The 5 Truths of eCommerce Website Architecture

Posted July 15, 2014 by   in eCommerce Website, Google, SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is really just a series of educated guesses. It is educated guessing mixed with data-driven decisions that lead to more educated guesses and more data-driven decisions. Fear not though because even within all this guessing remain some basic principles and best practices. The most important SEO consideration for an eCommerce website is the website’s categorical structure / website architecture.

ECommerce website architecture isn’t rocket science, but it can certainly make or break your organic traffic (which in turn will eventually negatively impact all traffic channels) if you don’t understand and nail down the basics of eCommerce website architecture. Your eCommerce store could generate valuable, more easily-earned organic traffic by implementing these 5 truths of an eCommerce website’s architecture.

1.  Content closest to the homepage receives the most value.

In eyes of Google, your homepage is the most authoritative page on your site. Therefore, the pages closest to that page receive a greater amount of that authority simply because you have placed it close to that page. It is your opportunity to tell Google and the other search engines that, “This page is SO freakin’ important that I am going to make it as easily accessible as possible for the user.”

2. Your main level / secondary pages are the next most authoritative page(s) on your site.

After your homepage, and by structuring your eCommerce store correctly, your main level navigation pages will contain a majority of your site’s authority. Generally speaking, your eCommerce store’s main level navigation pages are likely your category pages. What happens with the authority of these “secondary pages” is that the “link juice” (AKA page authority value) is passed from the homepage to category pages at a greater value simply because they are close to your most authoritative page (your homepage). Think of this like Newton’s Pendulem – energy comes from the first ball and is passed through the rest of the balls while losing momentum (page authority) along the way, but energy is passed, nonetheless. The transfer isn’t one-to-one or equal, but energy is still passed.


3. Category content increases main level / category navigation’s page authority.

Since your store’s main level categories are, by design and architecture, typically the 2nd most authoritative page(s) on your eCommerce website, adding high-quality, relevant, buying funnel appropriate content to that page will have three effects:

  1. Increase conversions
  2. Increase page authority
  3. Increase sub-category page’s authority

4. By increasing your main level navigation’s (category-level) authority, you increase the authority of its sub-categories pages.

Just like placing content close to the homepage increases its authority and tells Google, “I believe that that users find this page valuable”, the same principle applies to the child pages (sub-categories) of a category page. Also, interlinking the category pages and sub-category pages within the content on the respective pages is strongly suggested as it creates more ways for the user (and Google’s spiders) to understand their connectivity and relevance to one another.

5. Keywords are still a HUGE factor.

The selection of keywords for your categories, sub categories, sub-sub categories and products should never be undervalued or underestimated. The keywords you choose when you build your eCommerce website are what Google is going to deem your store relevant (hopefully), so the selection of these keywords could literally make-or-break your entire online business.

Even the smallest details like choosing the singular vs plural form of a word could literally be a difference of 50,000 monthly searches. Think of how detrimental it could be to your store if you chose the keyword that receives 25,000 monthly searches vs the one that receives 75,000 monthly searches. That’s a lot of eyeballs (and billfolds).

Below is the organic search traffic for one of our Marketing partners (Clients), a local Indianapolis-based eCommerce business, who gave us the opportunity to design and build them a new website with a heavy emphasis on website category architecture. This 4-month snapshot speaks for itself and the increase in traffic has produced a 15X ROI.


Your eCommerce website page architecture is one of the most important aspects of your eCommerce website. It should be handled by professionals who are experienced with the wild little details of an eCommerce website and their impact and implications. Like I always say, just because someone has fixed a car before doesn’t mean you should let them fix yours – Take it to the pros.