Organizing Website Content

By: Jordan Dick Posted in Content Strategy, Web Design

Planning and organizing website content can feel overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of it. I’m going to show you how to tackle this in a way that already makes sense to you.

Your website navigation is like a restaurant menu

Organizing website content like a restaurant menue.

Organize your website content into logical categories like a restaurant menu. Most menus are usually divided into categories, and subcategories. Pastas go with pastas and burgers go with burgers, etc. Very sensible.

Here’s the right way to do it…

If you were a landscaper offering different landscaping services like, “landscape lighting,” “landscape design,” etc., you’d want all those services under one category, on one tab of your main menu. Just like the example below. This means you definitely want each service to have its own page.

Drop down menu example for organizing content

The right way: With individual pages for each service in the dropdown.

Here’s the wrong way to organize content…

Listing all of your services on one page, instead of individual landing pages, is a beginner’s mistake. From a search engine optimization perspective, it can be a very costly mistake for a business.

Services on one page example.

The wrong way: Just listing all services on one page and not having individual landing pages for each service is a missed opportunity for your business.

The main menu should clearly tell the story

logical main nav makes organizing website content easy.

Your main menu should tell your visitors exactly what they are going to get at a glance. Creatively conveying this message in your menu bar is great if you can do it in a way that doesn’t make the visitor have to guess where the links will take them.

The 3 most common pages on any website

We already know what 3 of the pages on your site will probably be. Let’s define them.

1. Home Page: Often, this may be the first page on a website that a visitor sees (but not always the case.) At a glance, your home page should identify your website’s main offer, as in “what you do,” “who you do it for” and “why you’re different.”

Tip: As shown in the RT Landscape example above, a descriptive “tag line” (also called a strap line) near your company name or logo can be very helpful in describing what you do at a glance.

2. About Page: Arguably the most visited page on one’s site. This page usually includes some background info.

It’s also a great opportunity to post a picture of yourself, or your team.

Show some personality with your about page. Tell your story and make it fun…

A great about page by Raven Internet Marketing Tools

Example of a creative “About” page

Personally, I have never been a big fan of formal “bios,” but they do have their place. I think the about page is really your best opportunity to take some creative license and show that you’re human. Your visitors will connect with real faces and authentic copy.

Tip: While writing about yourself, creatively tie-in benefits for your prospect and your “about” page becomes that much more engaging. See this great “about page” article on Copyblogger that touches on the idea of not making your about page all about you.

3. Contact Page: This is an easy one. Here’s where you put your contact info, a contact form and possibly a link for driving directions if applicable. Testimonials can go here as well, and don’t forget a link to your Google Places/Plus business listing and and social media profiles.

How many pages do I need on my website?

The short answer is, every service you provide needs its own landing page. Lumping all of your services on one page is a missed opportunity for your business and here’s why…

Why multiple landing pages are key

Back to the restaurant concept. Not all of your visitors will enter through the front door of your restaurant, (your home page). A well optimized site, funnels traffic through multiple entry points (landing pages).

You can create lots of different pages for visitors to land on through search engines. If you offer many different types of services, having a page for each of those services provides multiple entry points into your website.

If you can solve different types of problems for people, then you need different pages, explaining how your product or service can solve a particular problem. Again, this touches on more advanced concepts in content marketing and search engine optimization.

Even if you’re a beginner, and have no clue about “landing pages,” or you’re just working on assembling content for your web designer, take my advice and break your services into individual dedicated pages.

Do you know your target audience?

Having a solid understanding of your target audience and what their needs are, can help you decide what type of content to include on your website.

These questions can serve as inspiration for developing your content:

  • Who are you building this website for?
  • What are your visitor’s needs?
  • What are their pain points?
  • How can you resolve their doubts and concerns?
  • Will your website be able to easily fulfill your visitor’s needs?
  • Are you answering their basic questions?
  • Are you speaking to them in language they can understand (their language.)
  • How will you substantiate your claims? E.g., testimonials, social proof, etc.
  • Are you guiding your visitors to do something on your site, like take a next step?
  • Is there a “call to action?” E.g., sign up for a newsletter, make a purchase, submit a contact form, visit a next page, etc.

