Audit your site architecture
1. Use a tool like ScreamingFrog to crawl your site and get a list of URLs.
Add your website URL in the search box and under the tab Internal, click on the filter symbol and select only the HTML option, to crawl only your content pages. Start crawling and export the report as CSV. If you do not have ScreamingFrog, you can get a list of your URLs from your site host provider or your GA account.
2. Create a spreadsheet with columns for ID, URL, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Level 5, and Page title.
The columns from Level 1 to Level 5 will contain the categories and subcategories of your website. For example, if your main navigation includes the categories Furniture and Accessories, you’ll add these to the Level 1 column. If the Furniture category includes a subcategory called Closets, you’ll add this under Level 2, and so on.
3. Populate the URL and Page title columns of your spreadsheet with data from the ScreamingFrog scan.
You can either copy-paste the two columns, or you can copy only the list of URLs, then use the vlookup function to autopopulate the titles based on URLs. Analyze the structure of your URLs to make sure that you don’t have more than 5 levels of categories. If you do, add the missing levels to your table as new columns, right after the Level 5 column.
4. Split your URLs into categories by using the Data > Split text to column function. Select / as separator.
This will populate your Level 1 > Level 5 columns with the corresponding parts of the URLs such as breadcrumbs and categories. For example, the URL shopname.com/furniture/closets/night-closets will be split into the following columns: Level 1 = shopname.com, Level 2 = furniture, Level 3 = closets, Level 4 = night-closets.
5. Analyze your website architecture by looking at the depth of your categories, the terms used, and the amount of pages under each category.
After the Title column, add four more columns for: Content Type, Topic, Target audience, and Search intent. You will have to populate these manually as you go through the pages, as this requires qualitative analysis. If you have categories that include only a few pages, highlight them and consider migrating those pages to different categories to simplify your website architecture and user journeys. For example, if the Night Closets category includes only 2 items, you might want to move them to the parent category Closets and eliminate the Night Closets category completely. Analyze the terms used for consistency, user- and search-engine friendliness. For example, make sure that all your categories and subcategories use the same structure, are all nouns, don’t use abbreviations, and are common words instead of jargon. Find all the potential SEO/cannibalization issues by selecting the Level columns one by one and applying conditional formatting: go to Conditional formatting > Highlight cells > Duplicate values and choose a color to highlight all duplicates. Look for orphan pages which are attached directly to the root of your website and don’t belong to any category.
6. Add a new column to your spreadsheet for Page status and use the vlookup function to import the data from your ScreamingFrog audit.
Identify broken links and orphan pages that need to be redirected or archived. Look for pages with a status different than 200 (OK): 30x means that the page was moved, 40x means that the page was not found, 50x indicates a server error.
7. Export your Google Analytics data and import it into a new sheet in the same spreadsheet.
Create two new columns named Page Visits and Conversions. Use vlookup to pull the number of page visits and the number of conversions for each page, based on URL. This will show you which categories and pages are the most accessed and which contribute the most to your marketing and sales goals. If you notice categories or pages that don’t bring in visits and don’t contribute to conversions, highlight them and consider restructuring those pages and categories.
8. Check with your product or marketing team if your current website architecture satisfies the user needs and supports coherent user journeys.
For example, if you notice that the category pages receive a lot of traffic, but the cart page has a significantly lower number of visits, you might need to redesign the add to cart experience. If you notice that some categories or products have no visits or conversions, you might want to make them more visible by changing their position in the main navigation, website facets, or by highlighting them through design changes. Analyze the pages or types of pages involved in the most important user journeys first, such as those linked directly to product or service conversions.
9. Check for broken links in your main pages like the homepage, pages in main navigation, and checkout flow pages.
You can use an extension like Check my links for Chrome to make this process faster. Replace any broken link, starting with the ones in the header, footer, sidebars, and checkout flows.