Information architecture is a critical part of a successful website design. A good information architecture allows the website visitor to navigate the website and access relevant information easily. Apart from helping website visitors, it also helps search engine algorithms understand the website content.
Most website owners are unaware that modern search engines such as Google and Bing give immense importance to usability and readability. These search engines want website owners to organize, label, and structure the website content to help users find information and complete tasks.
A well-organized site architecture ensures two things: first, it helps create a better user experience by enabling users to find the information they seek; secondly, it allows the search engines to index the given information easily.
Importance of Information Architecture from an SEO perspective
A few years ago, it was customary for people to use all the tricks in the bag to rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs). A typical website owner would painstakingly go through all the different SEO (search engine optimization) ranking factors to attract the search engine’s attention and rank for the given keywords.
While SEO factors are still as important as before, artificial intelligence has taken the ballgame to an entirely new level. In the past, putting the right amount of keywords and tweaking the webpage links would suffice; however, this is not the case anymore. Modern search engines have become more intelligent to the extent that they will most likely rank a webpage that has neatly organized information higher than another webpage that has less organized architecture.
Now, major search engines are starting to visualize the information just as humans do. It means that there is an ever-greater need to organize the website data without over-emphasizing the need to tick all the SEO factors. A good site structure will ensure long-term stable rankings of all the essential pages on a website if done right.
Designing the Information Architecture
Anyone can create an effective architecture by concentrating on the main elements of a website design. Here is a brief overview of the typical steps:
- Customer Research: Every design starts with keyword research because the content of your website should reflect its use and the behavior of its visitors. The web page, breadcrumbs, internal links, and content should enable searchers to move quickly from the main topic to subtopics if the website is informational. On the other hand, if the goal is to sell products, the product landing pages should be neatly categorized to deliver a seamless user experience.
- Review & Update the Content: The next step is to analyze the placement of the content. Review various elements such as page titles, headers, images, headings, URLs, canonical tags, and media files to see if everything is in the right place. If required, update the content by changing its location or removing it altogether. Don’t make unnecessary changes because it can often affect the performance of a webpage that is already performing well.
- Content Classification: After arranging the content, it’s time to classify and label the elements if you haven’t done so. For instance, it’s a good practice to give titles to images and provide relevant descriptions. It provides more information to the user, letting search engines display the item in the search results.
- Website Hierarchy: A good website hierarchy arranges the pages in a manner that is easy to navigate. You should build and link the internal pages in a hierarchical structure allowing users to drill down from the main topic to sub-topics through a series of menus. Without a meaningful content hierarchy, it can be difficult for a person to find relevant information. You can track these metrics with Google Analytics.
- Testing & Improvement: If you own a large website, it’s better to conduct usability testing. The usability testing lets website owners evaluate if the existing website structure makes sense. Depending on the website’s purpose, some owners may also do first-click testing, defining how the user gets around your website. Not every website needs comprehensive testing. If you have a small, easy-to-manage website, skip this part.
It’s important to understand that designing the site’s information architecture takes some time. Website owners, who don’t have the time to plan the structure, can get similar results by adopting the following guidelines:
Broad to Narrow Architecture
For optimal results, categorize the content from broader topics to narrower sub-topics, and don’t mix two separate subjects.
For instance, if you own a travel website that provides information on hotels in the Caribbean, it will be easier to navigate if a topic on the main page leads to neatly arranged subcategories. These sub-topics can include luxury resorts, all-inclusive resorts, three-star affordable resorts, etc.
Similarly, two different subjects should not mix. From our example’s perspective of a travel website, it’s better to distinguish and categorize resorts and hotels. Creating separate categories for resorts and hotels will allow users to understand the difference and find suitable accommodation that matches their unique requirements. You can strengthen this by adding Schema to your web pages to ensure crawlers understand your content.
Build Fresh Content & Link to EverGreen Pages
Google and other major search engines have become more competent at recognizing new and old content. A couple of years earlier, website owners were hesitant to publish fresh content around an old topic fearing that the search engine would mark it as duplicate content. Since then, things have changed a lot because Google can easily recognize fresh content and give it the recognition it deserves. Just make sure that the new information adds value to the old content.
For the sake of this discussion, let’s say that your webpage, “the 20 best luxury resorts in the Caribbean,” ranks high in the search engine. At a later stage, you want to build a new webpage on the topic. In this case, try improving the existing information. Once the new page is ready, link the page (using optimized anchor text) to the older page to pass along its PageRank. When done right, Google will recognize the value of the content strategy and rank the page accordingly.
Make Subpages Based on User Intent
New pages should be created based on user intent. If the parent topic is about luxury resorts, create subpages that reflect the central theme. For example, creating a page about the 20 best luxury resorts in the Caribbean under the “luxury resorts” section makes perfect sense. The structure will map out the buyer personas and allow users to navigate and find relevant information quickly.
However, a topic such as “affordable resorts in the Caribbean” will look off-topic under the theme of luxury resorts. Under the circumstance, it’s much better to create a separate article and put the page under that theme.
Experts also recommend combining two similar topics on a single page. Going back to the example, two separate topics with similar themes, such as the most affordable family resorts in Antigua and best low-budget family resorts in Antigua, should be combined. Since both these topics offer identical information that isn’t distinguishable; therefore, it is beneficial to keep only one page and remove the other.
Benefits of Information Architecture
Now that you have some idea of the information architecture, let’s look at the benefits you can get by implementing these techniques on your website:
- Improve SEO Rank: An intelligent content structure improves PageRank and your website’s crawl budget, ensuring that the content gets noticed by the search engine. The result is a potential high rank for all the pages on the website.
- Better User Experience: Websites visitors love websites that are nicely structured and easy to use. The more the visitors stay on a particular page, the lower the bounce rate and the better the page authority is in the eyes of search engines.
- Greater Revenue: An organized website lets you convert more website visitors to customers. Findability of information will ensure that customers convert early in the buying cycle.
Overall, there is nothing better than a nicely organized website that gets everyone’s attention, including that of the search engine’s indexing crawlers. Let there be no doubt that the future of the web is an architecture that models the way we naturally research and learn.
Published on: 2021-11-28
Updated on: 2022-01-07