Let’s Recap

If you gave some of the preceding questions some thought, you probably have some content ideas. Your main pages will likely serve as your main categories.

For example, a health club website might use “Fitness Classes” as a main category on the nav bar. Using a drop-down menu under the category of “Fitness Classes,” they might list other pages like, “Yoga Classes” or “Aerobics Classes,” etc.

Remember, it’s in your best interest to create separate pages for each service. Using the preceding example, this means each type of fitness class should have its own landing page.

Following some of the advice outlined in this guide should help streamline the website planning process for you.

If you would like to leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you. Or contact me direct if you have any questions.

Comments

  1. Question! I’m building a tattoo website, the services they offer are strictly tattoos only but they offer different styles like custom design, trash polka, cover ups and mastectomy. Would it be a good idea to make each tattoo type it’s own page too?

  2. Thank you sharing this information. We are in the process of a long awaited and needed update for our site.

    We needed this information when we started. Your article is appreciated.

  3. Thank you so much. I just started my own business and trying to design the website for it. I have never deigned any professional website before so I am kind of all over the place. Your blog has given me lots of ideas in organizing my site. I also want to know what information should be on the homepage. thank you.

    • Thanks for the kind words Clifford. I couldn’t say what specifically should be on a home page without knowing more about the market. But in broad terms, your home page should be an overview of your core offering(s). For some businesses this could mean that they are serving different segments of a marke, (e.g., commercial and residential).

      Or it could mean that they are providing some core services to solve different types of problems for the same or different type(s) of customers. Whatever your core services are, you’ll want to highlight those services and provide links to landing pages that lead your visitors toward the information they need to see and ultimately towards conversion.

      When organizing a home page, one of the most important things is to have a headline that really captures your value proposition. What’s the overarching benefit that you are offering your prospects? Why should they bother to read on? If you don’t nail this, you stand an excellent chance of losing your visitor within the first few seconds. Think about the headline on a newspaper. You might glance at it in the store. It may grab your attention or it may not. Your headline can make or break your home page… or any page for that matter. Hope this was helpful.

  4. Thank you for the article, it was very helpful.

    I had a quick thought on if a business offers services and different programs offering the same services (just tailored to different audience) would it still be an intelligent idea to have separate landing pages for each service program? But, they all include the same tools used to give the service and “customers” are either “patients” or “members” yet patients can be members too. I guess it comes down to the “selling” of the service, because each customer or “patient” can either purchase a package or become a member.

    Any thoughts? Suggestions?

    • Hi Gina, that’s really good question you asked there. This scenario comes up frequently, where the business’s product or service can solve different kinds of problems for different kinds of people. The approach is a longterm content marketing strategy.

      You would do this by tailoring your blog content to speak directly to the problems faced by the different audience segments. You would use your articles to lead the prospect towards your solution (your sales pages.)

      For example, let’s use this article of mine that you landed on. You landed here because you had a problem. You wanted to know how to better organize content on your web site, right? Now, think about that for a moment. Who would Google such a thing? People in all kinds of different situations. People building their own sites. Professionals helping businesses with their client’s site, students, etc. Some of these folks may be my type of customer. Many may not, and thats ok too.

      This article was actually created some time ago because I had a client ask me how they should organize their content. That was a real client problem, and it’s just one type of problem that my clients typically have.

      So the idea is to provide useful problem solving content that addresses your prospect’s problem. For my business, when people are getting ready to create a website, sometimes they start creating content for it. i.e., “I already know I need website, but how will I organize it.” This is one way to attract potential business with your site. You demonstrate your expertise through your problem solving articles.

      Of course, many people will find what they need and leave, but some will reach out to you… **BUT, if you had another article to refer them to that furthers their awareness and brings them closer to understanding how your solution can solve their problem, then you have the makings of a content marketing funnel.

