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  • How To Backup A WordPress Site Without A Plugin

    Monday, August 6, 2018 by
    How To Backup A WordPress Site Without A Plugin

    How To Backup A WordPress Site Without A Plugin

    You know that having the option to backup files on your WordPress website is incredibly important. By regularly backing up your WordPress site you have a fail-safe in place in case your site is hacked, or you need to restore your site to a previous version. Without a backup system in place, you run the risk of losing all of your hard work. Still, you might not want to use a plugin to backup your WordPress site. If you prefer to create manual backups, you can be sure it’s backing up the right way. Below you’ll learn the pros and cons of using a WordPress backup plugin for your WordPress site. Then we'll show you how to backup your WordPress site without a plugin. best WordPress hosting

    The Disadvantages of Using a WordPress Backup Plugin

    There are tons of WordPress backup plugins out there. These plugins are generally pretty simple to use and can be quickly configured to run automated website backups for the entire site. For most WordPress site owners using one of these backup plugins will be more than enough. Still, there are some reasons you might want to stay away from a WordPress backup plugin and instead pursue an alternative approach.  

    1. You Want to Minimize Plugin Use

    With multiple thousands of plugins available, it can be tempting to install as many plugins as possible. Even though some are incredibly useful, it’s important to take a minimalist approach to utilize WordPress plugins. The more plugins you have on your site the slower your site will perform, and you have an increased chance of a plugin conflict taking down your site, or a compromised plugin creating a security hole in your site.  

    2. You Want a Customized Backup Approach

    Although WordPress backup plugins can be useful, they tend to have a basic file backup approach. This is especially true for free backup plugins. This isn’t always a bad thing if you have a very simple website, but as your site grows more complex you might want more control over what aspects of your site you’ll back up.  

    3. You Want to Enhance Site Security

    A lot of WordPress users are rightly concerned with the security of their WordPress site. In an effort to minimize the number of third-party plugins and programs that have access to your data, you might choose to conduct backups yourself. That way you’re solely responsible for your website’s data and the secure storage of your backups. Since WordPress plugins have been prone to hacking, by controlling your own backups you improve your levels of security. If you want to avoid using a WordPress backup plugin, keep reading to learn how to backup a WordPress site.  

    How to Backup Your WordPress Site Without a Plugin

    As we reviewed above, even though using a WordPress backup plugin might be easier, it still might not be the best choice for every kind of site owner. Below you’ll learn how you can backup your site without the help of a WordPress plugin.  

    1. Do a Manual Backup

    A manual backup might sound difficult to do. However, you can create your own manual backups from directly within your hosting control panel. The steps below are for HostGator customers. To do this navigate to your cPanel, and find the tool called ‘Backup Wizard’. how to perform manual backups in cpanel for wordpress siteRun the tool and you’ll have an entire backup of your site. You can also use this tool to restore your site to a previous version as well. If you don’t want to use the built-in backup wizard and prefer to find and download your site’s files yourself, then follow the steps below:
    1. Open file manager. Locate the tool called ‘File Manager’ within cPanel.cpanel file manager
    2. Find your site’s directory and download your backup. Locate your WordPress site’s files. They should be under a directory called ‘public_html’. Once you’ve found your site click ‘Select All’. Then select ‘Compress’. You can also chose the type of backup you’ll save, and where you want to save your backup.
    3. Download your WordPress database. You’re not quite done yet! Now, you'll need to download your WordPress database as well. To do this locate ‘phpMyAdmin’ within your cPanel dashboard. phpmyadminWith this tool open, select ‘Databases’ from the navigation bar. Then locate the database that’s associated with your WordPress installation. Open up that database and click the ‘Export’ tab on the top window. Save this file in the same location as your other backups.
    Keep in mind that beyond storing backups on your local computer, you may want to upload your backups to a cloud storage tool like Dropbox too. That way if one of your backups is compromised you know you’ll be covered. Make sure you regularly complete these backups as well. After all, there’s no point restoring from a previous backup if it’s a few years old.  

