Welcome back to Search Engine Academy’s regular Wednesday posting on Infrastructure Architecture (IA) and search engine optimization (SEO). If you’re not sure what IA is, here’s the skinny in my previous posts. If you’d like to read them first, they’ll open in a new window. Come on back when you’re caught up, and join us in the continuing discussion about IA and SEO, and how they’re critical for your website performance.
We’re going to dive into the next major system that comprises IA – labeling systems.
We use labels to represent information on our sites. Labels show the reader what’s on each web page. Since we can’t – or shouldn’t – try to fit our entire business information on one page, accurately labeling the pages on websites quickly allows the web visitor to decide which pages she wants to read.
Labels should communicate information fast and effectively, but be short. “Contact Us” is a good label that we automatically understand will tell us how to contact the business. Unfortunately, since we label constantly in our spoken language and other communication methods, we take it for granted, and this can lead to poor labeling on websites.
Labeling fits in with the other IA systems because it shows the reader your site’s navigation and organization systems. One web page can contain dozens of labels, and they can each highlight a different organization or navigation system that leads to other pages.
A site map is one example of how labels are quickly represented in one spot. You can browse the site map and see how many pages a web site has, and what those pages contain. This helps you figure out where to start on a site to discover the information you need.
Why is Labeling So Important?
When we’re talking face to face, we also rely on visual cues from the other speaker to help us understand her mood and response to the conversation. However, when we are having a dialogue – as such – via our web sites, there’s no way to “see” the mood.
Labels need to be presented in the same language the target audience expects to find on web site. If you’re a licensed pilot and are perusing aviation- themed websites, you expect to see highly jargonistic, insider language that’s unique to the aviation community.
So, look through some of your favorite websites, or even your own, and ask yourself this: Do the labels on a web page appear clear to you? Do they catch your attention? Is there a label you see that doesn’t make sense immediately?
We instinctively understand many generic labels, because we’ve been web surfers for a number of years now:
But what about labels like these:
- Products & Services
What does “main” refer to? A main page as opposed to the home page? And suppose the site you’re searching or browsing has multiple services and products that are very different from one another? What is meant by corporate? The company or corporate headquarters?
Now you’re beginning to see how something that is obvious to you may utterly perplex your target reader. We want labels to be representative and if appropriate, emphasize differences that could be important to the web reader. Jargonistic or vague labels work if the target audience is thoroughly grounded in them repeatedly; otherwise, a new prospect won’t know to think.
How Good Labels Keep Readers On Your Web Site
Suppose you sell vitamin products and supplements. If you haven’t carefully researched and applied a comprehensive label system, people are going to give up on your site at a certain point and abandon it. This means you’ll lose a lot of sales! Remember, there are millions of websites; it’s doubtful that your site is the only out there on your given business solution or subject, so the more you can clearly show the customer how to navigate with easy to understand labels, the better your conversion rate will be.
Your labeling system creates an impression on your web visitor, and you want that impression to be as positive as possible. A good labeling system will boost your visitor’s time on site, the number of pages she visits and decrease your bounce rate.
Let’s start tying this into SEO now. You can use keywords for your labeling system, if they’re short enough. However, you can use synonyms as well, if they fit your labeling system. And you can review your web analytics program to see which pages are getting more traffic than others. If you’ve developed funnels or review navigation paths, these are other SEO processes that can improve your IA efforts.
We’ll stop here and continue this discussion about IA labeling systems next week. Meanwhile, why not review your labeling system for your pages and see if you can make some changes and measure your conversion rate? And if you want to do your own SEO on your sites or your clients’ sites, Search Engine Academy can train and certify you in SEO in five days or less.
Until next week,