      Basically, you are taking visitors on a journey towards your solution (your sales page) and that journey can begin at any number of stages based on the awareness your prospect has of their problem and your solution, and the stage they are at with their problem. I think I just created the beginnings of another blog post right here. 🙂

  5. Great article!

    I am working on a website for a company that offers many types of services in different geographical locations. After doing some research, it appears that for SEO purposes each geographical location needs it’s own subdomain or subdirectory, but also each service needs it’s own landing page (according to this article). What advice do you have for how to organize such a website?

    • Dustin,

      Much depends on the service and how the business is set up. Does this business have multiple offices with unique phone numbers in different geographic locations? If it does, then it should be taking advantage of multiple Google business listings (one for each geographic location.) That will allow the business to show in the local search results for a given geographic area.

      That said, if they are indeed taking advantage of multiple business listings, then each of those listings should be pointing to a website page on your site for each location. I use the Yoast Local SEO plugin for setting up WordPress sites with multiple locations.

      To answer your question about sub domains versus sub directories … There has been lot’s of talk on this over the years. The Yoast plugin I use, uses subdirectories like so, http://yourbranddotcom/locations/your-city/. That would confirm that the subdirectory approach is best, as Yoast is the expert in WordPress SEO.

      Rand Fishkin’s (excellent resource) site has a pretty good article on this topic Article on subdomain vs. subdirectory for SEO. And Matt Cutts (Google Engineer) posted an Often referred to article on multiple locations on multiple locations a number of years ago.

      And if all that didn’t confuse you, here’s Another good article from a highly respected resource that leans more towards subdomains, which is probably not the way I would approach it, but it comes from a respected resource.

  6. Thank you so much for explaining the tabs and categories. It has been overwhelming trying to organize all my thoughts on my site. Looking forward taking these tips and applying them to my website. Thank you again.

  7. hey,
    thanks for the information but i want to start a website about a medical center what could be your ideas about it?
    thanks.

  8. Hi: just started on WP BLOG theme and a bit confused. As you said: static pages: about/ contact/ advertise.. etc.
    Then the blog content: Is that a catagory?
    Does that keep going on header eg. Music ,Wine ,Reviews , as such?
    I have will have :
    1. Wine essays
    2. Wine reviews
    3.Music essays
    4.Audio (sound essays)
    5. Audio product reviews
    How are these arranged? Is there a static page (menu) called blog ? ( I like essays better) Are these categories?
    Are they all on top header with ( sub cat. Beneath them)?
    Thanks
    Howard

    • Howard,

      Blog content is different than your static content. Usually, static content would be used for product/service pages, informational support pages, etc. These are the pages you would want to push people towards because that’s where you would put your offer(s). These are the pages that do the selling. Of course, your “about” page and ‘fAQ’s” page are not directly doing selling, but they would also be static pages as you pointed out.

      People often get confused about what a blog post is, as apposed to a “page” on your website. The main difference is that blog posts are organized and archived by date, where as a static page is not. It’s just there. It’s not included in the hierarchy of latest posts and it doesn’t get stored into your blog post archives.

      Blog content is generally informational content. That doesn’t mean that it can’t do some selling for you, but when we talk about blog content used for marketing purposes, the selling is done indirectly and subtly. It’s done through education. In the same way that you found this blog post on organizing content. It’s an educational post.

      Your blog would content would normally not be in the global navigation, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be and WordPress would certainly allow you to add a category page as a link in the main menu.

      Ideally, I would need to know more about your business and your objectives to guide you on how to organize your site effectively. However, based on what you’ve put forth, if your site is just about wine, you could have a “Wine Blog” in the main nav and then list blog category pages as submenu tabs …

      Wine Blog >>
      – Wine Essays
      — Audio Essays
      – Wine Reviews
      — Audio Reviews

      You could also eliminate the “Wine Blog” tab in the main nav and just list the categories, “Wine Essays,” and “Wine Reviews,” with the respective submenu tabs of “Audio Essays” and “Audio Reviews.”