    2. Backup Your Site via FTP

    The second approach to backing up your site is using FTP. This is probably the least frequently used approach, as it’s more technical. But, some users prefer working via an FTP connection. If that sounds like you, then follow the steps below:
    1. Open up FileZilla
    2. Connect to your site
    3. Locate your site’s files
    4. Download and save
    When you open up FileZilla you may need to show hidden files. There are certain WordPress files that are hidden by default that you’ll need to include in your backup. To do this navigate to Server>Force showing hidden files. Once you’ve downloaded and safely stored your backup you’ll also need to download your WordPress database. To do this you’ll need to login to your cPanel and follow the steps for phpMyAdmin above.  

    What's the Best Approach for Your WordPress Site?

    Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the different approaches you can take to backup your WordPress site. If the entire backup process is too much for you, then consider using WordPress managed hosting. This style of hosting will fully manage, backup, optimize, and secure your WordPress site. Keep in mind the method you use isn’t as important as having a regular backup schedule. If a problem occurs with your site you want to be equipped to restore your site to a previous version.
  • Learn to Code from These 10 Places

    Wednesday, August 1, 2018 by
    places that teach you how to code

    10 Places That Teach You How to Code

    Someone building a website today is lucky that it’s much easier to put together something that looks good and professional than it was in the early days of the web. You no longer have to become fluent in html or CSS in order to launch a website. Instead, you can lean on website builders and templates. But while becoming a coding expert is no longer required, learning to code –at least the basics– is still a useful skill for any website owner to have. HostGator Website Builder

    Why You Should Learn to Code

    Even if you hire a programmer for the heavy lifting or use a website builder, understanding the basics of how to code can make you better at maintaining your website and doing a lot of the smaller tasks that will come up over time. In particular, learning to code will:
    • Make you better at hiring people for positions that require coding because you’ll know the right questions to ask and be able to understand their answers.
    • Ensure you understand the backend of your website so you’ll know how to add code for things like Google Analytics tracking or schema markup.
    • Teach you how to recognize and update the different parts of the web page that are most important for on-site SEO.
    In short, it can help you do a lot of things on your website better and save you from having to call in (and pay) a programmer for smaller tasks you can manage yourself. The good news is that basic coding isn’t even all that hard. It definitely looks intimidating at first, but as with any new skill, learning it is just a matter of taking some time and finding the right resources. We can’t help you with time, but we can point you in the right direction for coding resources.  

    10 Places Where You Can Learn To Code

    1. Code Academy

    Price: Free codecademy Code Academy offers free online courses that cover the basics of HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, CMD Line, and SQL. Most of their classes take less than 11 hours and include quizzes that help you test out your knowledge as you go. If you’re good at self-directed education, then their free courses will probably be a good fit. If you could use more direct help, they also offer a paid option that includes a personalized learning plan and live help from advisors.  

    2. W3 Schools

    Price: Free w3schools W3 Schools bills itself as the “world’s largest web developer site.” They offer comprehensive, well-organized text tutorials on how to do all the main things you’d need to know when using html, CSS, Javascript, SQP, PHP, and Bootstrap. They’re a good resource for learning the basics if you learn well by reading, and they’re a good go-to resource to bookmark for when you need examples or a refresher on how to do something down the line.  

    3. FreeCodeCamp

    Price: Free (it’s right there in the name!) freecodecamp FreeCodeCamp has thousands of free lessons that cover html, CSS, Javascript, Github, and more. You can choose to follow individual lessons based on the specific knowledge you need, or take all the lessons in a particular course in order to earn a free certification. In addition to the lessons themselves, FreeCodeCamp also has an active forum with millions of community members who help each other out, so you can ask questions as you go and learn from others’ experiences.  

