Website Architecture – 5 Easy Steps to Great IA the SEO Way

I have blathered about keyword research a lot in previous posts, SO I’m going to use this post to illustrate how keyword research can help you to effectively develop your website information architecture (IA).

 

  • Yes, branding is important.
  • Yes, your users are more important, and the usability and logical structure of your site is vital.
  • Yes, you may have legal issues to consider.
  • No, those do not pose a problem as you begin to develop you IA – though they might in the refinement stages.

 

First, let’s settle on a business type… say our ‘client’ is an online gift shop (www.UniqueGifts4YouOnline.com – not taken as of posting according to GoDaddy)

 

Starting with Wordtracker, let’s see what we get – I’m not pulling all the data for this illustration for somewhat obvious reasons J:

 

Keyword

WT Searches

Graduation gifts

11,991

Holiday gifts

7,158

Gifts

4,517

Gift cards

3,935

Gift baskets

3,166

Unique baby gifts

2,056

Visa gift cards

1,965

Gifts for dads to be

1,816

Gift ideas

1,772

Newborn gift idea

1,593

Unique gift children

1,588

Unique gift idea

1,586

Baby shower gift

1,579

Birthday gift

1,576

Gift registry

1,502

Gift store

1,405

Homemade gift ideas for boyfriend

1,300

Starbucks gift card

1,059

Graduation gift ideas

1,028

Business gift

999

Birthday gifts

988

American express gift cards

900

Anniversary gifts

884

Last minute gift ideas

874

Last minute valentine gifts

789

Personalized gifts

747

 

Now, in practice we would conduct a whole lot more research for the first phase, and we would run the search through one or two other keyword research tools to check data and see what we missed. Let’s assume we did, and it stayed the same (never gonna happen… but for the purposes of this post)…

 

(Some) Insights so far:

  1. People are searching for graduation gifts nearly 70% more often than any other type of gift. Perhaps targeting ‘graduation’ terms in PPC with carefully worded adcopy due to likely impressions would be prudent. Also, assuming the client sells ‘graduation’ gifts, maybe an initiative to include a digital transferable voucher for graduation gifts to all online purchasers might be worth considering.
  2. ‘Unique’ and ‘last minute’ seem to be cropping up a few times
  3. There is a mix of searches on the singular and plural versions of the word ‘gift’. Is the client brand consciously concerned to the extent that they will want to maintain a uniform (i.e. all singular or all plural terms) approach to content presentation in the navigation and throughout the site? Find out now. We’ll assume not for the purpose of this illustration.
  4. ‘Gift registry’ is searched for a lot. If the client doesn’t offer a gift registry service, perhaps they should investigate it.

 

Phase 2: Begin to form your IA outline. For example (I color coded the folder depths);

 

1*Home (Gift Store)

 

1*Gifts

Ø Graduation Gifts

Ø Holiday Gifts

Ø Gift Cards

·         Visa Gift Cards

·         Starbucks Gift Card

·         American Express Gift Cards

Ø Unique Gifts

·         Unique Baby Gifts

·         Unique Gift Children

·         Unique Gift Idea

Ø Birthday Gift

Ø Anniversary Gifts

Ø Personalized Gifts

Ø Business Gift

Ø Baby Shower Gift

·         Gifts for dad’s to be

 

1*Gift ideas

Ø Newborn Gift Idea

Ø Graduation Gift Ideas

Ø Last Minute Gift Ideas

 

1*Gift Registry

 

Phase 3: Refine and maximize usability based on SEO considerations

 

  • I reckon that it looks a mess – so let’s alphabetize it.
  • I also think that there is a whole lot of duplicate page possibilities, so we’ll cross link, and
  • There is significant opportunity for internal linking, so we’ll indicate to copy where they should be linking to another page within the body copy. We’ll also delve a little deeper into the primary phrases; I’ll choose ‘anniversary gifts’ and ‘personalized gifts’.

 

1*Home (Gift Store)

 

1*Gifts

Ø Anniversary Gifts [link to anniversary gift ideas]

·         50th Anniversary Gifts

·         Traditional Anniversary Gifts

·         Wedding Anniversary Gifts [link to 50th anniversary gifts]

Ø Baby Shower Gift

·         Gifts for dad’s to be

Ø Birthday Gift

Ø Business Gift

Ø Gift Cards

·         Visa Gift Cards

·         Starbucks Gift Card

·         American Express Gift Cards

Ø Graduation Gifts

·         Personalized Graduation Gifts

Ø Holiday Gifts

Ø Personalized Gifts

·         Homemade gift ideas for boyfriend

·         Personalized Baby Gift (cross link to same page listed under ‘Unique Baby Gifts’)

·         Personalized Graduation Gifts (cross link to same page listed under ‘Graduation Gifts’)

Ø Unique Gifts

·         Unique Anniversary Gifts (cross link Anniversary Gifts)

