Next up, a talk from Shari Thurow on search engines and IA.
Thurow is starting with the basics of SEO. If you don’t do these 4 basic building blocks, you can forget it. Doing them makes your content easy to find — both on Google and your internal site search.
Thurow hates search engine spam. She turns people in regularly for it.
Why should IAs care about SEO? Because people search.
Thurow shows a couple of pages from a website — beautiful images — but no copy. Search engines can’t evaluate them.
Talks about a usability test on a site with a high-tech audience, with a huge Flash presentation at the top. It was the shortest usability test she ever did — the users hated the Flash so much they wouldn’t look at the site.
SEO is optimizing for people who use search engines.
SEO is not magic pixie dust.
Two great sites for SEO: Apple and Mayo Clinic.
SEO covers architecting, designing, writing, programming.
What search engine optimizers need to do:
- Need to label content
- Organize website content so it is easy to find
- Ensure search engines can access right content
- Ensure search engines can’t access undesirable content
4 Building Blocks of SEP
- Keywords: Text
- Architecture and design
- Link development
- Searcher goals
Most important text: Title tag, Most important [top] content, URL structure
The first two, keywords and architecture, are on-the-page and entirely within the site owner’s control.
The latter two are off-the-page criteria. In off-the-page criteria, quality trumps quantity. Who links to you matters more than how many you have.
Many SEOs don’t pay attention to searcher goals. Navigational [people want to go to a website], informational, transactional
For navigational, people rarely look past slots 1-2. When site links show up, something in the search indicated navigational intent.
Up to 80% of searches are informational. When Wikipedia shows up in results, something in the search demonstrated informational intent.
Least common type is transactional query. Here, people don’t always type in the words they expect to see on the page. [They don’t type, “watch” or “cart” when they want a video or to purchase something.]
Thurow shows this horrific result….when you search for
You get in Google what looks like the right page…but you go to the page, and there are no FAQs. Total fail.
Are you communicating to humans and technology the right information scent and aboutness of your content?
We know that content can be organized in multiple ways, but we have to determine how the target audience would organize it. SEOs think everything needs to be organized by topic. Keyword research tools shouldn’t be used to create architecture. But it is helpful to find out how people label things.
SEOs and IAs both work on labeling — are we using the right keywords on our labels? Are we properly indicating aboutness?
Prioritizing: Don’t put too many links/labels on the page, but definitely put them in the right order. Usability testing can help you figure this out.
Don’t put glossary content in a popup window — you’ve orphaned that really informative content to Google.
Information architecture decisions have a direct impact on SEO. Don’t wait til a site is ready for launch to bring in an SEO.
Most pages on a website should be treated as a point of entry. Do you give users enough context to figure out how to get where they need to go?
Some findability solutions can cause search engine problems — faceted classification, tagging and site search pages.
Thurow is an amusing and educational speaker. Great info.