    4. GA Dash

    Price: Free ga dash GA Dash offers a course that covers html, CSS, and Javascript training. The course is project-based, giving you specific assignments that offer hands-on experience that allows you to put learning to action. It’s good for beginners that learn better by doing rather than reading or watching.  

    5. The Odin Project

    Price: Free the odin project The Odin Project provides free courses that cover html, CSS, Javascript, Git, databases, Ruby, and Ruby on Rails. The courses include a mix of learning by reading and by doing by having you complete several hands-on projects along the way. The Odin Project also offers a forum with an active community of people who can help each other through the learning process.  

    6. Code Conquest

    Price: Free codeconquest The Code Conquest website offers free coding tutorials, programming language cheat sheets, and quizzes to help you test your knowledge. In addition to all of the education resources they offer, they also provide reviews on other coding training resources (including some on this list) and coding-related deals.  

    7. Lynda

    Price: Free trial, then $9.99 a month lynda Lynda is a subscription service that provides access to a large number of online courses on various subjects, including coding and web design. In addition to courses on coding and specific programming languages, you can also find courses that get into topics like UX design and SEO.  

    8. Udemy

    Price: Varies per course udemy Udemy’s another site that offers web courses in a wide variety of topics. Unlike Lynda though, you pay by the course rather than a flat subscription rate. The site has many courses on coding and programming languages, most of which cost around $10 a piece.  

    9. Envato Tuts +

    Price: $19 a month envatotuts Envato Tuts+ provides a number of how-to tutorials, courses, and ebooks that cover an array of coding subjects, as well as other web design topics. Their pricing covers both all the courses and a number of resources like templates and fonts you can use in your web design projects as well.  

    10. Local Coding Bootcamps

    Price: Varies Some people are simply better at learning from a teacher who will work with them in person. If you’re worried online courses and resources won’t match your learning style, do some research into local coding bootcamps being offered in your area. Most cities will have one or more option and you can get the in-person treatment that works best for you.  

    Ready to Start Learning?

    You could probably get by as a website owner without learning to code, but devoting a few hours to learning the basics will absolutely make your life easier and make tasks accessible to you that would otherwise feel out of reach. Take advantage of the many helpful resources available to learn the basics and take more control over your website. For professional help building your website, contact HostGator's Design Services Team.
  • How to Start a Food Blog in 5 Steps

    Monday, July 23, 2018 by
    how to start a food blog

    How to Start a Food Blog (Step by Step)

    Are you an aspiring food blogger who’s dreaming about making a living by sharing your recipes with the internet? To make that dream a reality, you need to take the plunge and set up your own website. But how do you get started? It might seem super complicated to start your own website but these days anyone can start a blog that looks professional and will attract a ton of traffic. Let’s break it down. Here’s how to start a food blog, step by step. Creating a blog

    1. Pick a Name and Buy a Matching Domain

    If you’ve already been thinking about starting a food blog, you might have a couple ideas for names. If you haven’t decided on a name yet, start brainstorming. A good blog name is easy to remember, descriptive and short. For instance, She Simmers is a great example of a catchy name that includes a pun on cooking. domain name for food blog After making a list of blog name ideas and deciding on the best option for your food blog, you need to purchase a domain that matches. You can purchase a domain from HostGator starting at only $12.95 per year. Before you purchase your domain, you need to make sure the name you chose is available. HostGator allows you to search a domain to make sure no one else has already taken it. If the name you want is available, you can go ahead and make it yours!  

    2. Choose a Hosting Platform and Install WordPress

    After you’ve decided on a catchy name for your blog and purchased a domain that matches, you’ll need to choose a reliable hosting platform where your website will live. It might seem like a crazy, difficult task to create a beautiful website but it’s actually super simple and you don’t have to know a thing about code.   Step one is to purchase a hosting plan. HostGator is a great option for beginner bloggers because it’s affordable, it's easy-to-use, and it's fast.   web hosting for food blog After purchasing your hosting, the next step is to download WordPress which is very simple. After you sign up with HostGator and login for the first time, head on over to your Control Panel. There you’ll see a button called “One-Click Installs."  HostGator WordPress One Click Install Click on it and then choose WordPress. Perform the simple steps that follow and then a progress bar will let you know when the download is complete. Once it’s finished, you’ve got a website for your food blog.  

