Having the technical and navigational foundations of your website properly optimized for the search engines is crucial in order to maximize search referral traffic. If done improperly, small details that may seem unimportant can negatively impact your rankings in the search engines and decrease your user experience. That's why it's so crucial to ensure that the technical and navigational factors of your website are optimized, but site architecture goes beyond just having an optimized homepage. This session promises to teach how to properly organize the content on your site, how to speed up your site, and how to assess and fix bloated code that may impact the user experience and the search rankings.

Shari Thurow, Founder and SEO Director, Omni Marketing Interactive

  • Defines site architecture as the organization of site content into groups - how web content is placed in categories and how content is organized, grouped and labelled.
  • Site navigation is only part of the interface; Information architecture is not crawlability, indexing, meta tags, etc.
  • Spoke extensively about taxonomy (practice and science of classification, arranged in a hierarchical structure) referred to it as "the backbone of the site" and reminds us that this crucial step should be done before any of the site is developed.
  • After developing the taxonomy and the structure of the website, then need to focus on both horizontal and vertical page interlinking.
  • Defines process of web design into 6 steps - taxonomy, formal navigation schemes, page interlinking, URL structures, code/program the changes, verify crawlability and indexation.

Jill Sampey, Director of Search Marketing, Blast Radius

  • Discussed how to understand if your site is performing it's best: look at search trends, search volumes, how users are interacting with the sites = need to dive into analytics!
  • Some warning signs to look at to see if your site is underperforming: steady or low traffic levels, new competitors, search query trends. Key point is to always take a look at ways to increase your traffic and provide better usability.
  • Need to ask yourself three questions: What your users need? How your users are searching? What the spiders need? Then need to combine these findings into the development of your website.

Naoise Osborne, SEO Team Lead, NVI

  • Need to have interaction between marketing, editorial, webmaster and SEO departments when developing sites, as many times information architecture hasn't been set up properly.
  • Described the process of indexability and link juice, and that YOU control which pages on your site get indexed, and which ones get link juice/link popularity.
  • Talked in great detail about link juice and indexation; reminded me VERY closely of the post I did the other week; at least we're on the same page 🙂

Jodi Showers, CTO, HomeStars

  • Talked extensively about HomeStars case study, and how they were able to drastically improve their site's performance and get more of their sites indexed by focusing on improving page load times. 95% of their 2 million pages are now getting indexed by Google.
  • Highly recommends checking out Alexa to find out about page load times. Faster load times = more indexing love.
  • Important to set goals and establish metrics before starting a project, take a "look forward" approach.

This session was pretty technical, and I felt that each speaker could've definitely expanded on their findings and provided more value if they had more time. To be honest, didn't take much away from this session but one tool a couple of the speakers mentioned was Xenu's Link Sleuth, which you can download here, that allows for automatic link checking, customizable analysis and reporting and many other advanced link checking and analysis features. I've heard of this tool before but will have to give it a try before I review it but definitely looks promising.