Anyone running an ecommerce business will know just how competitive it can be, which is why having a top notch, well-optimised site structure is an absolute must.

In this guide, I’ll take you through some of my top tips for structuring an ecommerce site for SEO, providing insights into how you can ensure your online store is the best it can be!

What are the benefits of a well-optimised ecommerce site structure?

Having a well-structured ecommerce site is not only great for user experience, but also incredibly advantageous for business performance and ranking potential too. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Easy navigation - allowing users to find products quickly and easily.
  • Better engagement - when users are able to find what they need, they are more likely to browse for longer, reducing bounce rate.
  • Crawlability - search engines can crawl and index your ecommerce site more quickly, ensuring all pages are easily found.
  • Improved visibility - well-organised categories and product pages optimised with relevant keywords can improve your site’s chances of ranking for relevant searches.
  • Builds trust in your brand – a professional, well-structured site helps to build trust with customers, leading to improved conversion.
  • Better maintenance - a simple site structure makes it easier to update and continuously improve content.
  • Responsive design – ensuring your site is both mobile and desktop friendly will enhance user experience.

How to structure an ecommerce Site for SEO

If you think structuring an online store is just a case of setting up products and payment methods, think again. In order for your brand to be easily found by customers, you will need to implement an effective SEO strategy throughout. Let’s take a closer look at the steps involved:

1. Implement a lean and logical website taxonomy

Website taxonomy refers to your site’s navigational structure, which is used to organise the products you sell into categories and subcategories. None of your product pages or sub-categories should be more than three or four clicks away from the homepage as the closer they are, the easier it becomes for search engines bots and users to find it.

Ecommerce site structure hierarchy image

2. Have a simple URL including primary keywords

URLs should be clear, descriptive and include your primary keywords. This enables both search engines and users understand what the page is about. A good example courtesy of Pets At Home is included below:

Pets at home URL image

3. Create a simple menu

The menu of your online store should reflect the site structure, keeping it as straightforward to follow as possible. Adding a multitude of unnecessary pages to the menu will most likely frustrate or overwhelm the user. Many larger ecommerce sites include a side menu which helps them navigate to the product they want more quickly.

4. Optimise your category and product pages

Optimising your webpages for the most relevant keywords is essential for boosting visibility and ensuring the right page is put in front of your audience at the right point in the buyer journey. Tools such as Semrush or Google Keyword Planner can help you with your keyword research and enable you to see what your competitors are ranking for.

As a rule of thumb:

  • Category pages should target broad keywords or plural forms of the primary keyword, e.g. children’s shoes, women’s cardigans, winter coats, etc.
  • Product pages should target very specific keywords. Each product page should be unique and detailed.

Heads up! Avoid targeting the same keywords across multiple pages as this can lead to cannibalisation.

5. Use header tags

Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) add structure to your site and make content easier to read. They also help search engines understand your site hierarchy more effectively.

  • H1 Tags should be used for the main heading of your page and include your primary keyword.
  • H2, H3 (and so on) tags should be used for subheadings.

6. Be mobile-friendly

Google prioritises the mobile version of a website's content for ranking and indexing so it’s essential your ecommerce site navigation is mobile friendly. It is also vital that the same content on the desktop is replicated on mobile as users often browse on mobile but buy on desktop, so they need to be able to easily find the products they want on both devices.

7. Use breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs help users navigate from the product page back to the main category, thus improving web accessibility and user experience. Typically, breadcrumbs are location based and are great for SEO as they make it easier for search bots to understand your site. A prime example from ASOS is included below:

Breadcrumbs example image

8. Create a sitemap

An XML sitemap lists all the pages on your site and allows search engines to quickly find and index new URLs on your site. Don’t forget to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console to ensure all your pages are indexed. Here’s an example from Marks and Spencer's website:

M and S Sitemap image

9. Avoid orphan pages

An orphan page is one that is not linked to from anywhere on your ecommerce site. Important pages should always be internally linked across the site to avoid the risk of being ‘orphaned’. That said, there may be some instances where orphan pages are ok. For example, when a discontinued product still has search volume, keeping the page orphaned will prevent customers from navigating to it on your site but will still enable people to find the page organically.

Orphan pages image

10. Use internal links and fix broken links

Internal linking not only helps guide customers through the sales funnel but also enhances the site’s SEO value by distributing link equity across multiple pages. Use descriptive, keyword rich anchor text and link from category pages to relevant products and vice versa.

Need help with your ecommerce site structure?

If you need a helping hand with your site structure, you’ve come to the right place! Our team of ecommerce SEO experts keep a constant finger on the pulse, scouring the latest search trends, and ensuring our clients’ ecommerce sites are consistently match-fit. Drop us a line today to find out how we can help improve your site structure.

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Meet the author ...

Anna Heathcote

Content Manager

Based way up on the Northumbrian coast, Anna uses her creative copywriting expertise and SEO experience to ensure clients have fresh, relevant and optimised content on their ...