In a Webmaster Hangout, Google’s John Mueller answered a question about a site that lacks a conventional site navigation. The site essentially has a flat site architecture in that it depends on the site map for URL discovery. There are no categories or folders.
A flat site structure is a website in which all pages are one click away from the home page. This strategy has existed for a long time.
Mueller’s answer touched on the importance of a meaningful site architecture as a powerful way to tell Google what your site is about.
Mueller stated that it was advisable to use a site architecture with meaningful categories (what Tabke refers to as directories).
Mueller said: “In general I’d be careful to avoid setting up a situation where normal website navigation doesn’t work. So we should be able to crawl from one URL to any other URL on your website just by following the links on the page.”
Mueller further expanded on that idea in an important way:
“If that’s not possible then we lose a lot of context. So if we’re only seeing these URLs through your sitemap file then we don’t really know how these URLs are related to each other and it makes it really hard for us to be able to understand how relevant is this piece of content in the context of your website. So that’s one thing to… watch out for.”
Mueller’s answer highlights the advantage of organising categories semantically. Using meaningful category names tells both site visitors and Google what the context and meaning is of the pages contained within.