No One Cares About Your Corporate Org Chart
Rule #1 when developing your website content and structure:
Site visitors do not care about your company’s organizational hierarchy, a k a “org chart.”
You are not preaching or writing to the choir. Your website is not targeting your employees but your customers and prospects. Spend time getting to know your target audience, and write for them.
Get the following concepts under your belt before you plan out your site:
- Information Architecture (IA) deals with the organization of your website’s content, your major content categories and subcategories (from a content audit or card sorting). It should NOT be a reflection of your company’s internal structure or your intranet. Your IA should be organized around tasks your key site visitors are likely to perform, information they need.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as it relates to your IA, deals with creating content based off your key audience’s wants and desires. The foundation of SEO begins with intimately knowing your customers — how they think (from personas and search data) and what they want to do (task analysis). From there, structure your content to attract and engage them using their language (keyword phrases).
Common Information Architecture Mistake
Mistake #1 often occurs when a website IA is planned or redesigned as a mirror of how your company works. Such content typically focuses on how great you are with “we this” and “we that” statements. This messaging feeds the ego of your CEO and top management only.
Say “No!” to an IA site map that looks like your corporate org chart:
A surprising number of organizations ignore their users entirely and base their websites on an organizational perspective. The result is copy that contains internal language and jargon — terms and acronyms used only within the organization, or it’s filled with, marketing fluff and “we” statements.
Follow this common mistake, and your site will most likely rank well for terms like:
“We provide value”
Mistake #2: Using stock photography images that mean absolutely nothing about your vision. You don’t want to rank for non-meaningful images like:
Successful Information Architecture
Success Tactic #1 begins when you plan and organize your information architecture and content strategy around your website visitors.
Your visitors care about your value proposition and how your offering benefits THEM! They want value, features and benefits. The key things on their mind are:
“What’s in it for me?”
“How can they benefit me?”
Organize your content accordingly — to answer their questions and needs. Tell them what’s in it for them!
They have a goal and a purpose. Often, they want one of the following:
- To learn more about you, your products and services;
- What it would be like to work with or buy from you;
- What others think;
- Buy your product or enter into a contract for your services.
Your successful IA could look something like this:
Your site map is developed based on content analysis, persona research, search data, task analysis, and keyword phrases.
- Content is grouped and structured by page types.
- Target audiences for each page are identified.
- Content assets that meet audience needs and goals with associated tasks and calls to action are developed.
- Keyword phrases are mapped.
You may even rank for blended image search with photos that also stroke your CEO’s ego!
Successful information architecture is 180 degrees from the org chart approach. You move from a “we” to a “you” task-oriented approach. The structure and flow of your site will be designed to accommodate your prospects and customers. You’ll get more visits from the search engine results, more engagement in social media, and more conversions on your site.
Content & IA Resources
Put your content to the test and determine if you are talking too much about yourself. Test your “we we” score with Future Now’s We We Calculator.
Visit Usability.gov for a guide to planning and developing your Information Architecture. The site contains steps for card sorting, persona research, and more.
If you want to dig in deeper, read Adam Audette’s SEO Guide to Information Architecture.
Dana Lookadoo is an SEO consultant and trainer at Yo! Yo! SEO, and you can read her full PubCon speaker biography here.