Design An SEO-Friendly Website Architecture

Lauren Polinsky, Director of Search Analytics, MGM Resorts International
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Lauren Polinsky, Director of Search Analytics, MGM Resorts International

Lauren Polinsky, Director of Search Analytics, MGM Resorts International

In order to be as visible as possible in organic search results, users and search engines have to get to your content. In order to get them to the site, and then through the site, it’s important to have an SEO-friendly site architecture. Organizing the website into groups of concepts that are aligned to the customer journey sets a solid foundation for digital marketing teams’ growth.

What do the people want?

There are a number of ways digital marketers can find out what words searchers are using o get to their content as well as discover how competitive that concept is in various markets.

Using the search engines’ tools it’s possible to do a lot of research for most websites. Starting with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, digital marketers can find a lot of information about the specific phrases searchers use when they click through to the website. Google Search Console will also allow marketers to extract data by device, country, page or query. For most enterprise sites, this data needs to be downloaded by category. Inside Search Console, use Page filters to narrow down by a common category URL path. Using the page filter will help keep your queries topical making the next step faster.

 

Using these queries one can map them out to find related and common concepts. Mind mapping is a visual way of presenting related information and their connectivity in a tree-style format. For example, The Fountains of Bellagio are a thing to see at Bellagio in Las Vegas. But once we organize the queries within the topic we find there are a number of more detailed questions guests have about the Fountains. Some of those have further nested topics in order dive deeper into concepts. Each of these represents a content opportunity for the brand to assist the customer through her journey. Using a visual design for the architecture facilitates conversation amongst designers, web developers, and marketers while ideating new site content. Finally, using dotted lines to represent links to similar concepts in other categories to generate an internal linking strategy built for the users and crawlable by search engines.
 
How do you impact & measure ROI quickly?
 
Before any website redesign or transition that requires an update to the site architecture, all KPIs should be defined and tracked. Some major KPIs that executives have their eyes on, for revenue or leads perhaps, but other micro-conversions happen that are often missed by website teams. The sum of the “micro-moments” throughout a user’s journey with the brand need to be highlighted and measured in order to show the immediate impact of a redesign. Some micro-moments include data around site engagement signals like pages per visit, time watched for videos, and bounces. Marketers and search engines should keep track of these metrics to understand the impact of the transition as well as the specific value each of their content pieces has. Ultimately winning in these micro-moments are essential to sustained organic channel performance.
 
   Since micro-moments are happening all the time, the data populates quickly for internal review and to inform website strategies  
 
Micro-moments are essential for showing teams the immediate impact while marketing teams wait for the slower organic search data to trickle in. But, since a redesign of the architecture impacts every marketing team, using performance data from other channels can also help identify the immediate impact the change has made on visitors. If the team is tracking metrics before and after the update, it’s possible to show gains in other channels due to the redesign, like improved quality scores, increased reach due to more remarketing opportunities, as well as revenue from the channel.
 
Digital marketers will want to focus on the change in micro-moments before and after a redesign as well as compared to previous years, if that data is available. Having both sets of data will highlight if there was a positive or negative impact of the redesign as well if the change has helped the site overall. And, since micro-moments are happening all the time, the data populates quickly for internal review and to inform website strategies.

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