Good day to you, fellow SEOers! Search Engine Academy continues to bring you Information Architecture (IA) and search engine optimization (SEO) for better website content organization, navigation and search functionality.

In the past, I’ve shown you how to set up and implement the four major IA systems:


Let’s now turn our attention to some deeper IA concepts. These next few posts will talk about metadata, controlled vocabularies and thesauri.

Each of the four systems can be found on almost any web page. If there’s one missing, it would be the site search box function, because if your site is not huge and still lends itself well to browsing, then you won’t have that system. Yet. But if you believe in applying the recommendations and guidelines from Google, you try to add new content and pages regularly, so it may well be that you’ll add that system at some point time. But I’m digressing, so let’s get back to metadata, vocabularies and thesauri functions.

The concepts of controlled vocabularies, metadata and thesauri may be new to you, so let’s define them first.


It can be described as “data about data.” That’s still a little vague, isn’t it? It’s also been defined as data that gives information about other data in an application. Metadata can describe context, data quality, data condition and other characteristics.

Still with me? Here is what we call metadata for our web pages and sites: these are information tags that have descriptions or information about web documents, pages, video, images, audio files, etc. to improve navigation and web page retrieval.

You have the keyword, title and description meta tags, for example. They look like this when you pull up the source code for a web page:

<title>Search Engine Academy Washington DC | SEO Training In DC, Maryland, VA – Choosing Careers | SEO Is Growing | Get Started Now</title>
<meta NAME=”Keywords” Content=”choosing careers”>
<meta NAME=”Description” Content=”Choosing careers is a challenge, but SEO is growing. Get in the ground floor by getting your SEO certification from Search Engine Academy Washington DC.”>

The meta data is describing a web page that’s about choosing SEO as a career.

Large, sophisticated websites use metadata for content management system software. By creating and implementing controlled vocabularies, authorshipo and navigation can be made much better.

Controlled Vocabularies

A controlled vocabulary is set of natural language words and terms. It can be a list of preferred keywords and terms. You can also develop and implement synonym rings, which plays right into natural language processing (NLP) and Google’s recommendations for SEO to use variations or synonyms of your chosen keyword phrase for an optimized web page.

If you create hierarchical relationships between your keyword phrases, you’ve developed a classification scheme. If you find associations and relationships between concepts of keywords, that’s a thesaurus.

Using the excellent reference “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web,” eyeball this diagram to illustrate the point:

Controlled Vocabularies Relationship From “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web.”

This is a good place to stop for today. Next, we’ll cover synonym rings and other great stuff about IA and SEO. In the meantime, think about compiling a list of words, phrases and concepts for your controlled vocabulary and thesaurus.

Keep it between the ditches, all the best to you,