Site Structure test

What does it do?

Analyse the structure of the website, particularly how far away pages are from the homepage.

Example results

Example site structure test results

Why is it important?

It has been shown that reducing the number of clicks required to complete a given task (such as purchasing a product) strongly increases the likelihood that task will be completed. This test evaluates how far away the majority of pages are from each other. If pages are too many clicks apart, it is less likely they will be reached. Some website structures force visitors down needlessly long paths, or drown users in a sea of immeasurable options – too many for them to appreciate and make informed decisions about.

How is it measured?

Sitebeam counts the minimum number of links required to travel from the first page it tests (presumably the homepage) to any other pages. Note that a link can include other means of traveling to a page, such as an automated redirection.

The score is based on how the average number of clicks to reach content in the site, from the homepage. The ideal average is 3 clicks – any more than this, and the score goes down. An additional small penalty is applied for the proportion of pages which are 4 or more clicks away from the homepage.

Technical explanation

During the spider, Sitebeam counts the minimum ‘depth’ of each page, i.e. the depth it was at when it was first encountered. Redirections (client and server-side redirections) count towards the total.

Potential problems

If the whole website was not tested, this report can give unrepresentative results (e.g. if only 100 pages were tested, and you have 500).

Pages appear to require too few clicks. If you have several starting URLs, they can overlap and there is no way to tell which takes precedence. Sitebeam assumes the quickest route in these cases.

Pages appear to require too many clicks. Most likely your website is using redirections to push the user around before they reach the desired page. These count as links to Sitebeam.

How to improve this score

Try to keep the majority of your content within 3 clicks of your homepage. This can be difficult if you already have a large, established website. Bear in mind there is little point in cheating, and simply adding a Sitemap to all pages. If users can’t access useful content within 3 clicks, they probably won’t bother continuing. Addressing this problem may be difficult, but it is important.

How to use this test effectively

This test can give you an at a glance overview of how well this website is structured, and how difficult navigation around the site is likely to be.

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