Information architecture, sitemaps, internal and external links: a website needs more than just a pretty layout. Find more about search engine optimized content in the blog.
Why is SEO important?
Search Engine Optimization helps the computers to understand what the writer wants to communicate. Although machines started to become increasingly sophisticated, they still interpret a website differently than humans do.
The goal is to set actions which list your content in the first positions of the organic search engine ranking. To do so, you have to look at the following aspects of a website.
Information architecture (IA) combines context, content and users. It is about organizing the content and flow of a website. The goal of IA is to balance the user’s desires with the business’ needs. To check if your IA is fine, you need to think about the following four questions:
- Am I in the right place?
- Do they have what I am looking for?
- Do they have anything better (if this isn’t what I want)?
- What do I do now?
Navigational links are used to enhance the search rankings of the website as well as the user friendliness. The higher the rank the more people will find the website. Visitors convert into leads and later to customers. Therefore, the structure of your navigation has to be well chosen based on the following aspects.
1) Be descriptive
Search engines love to have descriptive labels. Since the navigation is visible on every page, Google estimates that this page is really of interest to you. The links need to have descriptive labels so that the user immediately can see what the topic is up to. To check the popularity of the keywords you can use the Google Keyword Tool.
2) Avoid format-based navigation
Users come to a website to get information and the answer to topics they are looking for. They are not interested in the format of an information but the content. Therefore, avoid using format-based navigation.
3) Avoid drop down menus
In regards of search engines, drop down menus might lead to a problem while crawling. Depending on the software development, they may not be found well by the search engines. Users also find drop down menus annoying. The users eye moves faster than their mouse. When people move their mouse they’ve likely already decided to click on an item.
4) Limit the number of action items to seven
The short-term memory only allows to remember seven menu items. The more there are, the more difficult is it for the user to remember and process them. Regarding search engines, the fewer menu items are on the page, the more authority will flow to the interior pages and help them to get higher ranked. A simple tool to check the number of links on the website is Link Juice Calculator.
Search engines like Google use internal links to find out which pages are related to each other and how valuable the content is. Internal links can create a hierarchy between the pages. Google understands the relevance of pages, the relationship between them and the value of the pages.
Internal links show which articles are most informative and valuable. Google and the users will understand the structure of the website better. This leads to an increase in your ranking. Therefore, evaluate and improve your internal links frequently. Broken links are a waste of link power and poor user experience. You can check broken links with tools like brokenlinkcheck.com.
External links are links from your website to another external webpage. With external links, you show that you have gained a lot of information about a topic and that you really know what you are talking about. Your credibility increases and with it new business relationships can emerge. External links are highly common in blogs and help them to increase the target group.
Getting external links is one of the most valuable SEO factors. It is difficult to manipulate them and therefore there are seen as trustworthy. Furthermore, the more external links, the easier is it to identify the popularity of the webpage. To check your internal and external links you can use tools from seorreviewtools.com.
Sitemaps are a list of URLs of the webpage. They help the users and search engines to easily navigate between various levels. Using a sitemap ensures that the search engine knows about the existence of an URL. Ideally the sitemap shows not only the URLs but even the hierarchy between them.
An XML sitemap is based on a standardized format which enables search engines to crawl easier on the webpages. Find more information on the standards on www.sitemaps.org/de/.
The advantage of a sitemap is that the indices of the webpage are generated faster. Most of the modern Content-Management-Systems (CMS) already have a function to build sitemaps easily. I highly recommend using these and handing them in via webmaster tools to the search engines.
You can easily generate an XMLsitemap with XML sitemap Generator. XML sitemaps enable you to quickly and easily notify search engines about all the pages in your website and any changes. This ensures they are indexed quickly and correctly, especially with new websites which have lower natural discoverability.
RSS Feeds are used to get a notification if something is updated on a specific website. Visitors use this technology to constantly get an information if there is for example a new blog post or news on their preferred webpage. RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format which ensures your privacy, because you do not have to subscribe for every newsletter to get informed about a page.
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