Put very simply, information architecture in SEO refers to the way you group together and organize your website content to make your website more successful. It follows some basic guidelines and uses a lot of common sense. Information architecture is meant to ensure that you create a useful resource while also meeting personal goals for your website.
Information architecture could be considered the logic behind how you organize the content, links, and navigation of your website to help the users. In turn, the users will help you to achieve your online business goals.
Why Information Architecture is Important in SEO
Why do it? A business’ website can offer an amazing opportunity. The possibility for exponential growth depends almost completely on the content you offer and the way you present it. If you carefully plan and execute your website’s information architecture, you will consider:
- The purpose of the website
- How to measure success
- Immediate and long-term goals
- The content you need to launch the website
- The content you will need after launching
You can break down the basics of information architecture into just four simple steps to follow.
Step 1: Clearly Define Your Goals
There might be many things you want to do with your website, but it makes sense to define one goal above all others. It might be to make a sale, capture a lead, or engage a discussion. Whatever this goal is, it will drive the basic architecture of the website.
Ideally, you’ll want to make it possible for a user to take this action in a scroll and a click from wherever they are. Keep that in mind: a scroll and a click to convert, no matter where you are on the site.
Once you have the main goal of the site defined, it often helps to create a subset of related goals. For example, your main goal might be to capture leads and a smaller goal would be to inform people about your products. Another smaller goal might be to offer resources to help users better understand your niche, engage users in meaningful blog discussions, promote your affiliations, or whatever you feel is important to you, your business, and your website.
To build a workable set of smaller goals, think of immediate goals and also think long-term. This allows an action plan to develop with lots of milestones and keeps you focused on driving to the top.
By clearly defining the main goal and articulating a series of smaller goals for the website you create direction. From direction comes inspiration, action, and execution. Once you articulate the goals of your website it is no longer an ambiguous thing – it is a defined challenge for which you can develop a logical game plan, measure your results, and seek ways to refine and improve your direction.
Step 2: Identify Your Potential Site Visitors
Consider who might visit your website, and what they would be seeking in doing so. How would they find you? What are they seeking?
You need to have a pretty solid understanding of your audience before you can begin to connect. The deeper you understand them, the stronger your connection can be. This is the whole basis of any growth hacking strategy.
The point of doing it at this stage is so you know better how to serve up your content intuitively. You want to make it easy for everybody to find what they want, even when they come in wanting totally different things from your website.
It might help you to list the users out, and then identify what they would be seeking from a visit. There are some basic things to remember about most users:
- Very limited attention span – get to the point, or they will bounce to a site that does.
- Keep your voice consistent. Choose a tone for your messaging and stick with it.
- Be natural, and display what makes your voice trustworthy, approachable, and unique. This way a user can identify a connection to your website more wholly. While you may alienate some users, those that do trust your voice will be the ones you want: evangelists for your brand.
- Limit the options. For most websites, limiting the number of navigational links (in the main nav or the subnav) helps to focus and drive the users. If you have many navigational choices, you might consider a different way to frame the content to limit the number of links. Too many options and many users tend to not choose any of them—they become an intimidating blur. Don’t think of using fewer options as limiting the user, you are focusing on them.
- Your website is for the users, so cater to them. If it becomes a decision between what you want and what is best for the users, you should opt for them 99% of the time. Refer to analytics and tracking so you can rely on data and avoid guesswork. Research. See what works, and filter-out what doesn’t. Make sure you have an objective outlook and trust the numbers. This is often going to require a business decision, no matter how personal it feels.
Step 3: Consider Your Content Groupings
Once you understand more about your potential users, you have a better understanding of what content they would want to see. List out the big bucket types of content you will have (who we are, FAQs, etc.) and this will tend to become your main navigation. It will also give you insight into how to best arrange, or group together your different types of content.
For example, if you have some case studies and testimonials, these types of content tend to go hand-in-hand. Make it easy to get from one to the other, or perhaps look at how they can both be rolled up into a larger content bucket, like “Success Stories.”
Or, you might have 6 pages with details regarding your business, so it might make sense to have one “About Us” link that has fly-out sub-navigation options. This would make the website look cleaner while still keeping related content close together and logically grouped.
Ultimately, this aspect can be guided almost completely by common sense, at least in the earlier stages of development.
If you are struggling with this step, you can start with these pages as a minimum: About Us, Products/Services, FAQs, Contact Us, Get Started. This is what is commonly referred to as a “brochure” website meaning that it is like an online brochure of your company. If you add a form to the Get Started page, it becomes an interactive brochure that has the potential to reach (and convert) a much larger audience than the best-printed collateral ever could.
Step 4: Consider Usability
You should now have a good idea of your website’s goal, your potential users, and your larger intentions for the content you’d like to offer to encourage conversions. If you haven’t yet, now is a good time to think specifically about the usability of a website.
From an information architecture standpoint, usability refers to how the layout of your pages (content and images), your navigational options, and any other method the user employs to find each piece of content (e.g., in-text links, sub-navigation, pop-up windows, attachments, etc.).
How do your pieces of content fit into your goal of user conversion? Do the links and content take them closer to the goal or pull them further from it?
In essence, this step is a culmination of the previous 3 – by understanding your users’ needs and intentions and filtering them through your own goals, you can look at the shortest and cleanest possible route to bring them together.
Remember always, that your users’ needs come first – because if you fail here, the website typically fails.
However, if you answer a targeted user’s need with a usable, logical presentation of relevant content, your site will almost surely find success.
Now that we’ve covered how to set up a website and conceptualize the contents, take a look at how to we approach content writing here at Qodewire to help fill your website.