SEOs who are looking to improve the optimization of the websites they are working can do so through the implementation and practice of Information Architecture (IA) in three easy steps.
2. Mental Model
3. Taxonomy and Ontology
However, not all SEOs really know what IA is. Nor do they realize that it can be fairly easy to put into practice by following a few simple guidelines.
This article aims to highlight three easy steps to improve the IA of a website. It is hoped that the straight-forward nature of this article makes for a simple and useful introduction to the topic.
Any really effective SEO will take a look at a website’s navigating keywords and labels, particularly those found on the home page of a website. However, very few do so. They spend a great deal of time working on meta keywords, content keywords and other linking work, but tend to forget about those keywords that are used by the internet user to navigate the site.
For example, many websites, managed by SEOs who ignore navigating keywords, tend to be sites that make use of generic labeling such as “about” or “services” or “contact,” for example.
One of the easiest ways for an SEO to improve the navigational IA of a website is to add a keyword to each link label. For example, with a generic label like “services,” a skilled SEO might think about adding linking labels that break down each of the services offered on the website. These specific services might well include, “accounting,” “advice,” or “discounts,” for example.
The “mental model” asks the SEO to really consider the audience; to consider who the internet user is that is going to be utilizing the website. Without a true knowledge of the internet user, an SEO is never going to be able to optimize the website to the maximum.
An understanding of people is required by all SEOs and there are various ways in which an SEO can learn to analyze and preempt the type of internet user that is most likely to visit the site. In fact, this is such a crucial area of SEO and IA that Webrageous Studios has provided an even more detailed article on the subject of the “mental model” set apart from this article. We recommend that you read this article too.
Taxonomy and Ontology
A third a final area of IA that all SEOs should be taking advantage of is known as Taxonomy and Ontology.
Much of the work that an SEO does is related to navigational layout and category development. Taxonomy is basically the classification of categories and Ontology is the relationships between those classifications.
In simple terms this translates to:
Taxonomy (or categorization): Dance
Ontology (sub-category): Ballet
Ontology (related terms): Modern Ballet, Classical Ballet
The problem is that as any website grows, the relationships between categories and sub-categories can begin to overlap. Therefore, unless the IA of that website has been worked out by the SEO previously, the invisible mapping of that website might begin to look like a complete and utter mess.
Before a site can offer the internet user impeccable navigational ease, the relationships and links between categories must be established and organized. In the same way, an understanding of internet user behavior needs to be researched as well. These categories and classifications should be preempted through the application of the “mental model” so that they will make sense for that particular website’s audience.
Taxonomy and Ontology helps to improve the IA of a website and as a natural continuation, therefore, also helps search engines to link directly to the pages that are the most popular.
In short, the job of an SEO goes much, much deeper than simply including a few meta keywords here and there. Indeed, meta keywords are only the beginning of what is an incredibly technical, yet also intuitive job.