      Hope that’s helpful to you.

  9. Hi
    I am starting an affiliate marketing website. I would need your advice on what the content should look like. I am not marketing for one firm only.would love to know your ideas.
    Thanks

    • Shakira,

      That’s a very broad question without any specific background info.

      Assuming you want to sell someone else’s products through your website for a commission, you need to figure out a way to get people to your website.

      So, why would they come? What kinds of problems can you solve for them? What kinds of questions can you answer that a prospective customer might want to know before making a purchase?

      As an example, let’s say I was
      Selling a specific type of underwater camera. I might create some online YouTube content and blog content with a detailed review of the product in question.

      I might show examples of footage taken under water. I would get really detailed and give the kind of advice one can only give from having intimate product knowledge.

      You wound share the kind of info that you wish you knew before owning the product. Then you provide your affiliate link. Now that’s just one basic example.

      You could get deeper with this stuff. Let’s say you have a product that solves many different problems. You could create content that shows you how to do something and then offer the affiliate links to the products you used in your tutorial.

      Think about it. Let’s say you had some materials (products) thst could be used when building a garden. One way to market those products is to provide solutions for people building a garden. E.g., “how to build a garden for under $100 in one day.”

      Sorry for the long response. Once I get going it’s hard to stop. I do hope this gets you thinking laterally. 🙂

  10. Hi Jordan,

    Thank you for this post, such a wonderful content.

    I have a query. I am planning to create a website for the services that i can offer. However they fall on different categories e.g., financial planning, photography, web development.

    Would you recommend to create three different websites for those or it is ok to just use one website as long as they are on different landing pages?

    Thank you very much. You will be such a great help to get me started

    • JC,

      If the market segments that you are targeting have overlap, then I would house them under one website. For example, I just created a site for a client that primarily teaches swing dance, but she also teaches wedding dance lessons. In this instance, it makes sense to include both services under one website because they are thematically similar and there is audience overlap. The targeted audience for that website could be interested in both services. You could create two websites, but the question is would you need to? I don’t think so.

      For the industries that you mentioned, they all target completely different markets, therefor I would not include them under one website. However, depending on the type of photography you did, it might make sense to combine that with web development, BUT only if you offered business website photography as a service because there would be audience overlap under that circumstance.

      Hope that was helpful.

  11. We are developing a website, based on “Planning”; planning which can be related to many if not all aspects in a persons day to day life.
    How do we organize the content?

    • Vijay, that’s a broad question. What’s the objective of the website? You said it’s about “planning one’s day.” What’s the underlying objective? Why will the site exist? Will you be wanting to build a list or sell a product? What’s the end game? Without fully understanding your objectives, it’s difficult to say what the best organizational strategy should be.

  12. I’m am a 11th grade high-school student designing a website that offers new and used school supplies, to my fellow classmates and teachers, free of charge only with an appreciation value per product to help cover future purchases.

    I think for the most part I have the layout and overall design completed with minor touch ups to be made here and there.
    I was also planning on adding an extension to the page that would offer non school related products such as chocolate (hence the misleading name), other sweets, or services and such.

    I am still new at coding and I’m learning as I go and coming up with new ideas daily. But I was hoping for a second opinion and any advice or ideas about layout and design that can be given. Any help would be very much appreciated.

    • Hi Nicholas,

      I think it’s great that you are learning how to code and build a website from scratch. That’s admirable, especially with the popularity of WordPress and other website platforms that provide the structure out of the box without needing to do any coding. So good for you. I’m sure you will learn a lot from this project.

      You asked me for advice about layout and design. The first thing I would do is get rid of the popup on your home page. It’s not necessary and it feels spammy. When a visitor arrives on your home page, you don’t want them to be greeted with that popup. It will stop them in their tracks.

      Your home page should give an overview of what you are offering. That’s why it’s important to have a large, clear headline. Your headline should describe what the site is about in about 5 seconds. I should be able to read your headline and have a decent picture of what I can expect from the site. “Your Free Scholarly Needs” is a bit ambiguous. That could mean any number of things. If you want some examples of good headlines, see my portfolio.