    3. Pick a Gorgeous Theme

    We eat with our eyes first and that applies to your delicious food blog as well, so you’ll need to pick a gorgeous theme for your site that will have your visitors wanting to stick around for a long time. There are tons of free and paid WordPress themes that you can install with just the click of a button that are easy to navigate and mobile-friendly. Choose a theme specifically designed for food blogs so you’ll get all the features you’re looking for.   This theme from Foodica is a perfect example of a clean, minimalist design for food bloggers who want their recipes to be the center of attention. It offers six different color themes and a featured slider and carousel to showcase your best recipes.   foodica wordpress theme for food blogs

    4. Download Plugins

    Next you need to download some WordPress plugins to ensure your website is fully stacked and optimized. There are a number of free plugins you can download for your WordPress site that provide value, including: There are also some WordPress plugins designed specifically for food bloggers that can really step up your blog game. Tasty Recipes formats your recipes for search engine optimization, creates print-friendly recipes, adds star ratings, and more. tasty recipes wordpress plugin for food blog

    5. Start Blogging and Get Some Subscribers

    Now that your website is all set up, you need to start blogging. Begin creating content that your visitors will love and will keep them returning to your site again and again. You’ll also want to start growing your email list, it’s one of the most important aspects of any blog. Having an email list gives you the ability to reach out to your audience any time you want, whether you’re emailing them about a new recipe you posted or announcing a sale for your new cookbook. You can easily gain more subscribers by adding popups to your site with OptinMonster's lead generation software. OptinMonster provides numerous options for grabbing the attention of your visitors and enticing them into clicking that subscribe button, including an Exit-Intent popup that can track when a user is about to leave your site and send a popup at exactly the right time. exit popup for food blog email subscribers

    Start Your Food Blog

    Starting a food blog isn’t as simple as just writing some recipes and posting them on the web but it doesn’t have to be difficult either. With these tips you’ll be able to start the food blog of your dreams that will have people salivating. Congratulations on your new food blog. Now get out there and start blogging!
  • 15 Creative Website Design Ideas

    Thursday, July 19, 2018 by
    creative website design ideas

    15 Creative Website Design Ideas

    Have you ever clicked through to a website and immediately clicked away because you didn’t like what you saw? Maybe the website was too cluttered and it made the experience overwhelming. Maybe it looked like a website built in the 90’s and you worried the information would be out of date because the website design was. Like it or not, website design matters. Your website’s the primary face of your brand online and its design plays a key role in how your visitors experience the site. Incorporating smart and creative website design ideas gives you a way to stand out and provide a unique, positive experience for your visitors. If you’ve been considering a web design makeover, but you haven’t decided yet what you really want, these creative website design ideas can provide some inspiration. HostGator Website Builder

    1. Make It Interactive.

    Ideally, you don’t want a visit to your business website to be a passive experience. You want visitors to be engaged with the information on your pages. One way you can pretty much ensure that will happen is by adding interactive elements to your website. This can include anything that gives the visitor the power to change their experience on a page by scrolling and clicking certain parts of it. One good example of this is the Nurture Digital homepage:
    interactive web design interactive website design
    Instead of a typical menu, their different services are labeled alongside a cute animation. Scrolling over each option changes the animation slightly, and clicking opens up a page within the page that provides more information. Even though the page is different than what people are used to on a homepage, it’s intuitive to figure out and still makes it easy to find all the information a visitor needs.  

