
  • Tips to/for
  • Free
  • New
  • Best
  • Good
Now that you are already open to using long titles, injecting these keywords or phrases shouldn’t be a matter of force-fitting them.

3. Rule to ditch: Email marketing is passe, go for social media marketing

There is absolutely no doubt over the efficacy of social media as a marketing tool, but you would be widely off the mark in your analysis if you believe you don’t need email marketing.

All you need to do is to observe how many fans on your Facebook  page see your posts on their Newsfeed. I have observed it to drop as abysmally as 0.3%. on my luckiest day, it sometimes reaches in excess of 5%, but that is rare.

Twitter is now a much better alternative for organic reach.

Posts on your blog that are are directly delivered to the inbox of your readers is effective and an essential part of content marketing.
In fact why don’t you start building your email list with Facebook using a tool like Heyo’s free contest builder.

4. Rule to keep: Write longer posts

Whilst there is an anti-rule as well to the word limit which suggests that you write shorter posts to stand a better chance of capturing the attention of readers, but most experts would advise you to write longer posts. The more information your post provides (unless you are just forcing-in words), more eyeballs it manages to grab. Let’s elucidate it further by the study Moz performed a while back:

Moz ran a test on their blog to evaluate the number of backlinks they customarily get based on the length of the posts:

Content Marketing Rules What to Ditch and What to Keep 3
As far the links to those posts were concerned, here is the graph for links against number of words:
Content Marketing Rules  What to Ditch and What to Keep 4

But it doesn’t end with Google and links, the social media users like to Share and Like longer posts much more than the shorter posts. Neil Patel observed that the posts written in more than 1500 words received these results:
  • 68.1% more tweets
  • 22.6% more Facebook likes
Content Marketing Rules  What to Ditch and What to Keep 5

It has been proven that content-rich posts get more ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’ across the social media and most importantly, Google likes them!

So, with more links and likes to the content which lasts for more than 1500 words, it can be safely deduced that you don’t have to hold back while writing a post.

5. An evergreen rule that’s beyond ditching and keeping: Make your blog conversational

Conversational writing is now an essential approach to content marketing. And what is one way to do that? By asking questions.

Refashioning that approach, you can use it for your blogs as well. Whilst you don’t have to change the approach you take while writing your blogs, you can tweak the conclusion part by adding a relevant question at the end of each post, asking readers to express their opinions in the comment box.

Increasing activity in the comment box leads to increased engagement on your website. But don’t make that question scientific or filled with jargons. Ask a question the likes of which can be answered by the general audience, and you will see a lot many hands raised.

Wrapping up

Content marketing isn’t an exercise where you need to overplot and overcook, but it sure is a practice where focusing on the relevant, and getting rid of the fluff is what matters to fuel more-than-desirable results come down the pike.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

How to Create a Site Structure That Will Enhance SEO

The better your site structure, the better your chance of higher ranking in the search engines. Every website has some “structure.” It might be a rigorous and streamlined structure, or it may be a disorganized jumble of pages. If you are intentional and careful with your site structure, you will create a site that achieves search excellence.

In this article, I share some of the best advice on creating a powerful site structure. The tips below will help you create a site that appeals to users, gets crawled and indexed by spiders, and delivers the best SERP listings and rankings possible.

Why Structure Matters

As I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years, I’ve been surprised at how often site structure is overlooked. On the one hand, it’s one of the most crucial aspects of a site’s SEO performance, but on the other hand, few webmasters and owners understand what it means to have a site structure that enhances SEO.

I’m going to share a few of the reasons why site structure is so crucial, and then get into the how-to of developing your own SEO-friendly site structure.

A good site structure means a great user experience.

When you take away the colors, the fonts, the kerning, the graphics, the images, and the white space, good site design is really about a great structure.

The human mind craves cognitive equilibrium — being able to put pieces logically together, finding things where they’re expected, and locating what they are seeking. Thus, a strong and logical site structure is cognitively satisfying to users.

As you know, the more appealing your site to users, the more appealing it is to search engines, too. Google’s algorithm uses information from searchers to rank your site. If your site has poor CTRs and low dwell time, it will not perform well in the SERPs. By contrast, when a user finds a site that they like — i.e. a site with great structure — they don’t bounce and they stay longer. An accurate site structure can reduce bounce rate and improve dwell time, both of which will lead to improved rankings.

A good site structure provides your site with sitelinks.

Sitelinks are a listing format in the SERPs that show your site’s main page along with several internal links indented below. You’ve seen them before.

quicksprout in serps

Sitelinks are a huge SEO advantage. They increase the navigability of your site, point users to the most relevant information, increase your brand’s reputation, improve user trust, help you dominate SERPs, increase clickthrough rate, and shorten the conversion funnel. Basically, sitelinks are awesome.

But how do you get sitelinks? You don’t simply go to Google Webmaster Tools and fill in a few fields on a form. You can’t issue a sitelink request. Instead, Google’s algorithm automatically awards websites with sitelinks. And they do so based on great site structure.

