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Information Architecture 101 – Organize Your Website

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 9 years and 7 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

I am constantly amazed at how poorly websites are organized. So many sites could rank better if only they organized their content and internal link structure more effectively. There’s two things every site needs more of:

  • Content and
  • Links. In order to scale and benefit from the growth of content and links, a site needs to have an effective information architecture in place. This is why SEO is really project management. Search marketing boils down to some pretty simple concepts, but keeping your eyes on the prize with every little detail of your website is what seperates the top ranking sites from the nowheresville ones.

    Information architecture is essentially the organization of a site. The content must be organized in a way that is easy to learn and understand from a user’s perspective. The organization and layout of the site will determine how users find information on your site, and what they will perceive as most important. IA is important to both usability and SEO. In order to convey the correct message, the information architecture must be planned before a site ever reaches the development phase, or you are building your website house of cards on a foundation of sand.

    As simple as the concept of information architecture is, I think the importance is sometimes what falls on deaf ears. I generally try to start with a visual representation of information architecture and how it relates to search engine rankings. “Compartmentalizing” a site is key to establishing what the site is about. It is increasingly important if your site is about a wide variation of topics that are normally not associated with one another.

    So how do you approach your IA?

    Dean suggests starting with a bunch of “keyword cards” which I think is a fantastic idea. Being one to normally just use the PC, I would probably use the same idea with a text file and a spreadsheet for easier use later, but the same principles still apply. Create a giant “mind map” of all potential information and look at logical ways to organize it. There are lots of acceptable ways to accomplish this, but what is most important is that you determine a logical organization for your website content (and room for future content).

    IA will be greatly important to utilizing the value of your internal anchor text. By having your site categorized logically, it will add to the “semantic weight” of areas of your site. Having a sub navigation for each of the related areas of your site is going to be much more beneficial than having run of site navigation for only a few broad phrases or ALL of your phrases/ pages. While I am pretty unversed in semantics and their application to search, I do know that if you keep similar topics categorized in “compartments”, it can help your site quite a bit. Get your site in order and start organizing! You’ll be amazed by the benefits to both SEO and beyond.
    Top discussions and resources on information architecture

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    Irony – the #1 result for information architecture has a pretty unintuitive website interface in my opinion (though I’m sure they know plenty about other IA).

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