When people think of SEO, they don’t often think of information architecture. And vice versa.
SEO is seen as more of a marketing activity, while information architecture is seen as a more technical aspect of site design. But in reality, they both share many of the same goals. Both can help more people find more of the information they need, which can enhance your marketing strategy and help you get more leads and sales.
Here’s a closer look at information architecture and SEO and how the two can go together:
Information architecture is a term that sounds more complicated than it is.
Information architecture simply refers to the way a site is organized. It includes the navigation, site map, page types and structure, how objects are place, the content organization, and more.
The goal of information architecture should make it easy for visitors to find what they want on your site, as well as to make it easy for search engines to crawl your site and properly index it.
Information architecture should also be designed so that customers can easily navigate your site no matter how they enter it, whether through the home page or a contact page.
IA and Search Ranking
One way that site architecture directly affects your search results ranking is in how far away it positions individual pages from the home page.
Ideally, no page should be more than two to three clicks from the home page. The longer it takes for a user to get to a page from the home page, the lower that page will appear in search results.
You should design your information architecture so that all pages can be found quickly from the home page. Some options for achieving this include designing a smart menu bar, placing a link to the blog archives on the side bar, and creating resource guides that are featured in the side bar.
You don’t have to be cheap with the internal links. Not only will they help you improve your site architecture, but they will also boost SEO on their own. Plenty of internal links are just as important to SEO as plenty of external links. Plus, your internal links can shorten the number of steps to find some older pages from the home page.
You can use tools like Power Mapper to determine how many clicks away each of your pages are. This will help you ensure that your most important pages are within a few clicks of the home page.
Poor IA and SEO
Having poor site architecture won’t just make it harder for visitors to find what they need – and increase your bounce rate – but it will also negatively affect your SEO and your search rankings.
With poor information architecture, you risk having:
- Duplicate content in search results
- A higher crawl budget
- A poor user experience, leading to lower performance indicators
- Reduced topical authority
- Low-quality internal linking
If people can’t find what they are looking for on your site because of poor information architecture, they are less likely to buy from you or to sign up for your email list.
Poor site architecture is also likely to result in a jumble of content, making it harder for search engines to crawl your site and rank you.
Some of the most common mistakes we see for information architecture include having inconsistent navigation, duplicate content, poor categorization, and bad internal linking. For example, some sites will produce separate URLs for the same page depending on how people navigated to the page. Some could include the category in the URL and some could include the blog archive directory instead.
With separate URLs, duplicate content is produced in search results, which brings down page authority and search ranking.
Tips for Success
There is plenty you can do to make your site architecture and your SEO work together to maximize your results.
First, you need to have a clear goal before you can begin your work. Knowing whether you want to provide information with your site or you want to drive sales will have a big influence on how you set up your site and pursue your SEO strategy.
Having a clear goal can also help you focus on the right performance indicators. For example, if you want to increase sales, you will set up your site architecture to keep pointing to sales pages and special offers. You will then focus on finished sales and visitors to those pages to determine if your strategy is successful.
Use your analytics to see how people are arriving on your site and how they are navigating it. You may identify areas for improvement with the data.
Don’t overlook mobile! Mobile users may navigate your site differently than desktop users. Make things easy for mobile users primarily since they will be your most important audience going forward.
SEO gets a lot of the glory in marketing circles, but site architecture is just as important. Make the two work together to reach your goals and maximize your results.