By Shari Thurow, Founder and SEO Director of Omni Marketing Interactive
Information Architecture & SEO
information architecture is the art and science of organizing and labeling website content to support usability and find ability. This is not technical architecture (301 redirects, canonical tags, robots.txt,meta.)
Why should we care about IA?
- lost customers
- brand value – even if your site is # 1, if they can’t find the information they’re looking for they go to the next link in the results and they don’t go back to your site, even if you fix it, because they don’t know you fixed it
- design and development costs – if you mess up the IA on launch, you have to start from scratch on a redesign. Use wireframes. You should never code a web site unless you’ve done wireframes or prototypes. It’s too expensive to go back and redo it.
- minimize duplicate content delivery
- reduce maintenance – what is your archiving plan? Where are you going to put new content?
- website findability – information architecture communicates ‘aboutness’ both to search engines and searchers.
Architecture should precede development and design
duplicate content affects indexation. Google absolutely loves good information architecture. What’s good for the user is good for the search engine. Good information architecture results in related site links, which gives you 30% more visibility, resulting in more click throughs
The building blocks of SEO
- Keyword focused text – does the content contain words and phrases that the steal hers type into search queries. You have to give the users what they expect to find.
- architecture and design – site and page architecture provides ueser friendly access to content for both searchers and search engines.nyu don’t want technology’s centered design
- link development – number and quality of third party links
- searcher behaviors – navigational query, informational query, transactional query. Search engines are accommodating user roles. If the query is navigational, you will see related site links. If you we Wikipedia, the query is most likely informational. When there is transactional intent, the results will change, showing videos, pictures, shopping results, etc.
Understanding Information Architecture
- categorization: how content is placed in categories or taxonomies. SEO is very helpful with taxonomy, but don’t use keyword research tools to build your taxonomy. Nobody searches for information or browses based on date. For your blog, use categories first, and dates second.
- target audience: your navigation should be architected based on your target audience
- organize content by type
How do you determine content groups? Get user feedback. Field interviews, observation, usability tests and then keyword research. you want to know why and how, not just the how.
Web thesaurus compendium
Keyword research tools should be used for labeling, not categorization. Headings, subheadings, related content, etc. embedded text links are also labels. You must categorize your content in a way that makes sense to your audience, in addition to archiving by date. Blog titles and headings are also important. The heading is more important than the title for news search.
You need a combination of vertical and horizontal links on your blog, because home page links disappear. When it’s appropriate, create author page.
Navigation labels should be unique, distinguishable, scannable, and understandable.
Good test for navigation labels. Print out the page and have users circle what they think is clickable and then do it again and have them circle what is not clickable.
Minesweeping is moving the mouse over the page to see what’s clickable. Bad usability. The only people who navigate this way are developers and children.
Make sure the labels are clear to your audience. No acronyms or clever harasses that people have to figure out.
Prioritization – people don’t like too few links because they feel they lose control, but they don’t like too many links because it’s too much effort. BOOK: Principle of Choices
No set number of links, but be aware
User generated content – have someone on staff who is trained in SEO and copy writing to go over UGC. Show what a good review is. Show what a bad review is. Provide supporting materials. Show examples in the FAQs. Call out and reward good reviewers. Monitor contributions for spam and inappropriate content. Nofollow all external links in UGC.
- information architecture should not be considered after a site is built.
- site architecture = information architecture + technical architecture
- information architecture should help guide technical architecture
- base your information architecture on the user’s mental model
- don’t use keyword research tools for IA
- link to content via formal navigation and supplemental navigation
- plan ahead
- test, test, test
Book : information architecture for the world wide web, ambient findability, search patterns, pervasive information architecture, designing web navigation