·         Unique Baby Gifts

§ Personalized Baby Gift (cross link)

·         Unique Gift Children

·         Unique Gift Idea

 

1*Gift ideas

Ø Anniversary Gift Ideas [link to Anniversary Gifts]

        ·        Homemade Anniversary Gift Ideas

Ø Graduation Gift Ideas [link to Graduation Gifts]

Ø Last Minute Gift Ideas

        ·       Gift Cards (cross link)

       ·        Homemade Anniversary Gift IdeasLast Minute Valentine Gifts [Link to both ‘Anniversary Gift’ and ‘Anniversary Gift Ideas’ pages]

Ø Newborn Gift Idea

        ·        Unique baby gifts (cross link)

 

1*Gift Registry

 

(Some) More Insights:

While ‘homemade gifts’ has a relatively low search volume at only 73 (WT searches) there are a lot of folks looking for homemade gifts for graduation, boyfriends and more. Options include expanding offering to include arts and crafts and idea books and materials, and maybe a separate primary navigation button to ‘Homemade Gifts’ – depends on clients brand and willingness to expand product offering.

 

I also don’t like the term ‘unique gift children’ [1,558 WT]. Nearest term is not much better and with a count of [2 WT]. This is where, if you haven’t (which is bad, very bad), you would check against another keyword research tool. If the keyword research tools simply don’t make a usable term, change it with a stop word if possible. If not, tell the client your recommendations. I think that ‘for‘ might be a stop word; therefore I might offer the alternative of ‘unique gift for children’. I realise that is not grammatically correct, but the search volume on the term is enormous (as is the competition). This is a classic case of ‘will the user get it’? ‘be offended by it’? ‘misinterpret it’? And ‘can the brand handle it? I’m going to leave it as stands for this post.

 

Phase 4*: Check out the competition and other related sites and add other primary links

 

(*Assuming we have covered all bases, have conducted full keyword research, and cross linked and ‘internally linked’ for copy wherever possible)

 

Check out how many pages/sites are competing for the terms you are planning on targeting. If you are in this (gift) industry, you have some work to do with backlinking and establishing yourself via SMM and presence if you’re new… (maybe even if you’re old but haven’t harnessed the backlink capacity of the industry yet). Linking is not a one time thing. NOR is it the point of this post…

 

Maybe the client should consider photo albums? Linking up with Party Services? Selling invitations?

 

Perhaps presenting the gift categories as presented above by ‘Feeling’ (and with additional keyword research); as in:

 

  • Cheer Up Gifts
  • Get Better Soon Gifts
  • I Love You Gift
  • Thank You Gift

 

Or maybe by ‘Type’ (again with more Keyword research); as in:

 

  • Christian Gifts
  • Funny Gifts
  • Geeky Gifts
  • Trendy Gifts
  • Whacky Gifts

 

Perhaps an internal search facility is warranted?

 

Don’t forget the usuals. For example:

 

  • About Us
  • FAQ
  • Shipping & Handling
  • Returns Policy
  • Contact Us
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Privacy Policy
  • Blog (with RSS)
  • Sitemap
  • Etc…

 

 

Phase 5: Optimize Your Home Page

 

I realize that it may seem odd focusing on your home page last, it’s not really. Your home page will be optimized for your brand and your highest level keyphrases. Wait until you have your IA worked out, and then go back.

 

Two phrases picked out so far for the Home page are:

 

Keyword

WT Searches

Gifts

4,517

Gift store

1,405

 

‘Gifts’ is waaay to generic. ‘Gift Store’ is a little more on target.

 

Optimize for these two as well as including the term ‘unique’ (based on a quick review of only WT here):

 

So present the home page with initial suggested ‘Optimization Title Element’ when you present the IA. For example:

 

Home Page Title: Gifts Online from Your Unique Gift Store | UniqueGifts4YouOnline

 

And finally…

Expect back and forth with the client as they work through the final IA. As long as you have done due diligence, and you stand your ground and influence and educate like crazy, you’ve done your job. For example; why optimize for both ‘Graduation Gifts’ and ‘Graduation Gift Ideas’?:

 

  • Search query intent and search query language are usually relatively closely associated when it comes to people who are internet savvy; not so much with those who are not.
  • ‘Idea’ copy can be significantly different to ‘gift copy’ if you have a half decent copy writer.
  • Interlinking is not a crime.

 

Whatever you do, don’t start page level optimizations until you have their have their sign-off approval in your hot-sticky (and somewhat geeky) hands J. Then provide a list of related terms on a page by page basis for copy writers before you optimize as they need to be working on the copy as you finish the html elements. Work with them as closely as possible and be open to contact (all this assuming you are not a pro copy writer and thus ‘Person-Super-SEO’ who is an expert SEO, crap-hot copywriter and guru-coder deluxe).

 

And that, dear readers, is how keyword research can – and should in my perfect SEO world J – provide you with a darned hot website architecture foundation.


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