A website increases its Google ranking through SEO or search engine optimization, and SEO improves how a website "looks" to algorithms and driving organic traffic. It shares certain goals with information architecture, or the process of enhancing usability on a website. IA and SEO must both make a website accessible in complementary ways. IA must help web users be efficient in accomplishing why they came to the site. Meanwhile, SEO helps users find the site in the first place, or choose it over similar ones.
SEO and IA reduce bounce rate or the percentage of visitors who leave after viewing one page. Improving both also encourages algorithms to reward you with sitelinks. These are the most visited pages on your website, and they appear with the target URL that comes up in a search. Sitelinks increase your reputation and help people trust your brand.
IA and SEO share best practices. The things you need to do for IA to succeed are also valuable in SEO. Here are some IA techniques that can help the SEO for your website.
Generally speaking, there are three types of pages on a site. Pages can be for navigation, consumption, or interaction. Navigation pages point users to where they want or need to go on your site. Consumption pages are ones with blog posts and information on products or services. Finally, interaction pages get users to act on your CTAs. Sign up or check out pages fall under this category.
Each page on your website should be for one of these three. Review the content on your pages. Then, optimize it for either navigation, consumption, or interaction.
Don't add pages on your site without knowing why you're doing so. If you have a promotion, for example, you must choose between adding a new page for it or putting it on an existing one. Will your audience be more likely to check details on the promo if it is on a landing page? Or will they want to read more if they find the promo advertised on your homepage? Knowing your customers and their browsing habits helps you create pages with purpose.
To make your pages user-centric, they must match people's mental models. User research, card sorting, or tree testing helps gather information on how visitors browse. Invest in user research; it will produce insights for IA. These insights can help you organize content and see relationships among pages.
One way to create structure is by rethinking page priority. Make sure you're emphasizing the right ones. If you have an existing website, use Google Analytics to identify popular pages. Also, you can cross-link among pages that cover related topics. Doing this makes navigation easy for users and search engines alike. Finally, have an anchor text strategy. Links that say "learn more" or "click here" do not help users understand what's on the next page. Relating your anchor text with the landing page is better.
Each page on your site should be reachable in less than three clicks. Doing this "flattens" the site architecture and simplifies navigation. Search engines use site architecture to determine the priority pages in a domain. As such, if you have important information, don't bury it ten clicks away from the main page.
Also, ensure the use of redirects. Even organized websites experience disjointed flows of information once in a while. When you move content, you need to provide a smooth transition and avoid broken links. You can use a 301 redirect, which means the move is permanent, or a 302, for temporary ones.
Users need to understand why there is a link and where it leads. Do not put keywords in your anchor text without knowing how it can affect your rankings. If you will add keywords to anchor text, make sure it is necessary. Otherwise, search engines will read it as an attempt to raise the website's ranking. Provide content like help text and FAQs; these help users make decisions. If you have an e-commerce site, provide a section on product details. Doing this makes your page valuable to visitors. They will be likelier to spend the time it takes to search on actually reading the information.
Duplicated content can annoy your visitors and make them leave sooner than ideal. The more duplicated content you have, the likelier it is for search engines to rank you further down. Conduct a content inventory and identify areas that talk about the exact same thing. You must also analyze related content. If they are too similar, search engines could flag them as duplicates. If you have related content, combine them into one page. Create a site structure as well, to define the site's categories and hierarchies.
Writing is a vital part of the user experience. When you write in a clear, consistent voice, both new and regular visitors will find it easy to find what they need. UX writing and SEO rely on consistent terminologies and UI elements. Users on a restaurant website, for example, should find it easy to locate images of the menu. For this to happen, the images should have consistent labels and alt text.
Sitemap building is important in information architecture mapping. A sitemap makes your website more crawlable and it is vital in content-heavy sites. If you have dozens of pages, a sitemap helps search engines find information faster.
When creating a sitemap, decide the pages that you want search engines to crawl. Then, determine the canonical version for each. There are also different sitemap formats to choose from, and you can get a sitemap generator to do most of it for you. Make sure the sitemap is visible to search engines by adding it to your robots.txt file. Submitting it to the search engine console will do the same.
Good information architecture and optimized SEO need not go against each other. Optimizing your website for search engines helps people find it online, and IA keeps them on the page. If your page does not have the right structure, it will be hard for visitors to find the information they need. You don't want people leaving your website because they cannot find answers. When you use these IA best practices, you'll serve your customers better by giving them the data they need.
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