    2. Use Original Illustrations.

    An interactive site won’t make sense for every brand, but there’s a much simpler step you can take to make sure your website shows a unique brand personality. Hiring a graphic designer to create original illustrations for your website and content can help you develop a unified visual experience for your brand. Illustrations that are in the same style and color scheme across the website will tie all the different pages of your website together visually and tell visitors something about your brand personality without them even realizing it’s happening. This is a web design tactic we use here at HostGator. You can see a unified style between the images used on our homepage, our product pages, and our blog. Each one is relevant to the context on the page, but also fits in with the larger visual whole of the site.
    use original illustrations on blog create original graphics for website

    3. Use Animation.

    While it’s a bit more difficult (and costly) to achieve, animation can be another alluring way to create a memorable website experience. Adding some movement to the image on the page can draw people’s eyes and make them more interested in what they’re seeing. The Rollpark website uses a mix of animation that’s constant when you’re on the page and some that’s triggered by scrolling. In both cases, it adds something visually arresting to your experience of the page while helping draw attention to the messaging the brand wants to get across.
    use animation on homepagewebsite animation example
    You do want to be careful if you choose to use animation on your website that it supports the larger message you’re trying to communicate to visitors, rather than serving as a distraction away from it.  

    4. Incorporate Product Photos.

    Let’s be honest, product photography often isn’t particularly beautiful or interesting. But it can be. And if you take an approach to your product photography that makes it more artsy or attractive, you could make photos of your product the center of your web design. People Footwear does a good job of this. By positioning their shoes in visually aesthetic and creative ways, they create images that both serve as good backgrounds for their homepage and communicate something about the products – and not just how they look, you can tell right away from the images that they’re good for activities like walking and tennis. use original photos in website design  

    5. Use a Unique Font.

    Most of us that aren’t web designers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about fonts, but they have an effect on how we interact with different websites we visit. Choosing a unique font is a small way you can add some additional personality to your website and create a design experience that feels original. There are a lot of resources online for finding new fonts and if you want to mix things up by using different fonts on one page, Font Combinations is a useful tool for helping you pick out fonts that look good together. Caava Design uses a mix of different fonts to create a visually compelling homepage that tells you something about their style as a brand and as designers. The design all works together naturally enough that you might not notice the different fonts if you’re not looking for it, but once you notice you can see how well they all work off each other. use unique fonts in web design

    6. Make Your Content the Star.

    If you’re putting a lot of work into creating high-quality content, then you want people to find it. One option for making your content more visible is to build your website around it. Content-centric websites, sometimes called content hubs, put your valuable content front and center. They’re designed to make sure people easily notice the content options they’re most interested in. Websites that are built to center content make the most sense for media companies that have a business model based on content or for brands that want to give high priority to their content marketing programs. Makeup.com from L’oréal falls into the latter category. The entire website is focused on drawing attention to the content the brand has created around makeup subjects. People can also find the company’s products by scrolling down some, but they’re not the main focus of the website. The website clearly follows the content marketing principle of providing value first and promoting products later. how to feature content in website design

    7. Leave Visitors Wanting More.

    Sometimes less is more when it comes to great web design. If you can keep your main landing page simple but intriguing, it can make your visitors want to keep scrolling or clicking to figure out what the site is all about. The restaurant Maaemo uses this principle. At first, the only thing you see on the website is the name (in interesting font, see tip #5) with a beautiful moving landscape in the background. The only clue at this point as to what the site is for is the “Book a table” in the top left corner.   minimalist web design You have to scroll down to learn that the website is for a restaurant that specializes in using natural, local produce as a way to help people better understand the local landscape and culture through food (which makes the initial image relevant to the brand’s positioning). It’s beautiful and interesting enough to catch your attention from the first moment, but it makes you do just a little but of work to engage with the website and learn more.  

    8. Dare to Be Colorful.

    While a minimalist style can be just right for some brands, for others your personality will be better represented by a burst of color. Wistia’s website is full of vibrant colors, which makes perfect sense for an artsy brand that presents a playful personality. color block web design You don’t have to limit yourself to a basic color scheme that just uses a small part of the color palette, as long as you choose your colors wisely so they all look good together, you can make your website stand out and make its mark by using vibrant colors.  

