Happy Wednesday to you all out there in the SEO world! Search Engine Academy continues it’s exploration of Information Architecture (IA) and search engine optimization (SEO) for you, the dedicated reader, so you may understand how to create and upload a user-friendly, very navigable site for your target market. Let’s jump right to it, shall we?

We are getting deep into the specific processes and methods for implementing IA and SEO into your website, and we are going to discuss stakeholder interviews now.

There are multiple stakeholders in the organization or business who can give perspectives on what should be included in the website to increase user participation and conversions.

Ask these worthies what their role is in the organization, and how they see the site as an advantage over their competition. Explaining what IA is, how it interfaces with SEO and why it’s better for the site can win you converts to the cause, as long as you don’t get too technical about the whole mess.

Get their thoughts on how they use the site, and if they think it’s useful and easy to navigate. You might be surprised at the answers coming from the insiders. What are their top priorities for what the site should communicate?

Remember the old saying about how we have two ears and one mouth, and they should be used in that proportion? If you can sit down, ask questions, then stop talking and act like you have all the time in the world, you will learn very useful things.

Next, you want to assess the current state of the IT infrastructure. Perform a gap analysis to see what’s in place, how it’s working, if there are opportunities to do upgrades. Talk to the IT folks and dig deep to get the big picture. If you have grand plans for incorporating IA, but the reality for IT can’t support it due to budget, now is the time to learn this and adjust your IA requirements. Sorry! Reality bites, doesn’t it?

Now, continue with your content inventory. This means all kinds of content, including that behind the firewall and content that may not be indexable. You need to know what’s important, does it have current meta data and is it even still applicable?

At some point, you will want to conduct a heuristic evaluation. What is this? It’s a critique or test of a website against formal or informal guidelines. Get an outsider to come in and do this. It’ll uncover problems and allow for opportunities for improvement to be recommended. What are some of the components of a heuristic evaluation?

  • How many ways to find information – ideally, you should be able to find the most important content in a multitude of ways.
  • Sitemaps – these are great for supplementing labeling and navigation.
  • Consistent navigation – does it provide the web reader with the right context?
  • Language – the language on the web pages should be targeted for the audience you’re trying to convert.
  • Search and browse – do they work together, or are they completely at odds with one another?

It’s going to cost you some money to do this, but it’s worth the time and effort to get it done. We never see our sites as others do, and it’s how they view it and use it that really counts.

Let’s stop here for today. I have a sleeping cat on my lap, and it’s damned hard to type with him looking so cute and interfering with good keyboard posture. Until next time, think about if implementing IA with SEO is right for your site, and how you can accomplish it. And as always, keep it between the ditches!

All the best to you,