      You are also using a lot of valuable, “above the fold” real estate for the logo, which is too big. That’s where you want your headline to be, front and center.

      White text on dark background is rough on the eyes. Generally speaking, dark text on a white background is more readable.

      Main nav should help tell the story. You should not have to say below “Just check the stock tab. For more information.” Instead of “Stock” use easy to understand language. Like, “Free School Supplies” or something along those lines.

      Stick to conventions when you can. There are some things that don’t need be reinvented. For example, your home button in your nav should not be in the center, it should on the left. Although we do sometimes see logos in the center, more often they are much smaller and positioned in the upper left corner.

      I think this is a good first start, but you have a lot to learn. One of my favorite books that opened my eyes to conversion focused web design was a great book called “Convert” by Ben Hunt.

      I do hope you find my ramblings useful.

  13. Question:I have a business directory website to develop very soon and need some help concerning what structure to use.

    The website will be similar to the below:
    www. freeindex .co .uk

    Please can you tell what structure was used here.
    Thanks

    • That’s kind of broad question. I think you can gain some insight by looking at their categories. By clicking the link under the search bar at the top of the page, where it says, “You can also Browse by Category, Location & A-Z.”

  14. I am trying to assist a friend overseas with how to approach making his Front Page website responsive.

    I’ve managed to exactly reproduce 3 of his FP webpages in Bootstrap 4, as he has developed this non-profit website over the last 10 years or so, and is reluctant to change any web pages appearance.
    .
    He has some 3000 photos in 2 or 3 different “image” folders and is not computer literate, but feel he needs a responsive site. Some information on his site contains priceless memories contributed by WW2 survivors and a lot of research, so I feel it is worthwhile an effort to make it more SEO attractive and contemporary with modern code.

    It would appear logical to me to organize his photos by web page – and he has 200 web pages developed. Would you agree with this idea?

    If there was an easy way to convert his Front Page to something responsive that would be the way to go, but I can’t find anything that would be guaranteed to work. Do you know of anything that might work?

    We’re both elderly, but I have managed to learn enough coding to at least handle the front end side and would need to learn a way to provide him with a minimal Web Content Management System.

    • Hi George,

      Apologies for the late reply. The “holidaze” wiped me out. I’m just catching up. I would agree that your friend’s website absolutely should be mobile responsive. While I think it’s admirable that you have delved into learning to code, I do think you may be making more work for yourself than necessary.

      My recommendation would be to move the website over to the WordPress content management system. Self host it. Don’t use WordPress.com. Using WordPress would enable you to have a membership site and easily create a paywall and accept credit card payments, etc. You would need to use a variety of paid plugins, but everything you need could be easily accomplished.

      Organization of photos depends on how the content is laid out. Yes I would agree, it makes sense to display images alongside your content for visual interest and context. Perhaps it would make sense in some instances to have a slide show on certain pages. Regardless, you will want to be sure to optimize all images with title tags, alt tags and captions whenever possible. This will help your images to be found via search engines.

      Converting his existing pages could be easily done. Although, it looks quite dated. Not sure why you wouldn’t want to modernize it? I would use WordPress with The Beaver Builder page builder plugin.

      One tedious task you will have ahead of you is to make sure to apply 301 redirects to all of the old pages on the website so that they redirect to the new pages. This is a critical step to insuring that you do not loose the benefit of links pointing towards your site pages and that you do not have dead links in Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

      I also provide high quality hosting, maintenance, consulting and support. All of my hosting clients have access to a slew of premium plugins that you would not have to pay for. Contact me via my contact form if feel like this might be helpful to you. I’m sure I could save you a lot of aggravation. Good luck with your project.

  15. Jordan,

    As a digital agency, my team knows that individual pages for each service is the way to go. However, when it comes to telling the client this, and then the associated costs of building out all those pages – they say thanks, but no thanks.

    Any tips for this upsell? How do I make it very clear & real to them that the extra money is well worth it?

