How To Organize Web Development Content
Its time to organize your products and services. Take question 1 and 2 from the last chapter from the “Internal Business” section. Remember you need to decide what are your primary services and what are your secondary ones. The primary services get top billing on your site. Your primary services may be the products with the best profit margins or they could be the services that lead to more sales in the long run. Take a look at the following site schematic outlining the site’s general architecture. This one is loosely based on a trailer manufacturer I worked with years ago.
As you can see, the Home page is denoted at the top and each additional web page, or product, flows down from it. A separate category is created for each major product offering, Utility Trailers, Gooseneck Trailers, Flatbed Trailers, Car Trailers, and Dump Trailers. Then additional pages are organized to support each major category.
So let’s pretend we are a search engine trying to understand this website. The search engine jumps on the site and sees each major category followed by a separate section supporting each major category. It’s not hard for the search engine to follow each page and recognize there is a lot of supportive material for each major category, which helps give it justification to push this site closer to the top page. While if the site were unorganized or had a mish mash of different products/services, it would be much harder for a search engine to make heads or tails of the site. So the rule is to clearly plan out each major category and then place the appropriate products and services within that main “umbrella” category. Each click deeper within the site should get to a more detailed page.
From a user perspective, the site is easy to navigate as well. If a person were looking for a car hauler, he could easily find it by clicking on “Car Trailers”, then Select the Car Trailer style of his choice, then click on a specific model.
So search engines are happy and the customer is happy. But there is more going on here that just organizing your products.
This client also doesn’t sell hardly any Golf Car Trailers so notice its the last item in the Car Trailers Section. Also Utility Trailers have more overall sales, so it’s more of a priority. Notice its the first menu item. By looking at the schematic, you can tell Utility Trailers is the most important for his purposes, followed by Gooseneck Trailers, Flatbed Trailers, etc. He also sells more standard Gooseneck Trailers than Gooseneck Car Trailers. This schematic is truly a priority list visualized.
But wait, notice that I said clear lines should be drawn to make it easy for search engines to categorize a website. We have a Gooseneck Trailers category, but Gooseneck trailers are also in the Car Trailers” category.
I added this intentionally to show that concessions will have to be made, but their impact minimized. In the case of this client, “Gooseneck Trailers” are a major category. Sometimes a customer wants a Gooseneck Car Trailer. The client was afraid if we didn’t put Gooseneck Car Trailers in the Gooseneck section, it may cost him business.
The concession was to overlap it when necessary. Notice that “Dump Trailers” have a gooseneck section as well, but its not listed into the Gooseneck Category. This is because the client clearly stated he knew that a person looking for a dump trailer would hardly ever start in the category of Gooseneck Trailers, so there was no need to overlap it based on his experience. This means the page focus for “Gooseneck Dump Trailers” will be used more supporting the Dump Trailer category. This emphasizes why your business experience is important to integrate into the plan.
Its okay to make these type of decisions. Concessions will have to be made because at certain points, what the shopper needs and what the search engine wants will vary a little.
There is one additional major factor in your site architecture. You should create it where your basic site structure should remain in tact as you add more products. Keep in mind, that the main top level pages (Utility Trailers, Gooseneck Trailers, Flatbed Trailers, and Car Trailers in the sample) and any content pages shouldn’t be moved around if at all possible. In the case of our trailer manufacturer, a potential bad mistake for him would be to create a new top level category “Trailers” and then place each subsequent item within in it.
By moving a page, you can hurt your overall site’s impact with search engines. Each web page, like a house has an address called a URL (www.mysite.com/mypage.html). When a search engine scans (crawl is the technical term) a website, they record each page and its “address” based upon its URL (for example www.mysite.com/mypage.html). When a page is moved, it’s “address” is also changed in most cases (www.mysite.com/newlocation/mypage.html). It will take time for search engines to figure it out. If other sites have linked to that particular page, those links will be impacted as well. In essence, there is much more involved than just the simple movement of a page to a new place.
Adding pages is fine and moving them is tolerable when it needs to be done and is carefully planned, but it shouldn’t ever be a cursory decision.
Think through your architecture and make sure the categories start more nebulous and move to more granular (or specific) pages. In the case of the trailer company, if he wanted to add a tri-axle gooseneck trailer product line, he could easily add it under the root category of Gooseneck Trailers without moving around pages already established.