    9. Use (Silent) Video.

    To start, let me be very clear that I don’t mean using loud autoplay videos. That creates a bad user experience and will inspire many visitors to quickly x out of the window and find another site to visit instead. But you can use silent video as a way to make the background image on your website do more by showing more. Mediaboom does this by having a video in the background of their homepage that shows people working and browsing the web. It’s subtle enough not to distract from the positioning or CTA on the page in text (the most important font and CTA button are in yellow, while the video’s in black and white), but it does some extra work to humanize the brand and provide visual information about what the business does. website design with video on homepage

    10. Make Your CTA Bold.

    A lot of the web design ideas on this list are about providing an experience that’s visually interesting or unique. But it’s important that whatever else you do with your website’s design, you also make sure it does the main job you need it to: communicating what your brand is and what makes it special. For that reason, you should make sure that your web design centers your main positioning. You want everyone that comes to your website to quickly learn what makes your business valuable. Freshbooks does a pretty good job of this on their homepage. The first thing you notice when you visit is the big blue writing that tells you they provide “Small Business Accounting Software that Makes Billing Painless.” You know what their product is, who it’s for, and why people should use it. make cta clear in landing page design

    11. Use Parallax Scrolling.

    Parallax scrolling is when the website changes as you scroll down. Sometimes it’s the background that changes and sometimes your scrolling triggers animations. Either way, it makes for a memorable experience that gives the visitor a lot to look at as they navigate the page. The Make Your Money Matter site uses parallax scrolling to let you control the pace of an animated story that makes the case for choosing credit unions over banks. It’s an intuitive and entertaining way to take people through an argument that might have sounded dry and boring if delivered in another way. parallax scroll on website

    13. Make Your Navigation Fun.

    Remember the “choose your own adventure” books you read as a kid? Getting to pick where the story went next was exciting. You can design your website to provide your visitor a similar experience by letting them pick the version of your website they want to see as they go. This can be as simple as letting them choose which persona they fall into before delivering up the correct version of the website for them. Or it can be something more fun like the “choose your own adventure” experience provided by Lower Junction.
    fun website navigationcreative use of navigation on website
    The site lets you choose between options like “Follow the Smell of Java” or take a “Tour of Moca.” Each option takes you on a different path of learning about the Lower Junction community in Toronto. It’s an innovative way to introduce people to an apartment community.  

    13. Use Gamification.

    While this option won’t be a fit for every type of website, in some cases incorporating gamification into the design of your website can be a smart way to get your visitors more engaged and drive the kind of actions you want them to take. Gamification involves providing a system of rewards in exchange for the actions you want your visitors to take – like in a video game. For example, you could devise a points system that adds up to discounts or upgrades. Dropbox uses gamification to encourage users to start using the program more actively, and to share the program with other friends. In exchange, users get more space for free rather than having to pay to upgrade. incorporate gamification into website design Gamification plays on the human desire for competition – even if it’s not against someone else. Feeling like you’re earning new levels and winning feels good. If you can create that feeling, you can get people to take action.  

    14. Pack More In With Mouseover Text.

    We’ve established that clutter is a bad thing on a webpage, but sometimes you have a lot to say. Figuring out how to get all the most important points onto the page without making the page look too crowded is a challenge. One handy design feature you can use to solve this issue is mouseover text. Stink Studio provides a collection of images with basic textual information over them on their homepage, but when you scroll over each, you get more detail on what you’ll see if you click. use mouseover text in website design That allows them to keep the website more visual, while still saying everything they need to.  

