Having a clear structure of your site and being easily understandable through a site map allows both your users a simple way to find items as well as giving Google a better understanding of your whole site’s meaning.
When the site meaning is clear and matches with the meaning of the web copy, you have a recipe for satisfying your visitors as well as being meaningful to search engine spider bots. Being clear in meaning and target gives you more visitor credibility and higher search engine rankings.
Think of your structure as being like a corporate hierarchy. It is helpful to pictorially develop your structure around a branch like concept. Your structure could be depicted like this:
To ensure simple navigation throughout your site and an easy return to previous pages, a breadcrumb trail is the most common tool. Starting from the left the broadest and most general pages leading to the specific is the usual way we see breadcrumb lists.
Hierarchy of pages
Try and keep your hierarchy of pages logical and simple. Think of your organisational hierarchy, the CEO at the top (general management) coming down through a layer of middle managers who manage the different business units, down to you doing your specialised detailed role. Keep your structure logical from this perspective.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do start with broad subject areas, drill down to more specific pages by increments. This allows your users to go from general information to specific content logically.
Don’t try not to link every single page to every other page.
Don’t force all navigation downwards through drop down menus. It is frustrating for a user who just wants to browse a subject area to have to click on a drop down box every time they want to move to another item. For example, you may be interested in basins for your bathroom and only know you want a white one, if the manufacturer’s site lists each of their bathroom design ranges, eg Range A, Range B and Range C, and to find the basins, you click on a drop down box next to Range A and are presented with two different basins, and then have to go back to each range and do it all again, you will be frustrated and will just go elsewhere. It also makes comparisons of product almost impossible. These negatives increase when you realise that it is more difficult for search engines to follow through drop down menus.
Basically, keep it simple and logical in all forms for your navigation. You want your users and search engines to be able to find everything easily.