On-page SEO: Site structure, content hubs and internal links

Keystone CopySEO


In this post we’re going to tackle how the way you structure your site can affect your SEO.

If you’re late joining us you can play catch up here – where a list of all the posts in this fast track SEO course series can be found.

Better still you can access the much more comprehensive course itself over at Amazon. It’ll set you back less than a fiver but set your site forward no end on those all-imprtant search engine result pages (SERPs).


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Let’s get going shall we?


On-page SEO: Site structure, content hubs and internal links

Before we kick off I’d like you to lean back in your chair and get comfy.

Breathe deeply.

And empty your mind.


When there’s space for it I want you to picture something:

Imagine a piece of mercury travelling through a maze.



Your goal is to get it to the centre of the maze without it dividing too much because every time it divides it gets smaller and less powerful.

The best way to do this is to design a maze with wide doors and as few of them as possible.

Remember: you want that mercury to get to your goal (the centre) as easily as possible without losing any of its volume.


Have you got it there in one piece?

Nice one!


You have just pictured the perfect site structure. And you have watched the link juice flowing freely through it.

Yes, we did say link juice.

What’s that?


Well, you are going to need to relax, sit back, get comfy, breathe deeply and create a little mind space again to understand.

This time we want you to imagine the links that come to your site from other sites contain a powerful elixir known as link juice.

What makes link juice so powerful is that it has the ability to confer authority.

And authority is a very strong ranking factor.


 Every site that links to you passes on some of its authority, and when it first hits your site (at the page that is being linked to) this link juice is at its strongest.

 Yet it can only pass through your site – like the mercury in the maze – by following the connections you create from page to page.

These are your internal links.

And each internal link that your link juice must pass through sees it getting a little weaker – just like that mercury dividing as it squeezes through the gaps.

So, to get the biggest bit of mercury to the centre of your maze you need to design a maze with wide doors and as few levels as possible.

Which is to say, that to make the most of your link juice you are going to have to give it every possible opportunity to reach your ‘central’ or most important pages as quickly as possible.


Let’s first of all show you how to do this through your site structure and internal links. And then we’re going to sing the praises of content hubs from the rooftops.

Excuse me whilst I fetch a ladder.


Site structure and internal links

Site structure and internal links will affect which pages on your site receive that link juice (or get that mercury before it splits up into numerous tiny drops).

As Bruce Lee said: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

 What site structure and internal links help you to do is to concentrate your authority so that your key pages can deliver a killer kick to the unsuspecting SERPs.

 For an example of just how this works read Graham Charlton’s analysis, in the ‘Find out more’ below, of why certain UK newspapers failed to rank during the 2014 soccer World Cup.

It wasn’t a matter of poor or a scarcity of content: it came down to site structure and use of internal links.

It was a classic own goal. And here’s how to avoid it.


Your site structure is largely defined by your navigation.  This is how your website’s pages are linked together and prioritised.

It includes:

  • Vertical depth (how many levels it has)
  • And horizontal breadth at each level.

As a rule of thumb having too many levels is bad practice. It means that pages are too far away from the homepage (the main source of link juice). It is said that they suffer from a surfeit of click-depth.

But, don’t overdo it: trying to get too flat a structure may result in a disorganised site that is hard to navigate. And that’s not good for the user, or for your SEO.


Site structure is not all about navigation, however.

Your site’s pages should link predominantly to the most important pages.

This is where you want the most of your link juice to go. And you can do this via internal links. Try and make sure that the anchor text – the words that contain the link itself – of your internal link is topically relevant as this is a further ranking factor.


Before we go on to look at content hubs let’s recap:

  • If you have an important page make sure this is reflected by its proximity to the home page.
  • You can bolster your signals to Google that this is an important page by using internal links from other pages.
  • As Google now understands things semantically – that is, as topics rather than single keywords – all of the internal links from relevant pages that you make help Google ‘place’ your main page into a nexus consisting of a wider range of search terms.
  • All of that link juice the other pages pass will also convince Google to place your target page higher in its SERPs too.

Happy days!


Content hubs

Related to all of this mercury and juice flowing are content hubs.

A content hub is a set of content (usually web pages) organised around a specific topic (usually a central page).

 It could be a category of a blog or, better still, a section of pages on a website.

The beauty of a content hub is that it allows you to become an authority on a topic. And, remember Google loves authorities and it loves topics.

Needless to say, it is all neatly tied together with internal links combining together to create a ‘hero’ (or main) page for your hub. And it is this attention to ‘building’ the authority of the hub that makes it work.

  • You may be sporadically blogging around a topic anyway – a content hub pulls it all together. It makes all those tiny hills into one big mountain.
  • Because it is planned it avoids duplication of content ideas and approaches.


Here’s how content hubs work:

Remember that we watched a mercury blob in a maze gradually divide into smaller and smaller pieces? Well, now imagine that the mercury pieces are made out of plasticine instead. And there are tiny blobs of it spread all over your table.

(Hint: each blob is a piece of content.)

Pick one up and inspect it – it’s nothing is it? Now place this blob on another. It picks it up and makes a larger blob. Use this to pick up another bit and, hey presto, it’s bigger again.

We’ll leave you while you pick up all the other bits. When you are done you will have a nicely sized piece of plasticine. Now make a sculpture from it. And what you have made from lots of small blobs of is one rather impressive looking sculpture.

This is exactly what a content hub does.

It picks up all those little bits of content you create and concentrates them into something much larger, much more visible and much more impressive.

For both Google and your site visitors.

Find out more

  • Watch a replay of a UK newspaper’s classic own goal during the 2014 World Cup here.
  • Explore more about SEO and site structure here.
  • Find out how to avoid common navigation mistakes here.
  • Read exactly how to create a content hub and what content to use on it (here and here).


All the posts in this series can be found here.

For the complete version of this Fast track SEO course head over to Amazon.

It’s yours for less than a fiver!


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