How Information Architecture Impacts SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Impact of Ecommerce Catalog Structure.”

Information architecture and search engine optimization are both critical aspects of developing an ecommerce site. During the process, early decisions made about the structure of a site and its product catalog can have surprising ramifications for SEO.

Which product types and attributes are assigned as categories, subcategories, and filters within the catalog impact much more than user experience. They also impact which pages the ecommerce platform will generate and how they’re interconnected in the navigation, both of which impact SEO.

Let’s use a hair care products site as an example. Say we’re selling shampoo, conditioner, and styling products for men, women, and children. Our products are tailored to normal, dry, oily, and chemically treated hair and offer an array of benefits like curl and shine. Two ways of organizing the product catalog begin with categorizing products by product type or by gender/age….

Read the article in full with helpful diagrams at Practical Ecommerce » “SEO: Impact of Ecommerce Catalog Structure.”

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Ecommerce Product Facets and Filters for SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: When Product Facets and Filters Fail.”

Ecommerce sites rely on filtered or faceted navigation to make their product catalogs more easily digestible for customers. Depending on how filters and facets are implemented, however, they can either be fantastic for search engine optimization or a big failure.

SEO is based on three pillars: crawler access, keyword relevance, and authority. Filters and facets affect the first two of these pillars, access and relevance. Depending on which platform is used and how it’s implemented, faceted navigation and filters can act as crawl barriers for search engines or produce tremendous amounts of duplicate content. That’s the access issue. If a search engine’s crawler can’t or doesn’t access certain pages on the site, those pages have no chance of being indexed, ranking or driving organic search traffic.

On the relevance front, pages created by filters and facets are often treated as subsets of the unfiltered page. As a result they aren’t allowed to display unique title tags, headings meta descriptions and other textual signals that would alert search engines to their unique content. Filtered and faceted pages may contain subsets of products that have high search value, but if the page isn’t allowed to display keyword signals targeting unique keywords, the page looks to a search engine nearly identical to the unfiltered page and all of its other filtered variants.

  • Example: When Facets and Filters Work for SEO
  • Example: When Facets and Filters Fail SEO
  • Comparing Crawler Access

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Optimizing Navigation for SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Putting Navigation to Work.”

Navigation does more than shuttling customers around your site. In addition to its obvious usability and design functions, navigation can be optimized to improve organic search traffic. Well-optimized navigation strengthens the flow of link popularity throughout your site while sending relevant keyword signals, both of which are important to driving organic search traffic and sales.

Think of the aggregate power of every link that comes into every page as the lifeblood of a site. Search engine optimization professionals like to call that lifeblood “link juice.” To keep the site healthy and able to rank for the most keyword phrases possible, that lifeblood link juice has to be distributed throughout the site to feed every page. Internal links like navigation are the system of arteries and vessels that pass the link juice throughout the site.

Link juice doesn’t spread evenly across a site. Most of the link juice for most sites comes into the home page as the default place to link to. Think of the home page as the heart: a big pooling of vital link juice. The farther away you get from the home page, the less link juice is passed on. Each page along the step keeps a share for itself and passes on a lesser amount. The pages at the end of the line end up with the smallest fraction.

When a page has earned links from other external sites it becomes another pool of link juice. In some cases a resource or tool your site offers can become an even stronger pool of link juice than the home page. Well-optimized navigation ensures that those pools of link juice share their strength with the rest of the site.

Read on to learn more about:

  • Optimizing Navigation Links
  • Optimizing Navigation Keywords
Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Putting Navigation to Work.”

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

The Overlap between SEO & Accessibility

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “Better Accessibility, Better SEO.”

Mention web accessibility and digital marketers tend to sigh, flashback to alt attributes on images and envision a small handful of vision-impaired people using screen readers. In reality, accessibility standards benefit nearly 12% of the U.S. population, from people with hearing and vision impairment to people with repetitive motion disorder, developmental disabilities or ADHD. And the growing population of senior citizens online represents another important reason for brands to embrace accessibility standards, with 53% of American adults age 65 and older using the Internet.

As an added benefit, what’s good for accessibility is also typically good for search engine optimization. The accessibility standards that focus on providing textual alternatives and navigational guidelines have the most overlap with SEO because the search engine crawlers that index the Internet for ranking are traditionally bound by similar restrictions as screen readers.

The most obvious example of overlap between accessibility and SEO is the need to provide textual alternatives for non-textual content such as images, audio and video. On the SEO front, alt attributes are not a very powerful keyword relevance signal, but they do have a small benefit. When combined with other SEO best practices, using relevant alt attributes that agree with the keyword signal on the page when it’s possible will give the page an extra boost. Following the following guidelines will enhance both web accessibility and the keyword signals that feed SEO….

Read the article in full at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.