• http://www.seoskeptic.com/ Aaron Bradley

    Great post. However, I disagree with that “information architects tend to focus on browsing behaviors, whereas SEO professionals tend to focus only on querying behaviors” and the related issues of categorization, taxonomy and ontology.

    Google, especially, loves hierarchically organized semantic data. In my numerous forays into IA for SEO I, in fact, content organization is perhaps my most important task. A well-organized site with class items properly categorized provides the absolute best internal linking structure for the search engines. Such a site will not only perform well for both short and long tail queries, but will appear with indented results in the SERPs.

    And, depending on the site – as you say – the dual user needs of surfing and searching need to equal attention. But for organic SEO focusing on browsing behavior is actually the key to ranking success, as internal search is usually not indexed (and, in fact, can cause numerous SEO headaches if indexing of preset search queries is not throttled or strictly controlled, because those queries compete with hopefully better-structured category pages).

    Or perhaps I’m an one of those exceptions as “information architect and SEO professional.” I certainly seem more interested in usability and, increasingly, the semantic web than some of my counterparts – but I do believe that many SEOs, particularly those working at the enterprise level, are increasingly figuring out how a holistic approach to IA benefits their search efforts.

  • http://www.search-usability.com/ Shari Thurow

    Hi all-

    Information architects, at least the most knowledgeable ones, understand the main finding behaviors and user mental models. SEOs are still far too focused on their mental models. Information architects are far, far more objective.

    Parameter handling? Understand it is important from an SEO perspective. But the determination of information architecture occurs long before the conversation of parameter handling. And duplicate content. And construction.

    I would still advise almost everyone looking to re-architect their sites to NOT hire an SEO firm, even if the sales “spin doctoring” sounds impressive.

    I have seen what the SEO industry’s interpretation of website usability is (pretty abysmal). Now I am observing the SEO industry’s interpretation of information architecture…and, unfortunately, I see it going down the same path. It’s a great sales pitch, knowing SEO and IA.

    But honestly? Most SEOs do not have the skills, training, education, experience, etc. to call themselves information architects. But they will never admit this characteristic in themselves. And they will bash anyone who challenges their skills. And a #1 Google position does not “prove” that your site is architected well.