    15. Provide a Virtual Tour.

    If your business has a physical location you want to give visitors a taste of, you can use a 360 virtual tour to provide a feel for what a visit will be like. Even if you don’t have a storefront, it can be a way to humanize your brand and staff for your visitors by bringing them into the headquarters where you work every day. Virtual tours are a neat way to allow visitors a new way to interact with your brand and get more out of visiting your website. Agora Gallery uses virtual tours to give website visitors a view of the art that’s likely to entice them to want to see it in person. For someone on the fence about making a visit, a glimpse of what they’ll see when they get there could be enough to tip them toward coming in. include virtual tour on website  

    What's the Right Design for Your Website?

    Providing a unique or cool experience is nice, but it should never be at the expense of your site being easy to navigate and clearly communicating what you do. Balance creativity with function. Whatever creative web design ideas, or website builder tools you decide to use, make sure you always make it clear what your business does, why visitors should care about your brand and products, and what you want them to do next. If you know you want to take your website design to the next level, but you don’t really know how to make that happen, HostGator’s web design services could be the solution you’re looking for. We can help you put together a website that’s optimized for search, looks great on mobile, and represents your brand effectively. Get in touch to learn more.
  • Website Architecture: 6 Best Practices for SEO

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by
    website architecture best practices

    SEO 101: Best Practices for Website Architecture

    Some websites start simple with just a few pages and little by little over the years grow into something big, complicated, and unorganized. If you don’t take time to think about your site structure early on, it’s easy for your site to grow into something chaotic before you realize it. A badly organized site is confusing for the user, hard for the website owner to manage, and bad for SEO. Whether you’re reading this soon after launching a new website or already have a years-old website that’s grown unwieldy, it’s worth taking time now to define your website architecture. It’s important for improving your SEO, and it will make your life easier when maintaining the site in the years to come. HostGator Website Builder

    What Website Architecture Means

    Website architecture is the structure you use to organize your website. For most websites, your site hierarchy should have a pyramid structure:
    • At the top is your home page, which is the most important page on the website.
    • The next level below that will include the next most important pages, so those that you want to see in your website’s main menu. That probably means your About page and the few main category pages that most of your products and content will fall into.
    • Below that will be any relevant subcategories that go under each category, followed by the individual pages that are all organized into the relevant categories you’ve defined, such as product pages.
    best website architecture for seo A website architecture helps you organize your website so that you’re giving priority to the most important pages in terms of visibility on the site while ensuring that every page is easy for visitors to navigate to when it’s what they’re interested in.  

    Why Your Site Hierarchy Matters for SEO

    To start, a well-organized website is easier for users to navigate. Given that Google cares about metrics that indicate a good user experience, such as bounce rates and the amount of time a visitor spends on the website, making it easy for your visitors to find what they’re looking for will pay off in improved behavior metrics. In addition, a clear site hierarchy makes your website easier for Google to crawl. By using intuitive, clear categories and subcategories, Google’s bots will have an easier time understanding the layout of the site, which pages are the most important (those high-level categories), and seeing how different pages relate to each other. That information helps Google better figure out what your website is about and what search terms your pages should show up for.  

    How to Build an Intuitive Site Hierarchy

    The earlier you define your site hierarchy, the easier it will be to keep your website organized in a way that’s intuitive and good for SEO. If you already have a large site, then you may have to do some work upfront to move all of your current pages into the new structure, but once your structure is in place, sticking with it in the future will be easy.  

    1. Create an organization plan.

    The first step is to sit down and figure out how best to organize your website. If you have a small site with fewer than 10 pages, then this part should be fairly simple (although it’s still important to do!). If you have a larger website with dozens or hundreds of pages, it will be a little more complicated. Aim to keep your site hierarchy as simple and straightforward as possible. Unless you have a particularly large site with thousands of pages a la Amazon, your hierarchy shouldn’t go more than three levels deep.  Ideally, a user should never be more than three clicks away from any other page on the website. Your site hierarchy will also help with element of your SEO we’ve covered in a separate blog post: your URL structure. For most online stores, the category name is included in the URL for each product page in the category. If we take an online bookstore as an example, if the website has a category for Textbooks with different subjects as subcategories underneath, the URL for a math textbook would look something like: www.book-website.com/textbooks/mathematics/name-of-specific-textbook.html This provides an extra SEO bonus, as categories become extra keywords in the URL that help Google understand what each page is about and which search terms it should rank for.    

