I have been pretty obsessed with the topic of Information Environments as of late.
From their structure, to the way that we let them interact with the search engine bots, a full understanding of our Information Environments is the basis of a strong SEO approach. No matter what changes in search algorithms a strong Information Environment Design will help your usability as well as assist in classifying your data.
In a recent post, I broke down the basic website levels in terms of Information Environments from shallowest to deepest, Domain>Sections>Categories>Pages>Media.
There are several ways to help make the connection between these levels, and thus help classify the information held within. The most granular connection takes place on the link level, with anchor text passing classification. More advanced classification concepts include SEO Siloing.
One way to help classify your data is through the use of RSS. Most sites today use Really Simple Syndication to get their content out to readers and search engines alike. Fresh content is key to timely crawls, and RSS feeds play right into this basic SEO concept. However, most sites only have an RSS feed on the domain level of their Information Environment structure.
By taking RSS feeds and placing them at the Section and Category level you can help define the information on and below that level.
The Concept in Practice
Let’s say we have a site fantasy sports information and products, www.fantasysportsexample.com. (Tis the season!)
On this site we deliver Fantasy basketball, football, and baseball info. These become the Sections in our Information Environment Design.
Below these Sections, we deliver player news, stats, and feature articles. These will become our Categories.
By placing an RSS feed on the Categories of this site we can help classify all of the information found there and below.
Let’s take a look at the basic RSS XML structure
Basic RSS feed structures allow you to label a channel as well as each individual item.So for our site, www.fantasysportsexample.com , we will use the concept of SEO Siloing at the Section level. We will do this by creating mini-sitemaps that the user navigates to from the homepage that list links to each Sections’ Categories, as well as links to the other Sections. This will help define the categories.
At the Category level we will create our RSS feeds.
One for fantasy basketball player news, one for fantasy football player news, and so on and so on.
The RSS feeds will look like this:
When the search engines crawl this feed they will be able to link the pieces of content more effectively with the Category sections they belong to.Each channel is a Category, and each item is a Page within that Category.
We have now successfully made a link from Domain to Section to Category to Page on www.fantasysportsexample.com.
The last step is adding links with keyword rich anchor tags to your Page level that link to your Media, i.e. images and video.At this point we have completed the Information Environment Design for this site, and helped lay a quality foundation for our SEO efforts.
There is no magic pill in creating a well designed Information Environment.It is a process.It means having a quality navigation, combined with a strong strategy for tying together the various levels of information and data.
In the end, the concept of Information Environment Design should also be combined with search robot directives to deliver a clean and well defined website to the engines for indexing.
This strategy is also a quality design for information distribution from your site, and user retention.
These concepts are the foundations you should build upon with quality content, link building, and other techniques. They will help make your other optimization efforts more effective. They will lead to less headaches and more search traffic.