One of my favourite subjects is portal architecture from an SEO perspective. While a lot of SEO’s and webmasters will concentrate on the top level of a website structure – there should be a consideration for the lower levels. It makes perfect sense to put your most important services at the top then drill down. This can be a little difficult when you are optimising a portal that has important information that may be buried deep due to the folder architecture. A while back we were asked to consult on a project that had this very problem – the company that owned the portal were very reluctant to redevelop because of the cost and effort involved. They were willing however to restructuring the content.
Our idea was a simple one and creates pathways from each folder hierarchy to the bottom; this was done by redeveloping the navigation to be easier for the end-user and be easy to crawl by a search-engine-spider. We followed a method similar to the now old Music 3W project.
- Content specific folders
- Each folder with its own hierarchy specific to the content of that folder
- Drill down to less important material
- Well structured navigation that takes a user easily to ‘lower content’
- Simple styled HTML navigation (easily crawled by ‘bots’)
- Detailed sitemaps (in this case four sitemaps) with descriptive links to lower content.
- Internal linking by strict relevancy – introducing a visitor to new or ‘other’ content by proxy.
- Rotating monthly category box on the home page that introduced other areas of content.
- Insertion of unique content articles into specific folders.
I am pleased to say that in both projects the above method has worked really well. Though we fell a little short with ‘breadcrumb trails’ we overcame this by introducing several individual navigation systems depending on the size of the folder.
I still think a little refinement and some additions to this would not hurt. The above would be of interest to e-commerce portals as well – there seems to be a common complaint about not getting visitors to products or spiders to index deeper product pages.