If you have a poor site structure, it’s very likely that your site will never receive site links. The absence of sitelinks could be costing your site more targeted traffic, higher CTR, and increased conversions.

A good structure means better crawling.

Web crawlers like Googlebot crawl a website’s structure. Their goal is to index the content in order to return it in search results. The better your site structure, the easier the crawlers can access and index the content.

Crawler’s don’t automatically discover everything on your website. Google even admits, “[there are] pages on your site we might not…discover,” or “URLs that may not be discoverable by Google’s normal crawling process.” (That’s one of the reasons why Sitemaps are necessary.) However, crawlers will have a far easier time accessing, crawling, indexing, and returning the pages of a site with strong structure.

A good site structure is at the very core of good SEO — optimizing for the crawlers.

To sum up, your site’s organization paves the way for SEO success. In fact, it could be argued, that without a good site structure, you will never have SEO success. Strong site structure gives your site an unbreakable SEO foundation that will provide you with vast amounts of organic search.

Six Steps to Creating Site Structure

Now, I’ll tell you how to create this kind of site structure.

1. Plan out a hierarchy before you develop your website.

If you’re starting a website from scratch, you’re in a great position to plan out site structure for the best SEO possible. Even before you start creating pages in a CMS, plan out your structure. You can do it on a whiteboard, a spreadsheet program (Excel, Google Drive Spreadsheets), most word processors, or something like Visio or OmniGraffle.

A “hierarchy” is nothing more than a way to organize your information — something that is simple and makes sense. Your hierarchy will also become your navigation and your URL structure, so everything important begins here.
Generally, a site hierarchy looks like this:
website breakdown
There are a few features of hierarchy that you should keep in mind.
  • Make your hierarchy logical. Don’t overthink or overcomplicate this process. You want simplicity, both for your own sake and for the ease of crawlers and users. Each main category should be unique and distinct. Each subcategory should somehow relate to the main category under which it is located.
  • Keep the number of main categories between two and seven. Unless you’re, you don’t want to have too many main categories. There should be only a few main things. If you have more than seven, you may want to rethink the organization, and pare it down a bit.
  • Try to balance the amount of subcategories within each category. Basically, try to keep it approximately even. If one main category has fourteen subcategories, while another main category has only three subcategories, this could become a little unbalanced.
A site hierarchy is the beginning point for a great site structure.

2. Create a URL structure that follows your navigation hierarchy.

The second main element in developing strong site structure is your URL structure. If you’ve logically thought through your hierarchy, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Your URL structure follows your hierarchy.
So, let’s say your hierarchy looks like this:
example site structure
The URL structure for the Chinatown location would look like this:

Your URL structure will be organized according to your site hierarchy. This means, obviously, that your URLs will have real words (not symbols) and appropriate keyword coverage.

3. Create your site navigation in HTML or CSS.

When you create your navigation, keep the coding simple. HTML and CSS are your safest approach. Coding in JavaScript, Flash, and Ajax will limit the crawler’s ability to cover your site’s well-thought out navigation and hierarchy.

4. Use a shallow depth navigation structure.

Your navigation structure will obviously follow your site hierarchy. Make sure that pages, especially important ones, aren’t buried too deep within the site. Shallow sites work better, both from a usability and crawler perspective, as noted in this Search Engine Journal article:

A shallow website (that is, one that requires three or fewer clicks to reach every page) is far more preferable than a deep website (which requires lengthy strings of clicks to see every page on your site).

5. Create a header that lists your main navigation pages.

Your top header should list out your main pages. That’s it. My website, uses a very simple top navigational header with three subcategories. This accomplishes everything I need.
neil patel site structure
Adding any other menu elements apart from your main categories can become distracting and unnecessary. If you’ve designed a parallax site, be sure to provide a persistent header menu that displays through each scrolling phase.

While dropdown menus using CSS effects or disappearing menus may provide a unique or intriguing user experience, they do not enhance SEO. I advise against them. I also advise against using an image-based navigational structure. Text links with appropriate anchors provide the strongest form of SEO.

If you have a footer with menu links, be sure to duplicate the main links of your top navigational menu in your footer navigation menu. Changing the order of links or adding additional category listing will complicate the user experience.

6. Develop a comprehensive internal linking structure.

Internal linking puts meat on the bones of a logical site hierarchy. Moz’s article on internal links lists three reasons why they are important:
  • They allow users to navigate a website.
  • They help establish information hierarchy for the given website.
  • They help spread link juice (ranking power) around websites.
Each of these is directly tied to creating a tight-knit and well-integrated site structure.

There’s no need to get complicated with internal linking. The basic idea is that every page on your website should have some link to and some link from another page on the website. Your navigation should accomplish internal linking to the main categories and subcategory pages, but you should also make sure that leaf-level pages have internal linking as well.

Internal linking tells the search engines what pages are important, and how to get there. The more internal linking you have across all pages, the better.