Hello fellow SEO professionals out there! It’s Wednesday…it’s time for your weekly dose of Information Architecture (IA) and search engine optimization (SEO) with Search Engine Academy. We are continuing our journey on the finer details of content mapping your website during a heuristic evaluation.

Let’s pick up from last week, shall we? OK, here goes…

You do a heuristic evaluation that looks at the web site’s organization from the top down. On the other hand, content analysis or mapping is done from bottom up. Create a content map –  pictorial representation of the current information on your site. It should be fairly high level, because you just want to get an understanding of what’s on the site.

From the always-excellent IA reference I’ve been using throughout this entire post series, “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web,” (Morville/Rosenfeld), check out this typical representation of a content map:

Content Map for Information Architecture (IA) & SEO

You can do a few things with your content map:

  • Content ownership and publishing process
  • Visualize relationships between content categories
  • See the navigation between content areas

Whatever you decide to use it for, your goal for your content map is help you and your team see how your current content is organized, structured and located. By viewing what’s in use today, you can brainstorm ideas about how to make your content organization better for your web visitor, not you.

Next, we have benchmarking. All’s we are doing here is making a reference point to compare measurements or make judgements. We are methodically identifying, evaluating and comparing IA features of other web sites that are practicing good IA with their SEO efforts.

You can do qualitative or quantitative comparisons, depending upon your content. You can compare between different websites or different versions of the same website.

Competitive benchmarking is fine, but beware if you are seeing concepts and ideas that may be bad. Just because one way works for one of your competitors, it may not work for you, especially if you differ in your execution and presentation of your products and services. On the other hand, don’t let others bully you into using the competition’s methods, just because they may be bigger than you, and outrank you in the SERPs. Know what you are looking at, and looking for.

Using before and after benchmarking allows you to gauge web visitor’s reactions to your site through your analytics program. You can really tell this by several metrics:

  • Depth of visit
  • Length of visit
  • Funnels and channels

Before and after benchmarking is good for identifying and prioritizing information found on your site. It can really help you focus specifically on what’s good and bad. It’ll spawn lots of ideas and help you avoid copying mistakes or bad practices you see on your competition’s web sites.

To learn more about usability heuristics, which is really what we’ve been talking about here, visit Jakob Nielsen’s excellent article.

Let’s stop right here this week. I hope you have some things to think about for your own site. Can you establish benchmarking for your web pages now? Are you ready to make a content map that works for you?

Until next week, keep it between the ditches!

All the very best to you,