What Is Structural SEO & Why Is It So Useful For Marketplace Startups?

“Structural SEO” is a process of systematically structuring a website so that its pages rank well on Google for multiple keyword combinations naturally. Like the term “growth hack“, “structural SEO” has been applied widely yet didn’t have a name until someone coined the term.

“Structural SEO” is most commonly applied to growth online marketplaces.

A Structural SEO example

Consider Zapier.

They went from from 0 to 600K users in 3 years. So how did they do it?

They nailed structural SEO by creating many types of landing pages for the app they integrated:

  1. A Category page of similar apps: https://zapier.com/apps/categories/human-resources Ranking for keywords like “top HR apps & software”
  2. A dedicated landing page for the app itself: eg. https://zapier.com/apps/shopify/integrations Ranking for keywords like “top apps integration with Shopify”
  3. A dedicated landing page for each app to app integration: eg. https://zapier.com/apps/shopify/integrations/google-sheets Ranking for keywords like “Google Sheet integration with Shopify” or “Shopify Google Sheet integration”
  4. A dedicated landing page for each “trigger–> action” of each app to app integration: https://zapier.com/apps/google-sheets/integrations/shopify/2758/add-new-paid-shopify-orders-to-a-google-sheets-spreadsheet Ranking for keywords like “how to add new paid Shopify orders google sheets automatically”

By structuring their website like this, they get 237,000 app-related pages indexed by Google.

Zapier App related pages indexed by Google
Zapier App-related pages indexed by Google

Companies that have succeeded because of structural SEO

The tech startup world is filled with companies like these that owe their success to structural SEO.

  1. Houzz: Local SEO at scale
  2. Booking.com SEO Strategy Review
  3. Zapier: Long-tailed SEO at scale
  4. Crunchbase SEO Strategy Review
  5. SEO Strategy Review: TripAdvisor VS. Yelp
  6. Etsy SEO Strategy Review

The biggest challenge when implementing structural SEO

The single biggest hurdle to implementing structural SEO is getting support from the development team.

Actually “support” (or buy-in) is not enough. You’d need commitment.

Why? Because:

  • It takes a lot of effort for the dev. team to create filtered result pages’ static URLs, sitemaps, SEO-friendly individual listing templates, and built-in internal links.
  • It takes a lot of effort to balance SEO and good design.

If the product development team is not fully committed, it’s VERY hard to get structural SEO right.

Focus on on-site SEO if you’re at the early stages

The BEST way to build backlinks for early-stage startups is PR, which isn’t easy for most early stages. Therefore, I argue 80% of your SEO effort should focus on On-site SEO (including content strategy, internal links, sitemaps, structural SEO, and having main keywords in the right places) if you’re at early stages.

So early-stage startup founders should avoid spending too much time building backlinks because it’s typically very ineffective and inefficient.

Conclusion

Structural SEO is the process of organizing content on a website in a way that makes the pages rank well on Google for multiple keyword combinations. Online marketplaces often apply structural SEO to grow their traffic. By organizing content well, it makes it easier for Google to index URLs and find the most relevant information for the user. 

In order to effectively implement structural SEO, it’s important to get support from the product development team because the site design must work well with the structural SEO strategies. In the early stages of a startup, focus on on-site SEO strategies like using internal links, sitemaps, high-quality content, and integrating keywords in the right places. 

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