Creating a proper Information Architecture is essential for Search engine optimization and organic rankings. A good information architecture for websites will make sure that both your visitors and search engine bots can easily navigate it.
What is an Information Architecture?
Information Architecture helps in defining relationship between the different parts of your websites. This includes creating URL/navigation hierarchies and connecting them into a logical structure. IA generally includes-
• Navigation Structure, including your navigation menu
• Categorization of your products and services
• Content organization
• URL structure
SEO and Information Architecture
IA has a huge impact on your SEO efforts. A Good IA will help user and search engine easily find content which satisfies the search intent. IA also helps in funneling the user towards specific goal completion, which helps more revenue generation. A poorly designed Information Architecture for your website can lead to the following issues-
• Crawl and indexing issues due to poor Navigation and improper structuring of URL
• Wrong categorization of your products or content
• Duplicate pages and categories
• Poor distribution of page rank
• Wastage of your crawl budget
• Wrong webpages ranking for desired keywords
• Lower engagement and poor user experience.
Information Architecture Principles – Designing an IA
Search engine bots need a URL structure which they can easily crawl. Once a webpage is crawled, it is included in their index. A link structure is like a path which the the search engine spiders follows, picking up all the pages on its path. A clear and concise path allows all pages to be indexed.
The key information architecture principles for designing a great IA are to ask the following questions-
1. Defining and structuring information- What categories can you have on your website?
2. Labeling the information – what taxonomies would you use to name your categories?
3. Navigation Structure- How would users/bots navigate your website?
Steps in designing an Information Architecture
1. Define the core ideas/products that the website is to be built around. These will be central nodes on which the entire IA will be built.
2. Categorize all the products/services into meaningful hierarchies
3. Name the categories based on keyword research
4. Create final landing pages, with minimum click depth
5. Create supporting content – Supporting content is used for giving further relevant signals to Google. For Ecommerce sites, this will be inform blog content or articles
The optimal structure
In most cases, a the information architecture for websites should look similar to a pyramid. The homepage sits at the top, with minimum links to the main landing pages, which in turn link to less important pages deeper into the site. This structure helps in link equity or Link juice to flow through the entire site. The homepage generally has higher link equity then other pages, as considerable backlinks will point to your homepage. As such, pages which are directly linked to the homepage will receive more link juice.
If the homepage has too many links flowing out of tit, the link juice gets diluted. As such, it’s important to have minimal links on the homepage, linking out to only important webpages of your website. Because of this structure, pages which are higher up the pyramid (and closer to the home page) will have more chances of ranking then pages lower down the pyramid (or further away from the homepage).
Your main taxonomy will have a direct impact on your SEO as it will define your navigation structure, your URL structure, category labels etc. Most of the time, the IA will be built around your primary taxonomy. If you have more 1 competing ideas and taxonomies, you might have to split the IA into 2 subparts.
Once your primary taxonomy is defined, you can create supporting taxonomies. These will help in interlinking different sections of content and provide additional topical navigation.
Creating a proper Information Architecture is very important for better rankings and traffic as well as for user engagement.
If you want an Information Architecture developed for your website or need an Information Architecture audit, please contact me for a quote.