Website Taxonomy


Published Oct 30, 2020, 11:23 AM
Approx. read time 6 mins

While you might never hear us use terms such as these (because we try and stay as jargon free as possible), you can rest assured that we still make sure your site works around these principles.

Website taxonomy refers to the layout of your website and makes sure your content is easy to find. Basically, it's making sure your layout is logical so your users can easily find the information they're looking for.

While it's important for your users to be able to find the information they're looking for, your search engine rankings can also be affected by your website's taxonomy. Because this is such as essential part of your website, we've created this post to help you make the most of your layout.

First things first, what is website taxonomy?

Website taxonomy is the logical layout of content so that users can easily navigate the site and understand the purpose of it. Visually, this can be achieved through having different sections and pages within your site, or having your blog arranged into categories.

However, it's not just the visual content you need to check. it can also relate to the structure of your URL (web address). This could be keeping the domain the same, but then making sure your slugs are specific.

There are slugs on my website? We don't mean the slimy critters you find outside. Your URL slugs are the bits that come after the main part, usually separated by /.

For example, our URL is but then to get to the blog you use with /blog being the slug.

So, basically, keep your slugs relevant to what's on the page and we should all be fine.

So now you know what it is, why is website taxonomy important?

From a users perspective, if they get onto your site and easily find the information they're looking for, they'll generally stay for longer and they'll view you as a reputable source, meaning they might come back for more.

You've probably done this yourself, where you're found a website that's poorly laid out, so you've left them almost instantly to go and find a better site that's easier to find information on. You're not alone in doing this, honestly.

Remember, it's not just users that go through your site. Search Engine bots also go through and crawl your content so they can analyse and index your website. This is one of the ways they determine your ranking.

But how does this all help the users? Say you own a flower selling business and you're selling bouquets. You don't want your users to be scrolling through endless pages of stand alone decorative arrangements, or table centre pieces before they get to the bouquets. So you're likely going to categorise the different things you're selling so your audience can find exactly what they're looking for.

You also make sure you have the slug of, something like, /bouquets which helps search engines know which page the bouquets are on so when someone searches for bouquets your site comes up.

What are the best practices for website taxonomy?

While this may seem straight forward, there are still some hints and tips you can use to make the most of the layout of your site.

Know your audience.

This is true for most types of marketing. You just need to know who your audience are and what makes them tick.

Once you know who they are and why they're coming to your site, you can make sure the content they want to see is easy to find.

Conduct keyword research.

Once you've figured out who your users are and why they've come to your site, you want to make sure you're providing them with the information they've come for.

A woman drinking from a mug while using a laptop

Your site's primary purpose is usually what's used to rank in the search results, but it's essential to have multiple keywords in place for additional categories within your site. Remember to keep these keywords specific to the content on those specific pages.

For example, you might run a bog that talks about exercise, however, your research might find that your users are also interested in avoiding injuries and which running shoes are the best value for money. So these are topics you can incorporate into your structure.

Be consistent.

Don't forget, once you have your categories set up, you need to be consistent with the content you have in them. The more cluttered your categories get, the harder it is for someone to understand your site and find relevant content.

The true is same for any bots which crawl your site, if your content is too jumbled, they may even class your site as being spam.

Keep it simple.

While you could think about hundreds and thousands of categories to sort your content in to, sometimes it's best to keep things straightforward and simple.

Going back to the flower shop, you could have "rose bouquets", "gyp bouquets", "simple bouquets", cascading bouquets" and so many more. Not only that but some of the styles may overlap. Because of this, you find it best just to have one or two categories to save your user sifting through them all to find what they want.

Rather than having all of these as top level categories, have one for bouquets and then have sub categories for all the different types.

This could lead to having the URL of /bouquets/rose, which tells the user and any bots exactly what they're looking at.

Types of Website Taxonomy

There are several different types of taxonomy you could choose to use for your website and you should choose the one you feel best suits your needs. However, I'll only cover the two most popular ones here.

Flat Taxonomy

Flat taxonomy is best used with smaller sites where each page carries equal weight. For example, a vet clinic probably doesn't have many needs, so having a home page, contact, booking, location, services and about us pages will probably do the job. Users visiting the site probably won't need much more than that.

Hierarchical Taxonomy

This is usually used by bigger sites, where pages are arranged by importance. Here, top level categories are broad so there's more content in the sub-categories.

Hierarchical chart

This allows users to move down into more specific content while still being able to navigate between the different sections. It also allows search engines to recognise the relationships between the categories.

It's important to remember that there shouldn't be too many high-level categories or sub-categories as this can become confusing to both users and bots.

Put time into your website's taxonomy.

Creating a successful taxonomy that makes sense for your users and any bots can take time, but it is essential that you do it.

If other aspects of your site are already optimised for SEO, you should probably make sure your structure is as well.