Have you ever visited a website for the first time and after about a minute of exploring it, you go back to the search engine and look at other results because the first site was such a mess?
Does your site lose traffic because it is such a mess?
Have you thought about redesigning your site to make it more user-friendly and visually pleasing?
Your website is much like a store.
If a shopper enters a store with intent to find a particular item, and everything is unorganized to the point that even a sales associate cannot help, the shopper will leave.
Stores and websites both need structured organization, or information architecture (IA).
In order for search engines to find your website and make it accessible to users, organized information architecture is critical.
A website must exhibit a clear and appealing global navigation that is organized in such a way that new users have no difficulty finding what they are looking for. Essentially, the website should not only be easy to use, but also easy to navigate. It is crucial that users are able to find what they are searching for on your site.
In an age where instant gratification is highly valued and expected, it is vital that your website is built in such a way that offers users exactly what they need upon arrival.
Therefore, organize your global navigation so that your top pages, services and products are available within one click. Don’t make potential consumers dig through and explore every page of your site before landing on the one they were actually looking for.
A website’s information architecture can be likened to the layout of a store and organization of its products. Much like a structured store will place priority products on displays and in windows, a website’s content should be organized by priority.
Don’t you want it to be easy for people to buy your products and services?
A sitemap acts as the directory of a website; it lists all of the pages of the site and is available for both users and search engine crawlers.
There are two types of sitemaps: HTML and XML.
- HTML sitemaps help users navigate a website by itemizing all of the site’s pages and providing internal links to each page. It greatly enhances navigation and accessibility.
- XML sitemaps are designed to help search engines crawl and index the pages of a site. Unlike HTML sitemaps, XML sitemaps also provide instructions regarding which pages should receive priority regarding crawling frequency.
Server Response Codes
When a user attempts to navigate to a site, a web server returns an HTTP code that signals the status of the site.
The most common response codes include:
- 200 OK – The request has succeeded, and the site is shown properly.
- 301 Moved Permanently – The page has been directed to a new URL.
- 302 Found – The page is temporarily assigned to a different URL.
- 403 – The user does not have authority to access to the site.
- 404 Not Found – The server cannot find the page.
- 503 Service Unavailable – The user’s server does not have the capability to make the request at that time. This could be due to server overload, maintenance, or a crash.
Let’s go back to the store example.
Imagine you have found a pair of shoes you fancy, but the ones on display are not your size, so you request that a salesperson find your size. Like a web server searching for pages, she goes to the back to retrieve the shoes and a number of things can happen:
- She found your size and brings them to you (200 OK response code)
- The shoes are no longer at that location and have moved (301 Moved Permanently response code)
- The salesperson cannot find your shoes, although they are supposedly in stock (404 Not Found response code)
Internal Linking & Anchor Text
An internal link is another way to organize your site.
An internal link is a link placed on a website that directs to another page on the same site. SEO best practice calls for the destination page to be relevant to the content being linked from. This is good for user experience because it allows visitors easy access to additional relevant information your site offers. It is also good for SEO because it helps reduce bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who visit only one page per session) and allows link equity to flow throughout the site.
Organized information architecture helps your site retain users, increase clicks, spread brand awareness, and ultimately, sell products.