We’re glad you’re back reading about Information Architecture (IA) and search engine optimization (SEO) at the Search Engine Academy blog.
For the last several months, we’ve been going over IA and SEO. We started really basic, worked our way through the four systems that comprise IA, talked about meta data and controlled vocabularies and now we are walking you through IA implementation to support your SEO efforts.
So, we’re talking about the content on your website. Let’s begin with a content analysis.
You’ll want to analyze your content for a number of reasons:
- Make sure it’s still relevant
- Update it with the latest and greatest happenings
- Make sure it still matches your business’s vision and mission
And anything else you can think of…
Depending upon the number of pages you have on your site, you may do a content audit really fast, or it could be an epic and legendary process because there are thousands of documents, pages, videos, etc. However you do it, as you record your inventory, create a site map with the following information:
- Content title
- Content description
- Content location
- Content author, if applicable
How can you wrap your arms around this project? Try a high level approach first by starting with the type of content you have. You could have a list something like this:
- White papers
- Static web pages
- Image galleries
There’s no real wrong way to do this; it’s just whatever is going to work for you. Maybe you’re fortunate in that you have an intern who can be assigned to find what’s in these various buckets, or perhaps you are very lucky in that you’re part of a team, and the content types are divided up between team members. Or maybe not, and you’re stuck doing it alone.
At any rate, here are some other categories to consider when trying to herd all the content into one big, lumpy document:
- Document type – such as press releases, news articles, catalogs, forms, presentations
- Source – engineering, sales, marketing, tech support, customer service
- Subject – Location; services, products
- Existing structure or architecture – major links in global navigation, local navigation to interior landing pages
OK, if you have a certain content type – say a couple hundred white papers, just do a sampling right now. If you have only one, leave it off. Once you feel like you’ve captured everything, stop there.
Why do content analysis? For one thing, you get really familiar with the subject matter. I did a four month SEO support contract for a regional newspaper that attracts a very specific audience population, and by the time I waded through over 800 URLs, I had a really good knowledge base of what that target population likes to read about, and that was only going back about five years!
Make sure as you’re collecting content information that you capture relevant meta data, such as the title, executive summary, description, author, date of publishing, etc.
As you got through your content inventory/analysis, you may see patterns developing that others might have missed. You should keep notes on the fly, in case you see important hierarchical relationships coming together. You may not catch it the first time you do the inventory, but as you continue to gain familiarity with the documents, something may bubble up. Pay attention to it and if it makes sense to create a new hierarchy, go for it.
Mind you, this is not as exciting as flying a plane or drinking a really fine bottle of wine, but it will help you develop new navigation, labeling and searching systems, if that’s what you’re aiming for.
Let’s stop here for this week. Next, we’ll get into content mapping. In the meantime, start eyeballing your files and see if you have your content categorized that makes it easier for your web visitor to find and read. Until next time, keep it between the ditches!
All the best,