    • Chris,

      In my experience, you have a couple of options. Option one: Ff you’re dealing with a prospect over the phone, you have to do a really good job of explaining why you need individual service pages …

      BUT the better approach option two, is to attract the right kinds of prospects. An educated prospect can make your life easier because you don’t need to “sell them” on an idea that they already are onboard with. The trick is, how do you get clients like that? You need to “attract them” and educate them while you sleep. You do that through your blog content just as I’m doing here. Your blog content attracts prospective customers at whatever stage they are at (beginning to advanced). Different content for different types of visitors. That’s how you do it man. It’s a long game for sure, but it pays off.

      Your customers will tell you what they need to learn. Think about how many times you’ve tried to explain the same thing to a prospect. What if you send them an article after you get off the phone with them? Make it a kick-ass article. Educate them through a video or an email series, etc. Teach them! They may even begin to trust you and contact you when they are educated enough to know that what you were trying to explain/sell to them is something they need. Hope that helps.

  16. Dear Jordan !

    Thanks lot for detailed information about website content. I am developing a site in word press. my site is based on Yoga, Ayurveda. I would like to publish content on Yoga, Ayurveda, Healthy Diet topics. I would also like to sell ayurvedic products and train people online.

    Please suggest what kind of menu and landing pages i should create.

    Thank you

    • Hey Keshav,

      You are entering into a competitive space. The recipe would be the same as outlined in this article. You should have sales pages for the individual services you offer. You can read more about landing pages/service pages in this article. I would imagine any of the those main services, whether it be a type of yoga or Ayurvedic counseling/ training that you are offering will be very hard to rank for.

      You’re short term strategy would be to use PPC/Facebook ads and Google Local to drive traffic. BUT your long term strategy and probably the only way you can hope to drive traffic to your site would be to create really informative articles (blog posts), videos, guest posts on other sites, partnerships, etc.

      You need to think laterally in your approach and write articles that address the problems faced by your target market, where your service may be the solution. E.g., if you Ayurvedic dietary counseling can be a solution for, say prostate issues in men, then you might create a series of very specific content around this topic in hopes of attracting prospects that might seek you out for counseling based on your authoritative content on this subject matter.

      This is a long-game. You would need to work hard and this will take some time. Expect to give yourself at least 12 months before you even see any kind of results. This is especially true if you have a new domain and a new site with no inbound links. AND you will need to have some really kick-ass content to expect any results. Hope that gives you some direction.

  17. I’m a beginner and I’m trying to figure out how to set up my pages. It’s a motherhood blogging website and I’m telling newer and older stories, or memoirs of you will. My question is how do I set up the pages that have longer articles or articles that aren’t relevant for me anymore (pregnancy…Haven’t been pregnant in years). Is it ok to have people visit pages that aren’t going to be active, where I’ve told a story or my experience and left it at that? How do I then tie in my daily posts, do I just make it very clear what each page is for or is there a better system? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Ashely,

      All of your articles (old and new) should be posted on your blog. It doesn’t matter if they are no longer relevant to you no because they may very well be relevant to someone else. For this reason, you will want to make sure that you pay good attention to your blog post headlines and title tags, so that your articles can be found via search. You might want to do some reading on how to write good headlines and how to optimize your posts. I have always found copyblogger to be a great resource. That’s the site that helped me a lot in the beginning. Yoast.com is another resource, more for optimization.

      As for pages being “active,” you really don’t know which articles will drive traffic and which ones won’t. It’s not uncommon for a singular blog post to outperform all other pages and drive the most traffic to a website. You also need to get clear on what the purpose of your website is? Why does it exist? Do you have any goals? What do you hope your visitors will do once they arrive on your site? Where are you taking them? Do you want them to subscribe to your email list, buy a product, hire you for something, etc? If none of this matters to you, then you can just do whatever you want. The only caveat to shooting from the hip like that is that no one besides you may ever see it your site, but that may not matter to you. Hope that’s helpful.

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