SEO and IA: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship


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Search technology and IA have developed on parallel tracks over the last many years. I propose that they join forces in creating an enhanced user information finding experience and present specific opportunities for deeper IA engagement.

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  • Using imagery in this demonstration is really effective. You have done a fantastic job here friend.

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  • SEO and IA: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

    1. 1. 2007 IA Summit: Las Vegas SEO and IA: The Makings of a Beautiful Friendship
    2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Me: Information architect/Search specialist </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IA since 1998 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search since 2004 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Topic: Search engine optimization and IA </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shift in user locus of attention </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>From navigation to search box </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shift in our locus of attention </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>From macro-structure to micro-wayfinding </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>What I want </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IA to become a partner in developing search technology that works with the user </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IA community to “think” about how users find their websites when they design them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key takeaways [fingers crossed at my end] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Search optimization and IA can and should co-exist </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>One should not exist at the expense of the other </li></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Search Usability <ul><li>Web analytics show preference for search box over any site navigation of any kind </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Search enables users to develop a need-specific/use-specific information path </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Search engine users visit more pages than those using navigation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pogo effect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> now offers preview service so user does not have to click through </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How much of the navigation will they see in a thumbnail? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Out of the top 20 results and you are out of sight and out of mind for a majority of users </li></ul>
    4. 4. Blame it all on Google <ul><li>PageRank is a pre-query valuation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on number of links to the page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1 link=1 vote </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most votes wins top placement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has no relationship to the subject of the query </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Googlearchy : dominant Web sites become more firmly entrenched in search results by nature of size </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Link rich get richer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Failings soon uncovered </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Link farms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Googlehacks </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Search 2.0 <ul><li>Web 2.0 give us Search 2.0 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Harnessing the collective intelligence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Online bookmarking </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Architecture of participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Open source Search </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Peer-to-peer Search </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Index of nodes in system </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Query passed to find appropriate node </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Remixable data sources and data transformation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Local search </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Any of the “maps” applications </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> and other travel sites </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Software above the level of a single device </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile search </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Compensation for the commercialization of organic search </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Paid ads do not have to map semantically to the results they accompany </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wales and Searchipedia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Program not tied to a revenue model </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Now It is All About Meaning <ul><li>As Moore’s Law brings about cheaper, faster, stronger hardware, the quest changes from indexing everything to the presentation of results </li></ul><ul><li>Search challenge to determine relevance without understanding meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Transition from strict computation to computational techniques to determine meaning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hilltop Algorithm </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Topic-sensitive PageRank </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Hilltop Algorithm <ul><li>Segmentation of corpus into broad topics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subset that is then extrapolated to Web as a whole </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Created by Jon Kleinberg at Cornell in late 1990s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consultant to Google </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Selection of authority sources within these topic areas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Authorities have lots of non-related pages on the same subject pointing to them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality of links more important than quantity of links </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Determination of HUBS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pages that point to many authority sources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pre query calculations applied at query time </li></ul><ul><li>Likely part of Google’s Florida update in 2004 </li></ul>
    8. 8. Topic-Sensitive PageRank <ul><li>Consolidation of Hypertext Induced Topic Selection [HITS] and PageRank </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-query calculation of factors based on subset of corpus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Context of term use in document </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Context of term use in history of queries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Context of term use by user submitting query </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Creator now a Senior Engineer at Google </li></ul>
    9. 9. Search Further Down the Road <ul><li>Semantic search technology patents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Search tool with preset categories and keywords </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>4-part database of information </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Index, categories, keywords, document-specific data </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Categories define topics through human-mediation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Keywords extracted from document text </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>User can iterate search results through related keywords presented from database </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search manager </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Brokering application that facilitates selection of best search engine for the user’s query </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Similarity estimation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Creates “sketch” or compact representation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Compares sketches based on determined similarity threshold </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Deleted duplicate entries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personalized search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Microsoft: Compares snippets of Web search engine results with data collected from user behavior and client </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrated in NYT article March 7, 2007 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Google: user bookmarks [online and client] used to construct “personalized search object” that is used to filter Web search result </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Predictive search </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bayesian model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compares user choices to predict more appropriate result from same vector space </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. SEO and IA: Choices <ul><li>Capitulate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search technology continue on parallel path </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cooperate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work with current search technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop best practices that build on developments in search technology </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Initiate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Influence development of search technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Become a partner in developing user-centric search technology </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Action Items </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Influence the technology to work for not against user </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Site Navigation Strategy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Site Organization Strategy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Link Strategy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Page Code Strategy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Content Strategy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Metadata Strategy </li></ul></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Initiate: Site Navigation Strategy <ul><li>Locus of attention has changed from navigation to search </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hard-coded navigation structures are losing ground to pogo strikes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Navigation Blindness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Navigation Fatigue </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Page Paradigm </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Transitional Volatility </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Users need inducement to move further into the site </li></ul><ul><li>Search technology rewards relationship navigation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Berrypicking Information Model </li></ul></ul><ul><li>System approach to navigation development </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Systems have specific behaviors and outcomes </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Initiate: Site Organization Strategy <ul><li>Distance makes a difference </li></ul><ul><li>Hierarchy reflects relevance </li></ul><ul><li>MOSS 2007 and use of structural factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>URL depth: the further from the homepage, the less important it must be </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click distance: the further from an authority page, the less important it must be </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Architecture extends from the site to the page </li></ul>
    13. 13. Initiate: Linking Strategy <ul><li>Links are human-mediated relationships </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blast services are no longer worthwhile </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Related sites, niche directories, online bookmarking sites, provide starting points </li></ul><ul><li>Create link-based relationship model of relevance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Create or find authority </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hook up to HUBs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Think beyond the site </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Cooperate: Page Code Strategy <ul><li>Reveal the site to the search technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sitemap.xml </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Provide on the page navigation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t rely on dynamic navigation that spider cannot read </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Craft structures that cue technology on importance </li></ul><ul><li>Illuminate the non-textual functionality </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Optimize JScript and Flash </li></ul></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Initiate: Content Strategy <ul><li>Dense, subject-specific content is what is indexed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People will scroll </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If they don't scroll, they will print it out </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Content to code ratio of 25% </li></ul><ul><li>Promote a keyword-to-content ratio 10–15% </li></ul><ul><li>Design on-the-page structure to move important information to the top </li></ul><ul><li>Design relational content models </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Next steps as well as more information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Develop authority sections on site </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Topic-based, not type-based </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Cooperate: Metadata Strategy <ul><li>Many forms of description </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In the code </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Page title [in the browser window] </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Description </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Keywords? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In the content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Display title </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Content headings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Most effective if unique to the content on the page </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Say goodbye to cut and paste </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Description rivals structure for importance for user context </li></ul><ul><ul><li> thumbnails </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Humans determine the “meaning” of the document and inform the machine </li></ul>
    17. 17. SEO and IA: Threats and Opportunities <ul><li>Threats </li></ul><ul><li>Search technology advances without user representation </li></ul><ul><li>Search engines have become dominant navigation tool through information spaces </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bountiful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevant? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Traditional IA methodology increasingly less useful </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hierarchy: pages further from the home page deemed less important </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hard-coded navigation: not visible to search engines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not Authority-based </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Users seeking human-mediated guides to find information </li></ul><ul><li>Current search rewards a more flexible and intuitive IA </li></ul><ul><li>Replaced by a new structural paradigm based on relationship and context </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hub and authorities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality over quantity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Birds of a feather subject-wise </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Marianne Sweeny [email_address]