    2. Define your primary categories.

    Think carefully about the main categories you can divide your pages into that are:
    1. Descriptive of what the different pages and products are
    2. Intuitive to any visitor to your website.
    As an example, for an online bookstore it may be possible to divide your products into categories like length or the color of the book covers, but most visitors to the website will find it more intuitive to see your products divided into categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, and common genres.    In other words, don’t choose your categories arbitrarily; they should be based on information that’s valuable to your end user. Think first about the way they search and browse, then structure your website based on that.  

    3. Define any relevant subcategories.

    Not all websites will need subcategories within the larger categories, but many will. Using the example of our online bookstore, Fiction and Nonfiction are both huge categories on their own. Visitors will have a much easier time finding a book they like if they can browse more specific subcategories like Science Fiction or Memoir. As with your primary categories, try to think like your customers in determining the most useful subcategories to include. You want them to be specific enough to be useful, but not so specific that your categories become bogged down in lots of words and details. For our purposes here, Science Fiction is a better category than YA Dystopian Books with a Female Lead (although the latter could make a good topic for content).  

    4. Minimize the number of clicks between pages.

    One of the benefits of a good site hierarchy is that it helps you create a site menu that makes the website easier for people to navigate without losing sight of other key parts of the website they may want to navigate to. If people can see the main menu on every page of the website, and see the relevant subcategories as a dropdown menu when they scroll over it, then you make it easy for people to move through your website without having to use the back button or do a lot of clicking around. This helps with the goal we discussed above of keeping every page on the website within three clicks of every other page. As you work out your site structure, pay attention to whether or not there are any pages or sections of the website that are more than three clicks from each other. If there are, then re-think your structure to correct that.  

    5. Strategically use internal linking.

    Internal links are an important SEO tool that help Google to more efficiently index your website and understand the relationship between your different pages. And since you have total control over the anchor text for internal links (the words that are hyperlinked and show up underlined in blue), they give you the chance to tell Google specific keywords to associate with the page.   Internal linking is also useful for your visitors. When they find a page on your website helpful, they can trust that the links on that page will bring them to more information that’s also relevant and useful. It gives you a way to guide them from page to page and increase the traffic of related pages on your website. As an added bonus, when you have a page that’s doing especially well in the search engines, internal linking is a way you can spread some of that page’s authority around. By linking to other pages on your website on the page that Google’s decided is authoritative, it boosts their authority as well. As with most SEO tacticss, you have to be careful not to overdo it with internal linking. Only use it when it’s relevant and helpful to visitors.  But if you keep an eye out for relevant internal linking opportunities, you’ll find that there are plenty of times you can use internal links without getting spammy about it.  

    6. Make use of 301 redirects.

    Creating a site hierarchy and re-arranging your website to fit it will likely mean moving some pages to new URLs. Anytime you change a web page’s URL – for this reason or any other – make sure you use a 301 redirect. If the page you moved has built up any link authority, you don’t want to lose it. A 301 redirect lets Google know that the web page at the new URL is the same one that people liked and linked to at the old URL. And importantly, it means that potential visitors can still find the page they’re looking for rather than ending up on an error page. Broken links create a bad user experience, something you always want to avoid.  

    Defining Your Website Architecture

    Creating a site hierarchy is a useful exercise for clarifying what you want your website to look like and how it should be organized. It’s an important step for on-site SEO, but it’s also a good practice for keeping your website organized and intuitive for both your users and yourself. Good website organization has no downsides and plenty of upsides. Don't miss the rest of the articles in our SEO 101 series! For more help improving your SEO rankings, get in touch with HostGator's expert SEO services.