Designing Your Site Layout

site-design

How you structure your site and how you use internal linking is incredibly important. You don’t have to be an expert designer. You don’t have to know code. You don’t even have to make your site outstanding. You just need to make sure it works.

Choosing A Theme

WordPress has too many themes to choose from, it makes life more difficult at times. The modern trend is to choose a very simple theme, something like Twenty12, and keep your site simple.

While I agree that a white, simple theme works, you don’t want it to look TOO simple. Nice bold navigation bars and lines work well. Twenty12 is an example of going too simple. A better theme might be Editor, Flat or Vantage.

Honestly though, if you’ve got a budget, choose to buy a premium theme. When I build sites or improve sites for customers, the first thing I’ll do is stick a nice Premium theme (usually from WPZoom) on the site and the impact is huge. Immediately they’ll be emailing me telling me how much better their site looks.

They’re not wrong either. Premium themes just look better.

When choosing a theme (free or premium), here are some things to consider:

  • Don’t over simplify or over complicate things. Make the site easy to access and navigate.
  • Colored backgrounds are a bit old fashioned (but work sometimes).
  • Clearly marked sections are important (Sidebar, nav bar, footer etc).
  • You can always change theme later (Don’t fret over it!).

The most popular places to buy premium themes are:

Even if you do choose to start out on a free theme, upgrading later should be one of the first things you do.

Remember, unlike choosing a niche, choosing a theme doesn’t have to be permanent. You might just get a better idea about your ideal theme later on when your site has grown.

Your Site Structure

This is something people tend to struggle with. It really is quite simple though.

Posts vs Pages.

For standalone content use pages. This is things like “About,” “Contact,” and “Privacy” and also “Homepage”. You don’t need them to be categorized or put into a blogroll or anything. For everything else, use Posts. Posts can be sorted into categories and will appear as part of your main blogroll.

I used to have the blogroll as the homepage, but unless I’m planning on posting regularly, I’ll use a static homepage now so I can target the main keyword more easily.

The first thing you should set up is your homepage, blogpage (Call it “Blog” or “News” or “Articles” or anything appropriate), and the other basic pages mentioned above.

Go into Settings -> Reading and make your Homepage your frontpage, and blogpage the one you just created. Your Home page will actually be titled to match your main keyword.

static

The Posts

This will do for a basic “page” structure for now. Next you’ll be doing the other 8 keyword articles you wrote/had written for you earlier. These will all be posts.

Create them as posts, publish them immediately, and then you’ve got all your basic pages and posts set up correctly. Don’t forget to put them into categories as relevant. In the next chapter we’ll cover on-page SEO, so don’t worry for now.

Add images to your posts where necessary. This comes down to personal taste, but I usually have a full-width image at the top of the page (630×420 pixels works for most themes). Images will also be covered in more detail in the next chapter.

The Main Menu

When you set up your navigation menu, here’s what’s best to include:

  • Home
  • About
  • Contact
  • Category 1
  • Category 2
  • Category 3 (if applicable)
  • Subscribe (Later)

menu-structure

 

I then add “Privacy” and any other disclaimers to a footer menu. I don’t like to see them in the main menu. If your theme doesn’t support two menus, just create a second menu anyway, and drag it into the footer area using the “custom menu” widget in Widgets section.

Sometimes you will want to add one or two other pages to the menu, or you might have lots of categories. The example above is the basic rule and should work fine for your first few pages.

The SideBar

I like to keep the sidebar clean. I’ll usually include “Latest Posts” (There’s a standard WordPress widget, and some themes also have their own ones), “Archives” and “Categories”.

Later on when the site has a bunch of traffic and lot’s of things going on, I’ll probably add an email Opt-in form for building a list, and maybe one or two banners for promotions. It depends on the niche and the things going on.

Initially I’ll keep it clean.

Sidenote: You can also add things like “FB Like Box” or other “Follow Us” social buttons, depending if you’ve set up those pages yet.

If I’m setting up a site for Adsense, I’ll also stick one or two Ad blocks in the sidebar.

Centralizing Offers

Initially you will probably only have 1 or 2 “money pages” where you have affiliate links and offers.

It’s great for both SEO and User Experience to have your main offer(s) centralized. Not only is it easier to sell on one page, it’s also easier to link to.

Imagine if your main product is selling a website like I do. Every time I mention my service, I don’t want to have to keep talking more about it.

It’s much easier for both me, my audience, and Google, if I just talk about my sites on one page, and link to it where relevant, like this.

This also means that you’re not going to have affiliate links all over the site, and you’re not going to put-off audience members who aren’t interested in your product or aren’t ready to hear it yet.

Here’s a diagram to help:

You don't want to "sell" on every page. Just create one promotional page and link to it when necessary.
You don’t want to “sell” on every page. Just create one promotional page and link to it when necessary.

 

Sidenote: Further down the road when you want to test to boost conversions, it’s also a lot easier to just have one or two pages to test!

And yes, sometimes it IS fine to just link directly to a product or offer instead of to a money page , but for the most part you want your site structure to be tidy.

As a general rule, if you think you’ll only mention something a few times, link to the offer directly. If you think you’ll mention it a lot, create a central page.

Conclusion

Site structure doesn’t have to be tricky, you just have to make sure things flow naturally and are tidy. Don’t stick too many pages and drop-down menus in your navigation bar, and keep things in categories. Let Google and your users find their way around your site easily.


 

You got it! It’s that simple. Site structure doesn’t have to be complicated, and now you understand that, it’s time to take a closer look at On Page SEO!

Go To Chapter Four

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