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

    A great article, Shari, that should be required reading for SEOs, IA/UX pros and – especially – any individuals responsible for website planning or production.

    I couldn’t agree more that technical architecture is secondary to information architecture, both for a visitor’s experience and for the site’s search visibility. A robust IA more-or-less ensures that technical SEO issues like crawlability and canonicalization will be addressed in the development phase. The opposite, alas, is not the case, where technical decisions made too early can impede the ability of information architects to construct a sensibly-organized, search-friendly site – bringing to mind the old adage of the shape of the bricks determining the shape of the house.

  • http://www.logicping.co.il Shay

    Great article, I totally agree that many SEO people don’t understand the importance of the content and deal with many and the difference between the way site should be build and the point of that sites was built for human use and not SE engines only.

    I really enjoy your writing thank you very much.

    Shay Garini

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

    Thanks, guys.

    I am very saddened that search-engine friendly design has been interpreted as technology-centered design…and search engine optimizers continually propagate this misinterpretation.

    Likewise, I am continually stunned by the confusion between technical architecture and information architecture…and search engine optimizers continue to propagate this misinformation as well. All of these SEO guides to information architecture are really technical architecture guides. Not a single information architect has authored these types of articles.

    As a Web developer, I understand the role technology should play in websites and in SEO. It’s a shame other Web developers and technical SEOs are threatened by the knowledge and expertise of non-technical specialists. They shouldn’t feel threatened. They should embrace that knowledge. It will make them better developers…and better SEOs.

    My 2 cents.

  • http://www.cyber-key.com m_j_taylor

    I have to say, it surprises me to see so few comments on such an important article. I grow a little weary of link builders calling themselves SEOs, never mind professionals who do have a genuine, general grasp of this field, but don’t understand that IA and usability is the basis of a well optimized site. Yes, great incoming links can overcome almost any paucity of content or organization, but it doesn’t teach website owners how to present information in a way that meets the users’ needs – and leads to the most conversions.

  • http://www.aldissandmore.com/ Tim Aldiss

    I agreed with the argument that the structure of content (and therefore the architecture that it sat within) was so much more important than SEO that I did a spell as a knowledge manager to get to grips with better information organisation.

    However I am disappointed with the lack of speed at which the digital community has focused on the organisation of knowledge through innovation, tools & platforms and moved back into SEO as it’s a more exciting and cutting edge industry.

    That’s not to put down the various tools that have appeared in the field, but innovations like Richard Wurman’s LATCH theory (Location, Alphabet, Time, Category, Hierarchy) need to be realised and created (by information architects) to enhance platforms like Delicious, and eventually end up improving faceted navigation.

    I just wanted to finish by saying that I believe that faceted navigation is actually a great SEO tool, but it’s impact is misunderstood and under-implemented by SEO’s which is probably doing the industry no favours.

  • http://www.barryadams.co.uk/ Barry Adams

    Great article Shari. While technical site design is important to ensure proper indexation, when it comes to semantic relevance good IA is absolutely essential. The best SEOs find the right balance between the two.

  • http://hauntingthunder.wordpress.com/ Maurice Walshe

    Hmm if I had a pound for every duplicate pages cased by faceted navigation I found on just a single one the sites I have looked at in the last year I could buy a house!

    Just because the IA has been done doesn’t I am afraid in most cases mean that a SEO will be called in (and development time made available) to make sure that the site is not going to shoot its self in the foot.

    Don’t forget from a business perspective (and a search engine and seo ) ideally they want to land the end user directly on the most appropriate page – ideally the end user should not have to use the on site navigation at all.

    Obviously you have to have the ability to browse if the end user isn’t sure what they are looking for say browsing Jobs in an area.

  • http://www.brandfluent-digital.co.uk B.D.

    Great Post Shari, i cannot tell you the amount of companies and consultants that I have spoken with that constantly work towards the technical aspect of a site. I admit that having the architecture / functionality of the site adhering to guidelines is a must and very important in SEO. More and more companies are missing the fundamental part, making sure that the sites contextual and keyword relevance is implemented and worked with first.

  • http://www.internationalwebsitebuilders.com Terry Van Horne

    Shari, excellent article… but quite frankly it comes down to too many people calling themselves SEO’s don’t know HTML or even the the basics of web development. Findability on the website is crucial to conversion so finability just for SE’s is a job half done. SEO’s have forgot people buy things and do things that benefit a site financially a SE doesn’t buy or do anything that actually puts money in the pockets of owners … it just gets the user to the site… again a job half done if the site doesn’t faciliateate finding stuff when you get there