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Building an Information Structure for your WordPress Site


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This beginner's session discusses how to plan your WordPress site and build its information architecture — your site’s navigation — to match that plan. This presentation will focus on the importance of a sitemap, the difference between a ‘Page’ and a ‘Post’, and how to use ‘Categories’ and ‘Tags’ to build your navigation structure. We will also review how to use the WordPress linking strategy to give the search engine spiders clear and distinct paths to follow that will improve your site’s search engine rankings.
This is the third in a series of 11 sessions designed to support those new to WordPress successfully build their first WordPress site.

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Building an Information Structure for your WordPress Site

  1. 1. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Building an Information Structure Austin WordPress Meetup March 19, 2018
  2. 2. @nick_batik@sandi_batik WHY IS SITE STRUCTURE IMPORTANT?• Building a logical content structure for your website is crucial for both usability and findability • Many eCommerce sites lack the structure to successfully guide visitors to the product they want • Having a clear site structure helps Search Engines better understand the purpose of your site which is critical for good SEO
  3. 3. @nick_batik@sandi_batik SITE STRUCTURE IS CRITICAL TO THE USER EXPERIENCE (UX) • If visitors are able to find the information or products they’re looking for they are more likely to become customers • A good site structure will help you do that.
  4. 4. @nick_batik@sandi_batik SITE STRUCTURE IS CRITICAL TO THE USER EXPERIENCE (UX)• Navigating should be easy • Categorize your posts and products so they will be easy to find • New audiences should be able to instantly grasp what kind of products or services you’re featuring on your site
  5. 5. @nick_batik@sandi_batik SITE STRUCTURE HELPS GOOGLE UNDERSTAND YOUR SITE• Your site’s structure determines whether a search engine can understand what your site is about — what you’re selling and where to find the most important content • It determines how easily a search engine will find and index the content on certain products • A good structure can lead to a higher ranking in Google.
  6. 6. @nick_batik@sandi_batik SITE STRUCTURE PREVENTS COMPETING WITH YOUR OWN CONTENT • You site probably has multiple blog posts and pages about your product or service • Those pages can be competing with each other for a high ranking in Google • Your site needs a good internal linking and taxonomy structure for Google know which page you consider most relevant • A good site structure can make all those pages work for you, instead of against you
  7. 7. @nick_batik@sandi_batik NAVIGATION PLAYS A CRUCIAL ROLE IN GETTING SITE VISITORS TO VIEW PAGES • Navigation plays a crucial role in getting site visitors to view more than just the home page. • If navigation choices are unclear visitors may chose to hit the “Back” button on their first (and final) visit to your web site
  8. 8. @nick_batik@sandi_batik GUIDING A VISITOR THROUGH YOUR SITE • Don’t place hurdles for visitors looking for something on your site. • Decide the priority of the materials site visitors need to engage • Your navigation flow must reflect those priorities • Material you want most accessible should be available from first-level menu options • Supporting Information can be accessible through submenus or links within pages
  9. 9. @nick_batik@sandi_batik THE TYPICAL WEBSITE WILL HAVE 2–3 LEVELS OF NAVIGATION• Homepage – This page is usually shown at the top of a sitemap • Primary navigation – Also referred to as “Parent Pages” make up the main navigation of your website. These pages are at the top-most level of your site • Secondary navigation – Also referred to as “Child Pages” or “secondary pages” — these items are most often seen in a dropdown. They are one level deeper than the primary navigation such as Cornerstone Pages - evergreen content that other pages or posts link with
  10. 10. @nick_batik@sandi_batik THE TYPICAL WEBSITE WILL HAVE 2–3 LEVELS OF NAVIGATION• Tertiary pages – These pages are located one level deeper than the secondary navigation and are often not visible in the site’s navigation. Examples would be Product Pages on an e-commerce website • Call-to-action items – These often take the form of a highlighted button — a donation button or a shopping cart that you click to complete an action or access a form. • Special file types – Interactive or downloadable elements such as forms, downloadable PDFs and documents
  11. 11. @nick_batik@sandi_batik A SUCCESSFUL INFORMATION STRUCTURE STARTS WITH A SITEMAP A sitemap is a diagram that outlines the hierarchy of pages within a website.
  12. 12. @nick_batik@sandi_batik SITEMAPS ARE A PLANNING TOOL USED TO MAP OUT THE STRUCTURE, NAVIGATION AND PAGE HIERARCHY OF YOUR WEBSITE • Define and organize every page of your website • Sort pages from most broad to most defined • Keep your entire design development and marketing team on track
  13. 13. @nick_batik@sandi_batik
  14. 14. @nick_batik@sandi_batik
  15. 15. @nick_batik@sandi_batik THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PAGES AND POSTS • The WordPress install comes with two content types — Pages and Posts • For those new to WordPress it is easy to get confused between Pages and Posts
  16. 16. @nick_batik@sandi_batik PAGES • Pages are hierarchical by nature and are designed for static content that rarely changes — like About Us and Contact Us • A Page can become a Parent Page to a Child Page allowing you to group different sub- pages under one Parent page
  17. 17. @nick_batik@sandi_batik PAGES • By default Pages do not allow comments - they meant for social engagement but for sharing information • Though not intended to be social — some Pages will have Social Buttons connecting readers to the site’s Social Media accounts to encourage Follows or Likes
  18. 18. @nick_batik@sandi_batik WHAT ARE POSTS? • The entries into your WordPress Blog are Posts • Post content is listed in reverse chronological order in your blog • Post are meant to be timely so the most current information is listed first • Older posts are archived based on month and year • All your Posts are searchable by Categories and Tags
  19. 19. @nick_batik@sandi_batik HOW DO WE DISTRIBUTE OUR POST CONTENT? • Post Are Social • Install one of the many social sharing plugins to encourage readers to share your posts in social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other venues that fit your user profile
  20. 20. @nick_batik@sandi_batik POSTS PROMPT RESPONSE AND CONVERSATION• Posts have a have a built-in commenting feature that allow users to comment on a particular topic • You can control the ‘How, When and If’ of Commenting through your WordPress Dashboard Settings
  21. 21. @nick_batik@sandi_batik PAGES VS. POSTS — SUMMARY OF PRIMARY DIFFERENCES• Posts are timely vs. Pages are timeless • Posts are social vs. Pages are NOT • Posts can be categorized vs. Pages are hierarchical • Pages have custom template feature vs. Posts do not • Note “ Edge Case Exceptions” – You can use plugins or code snippets to extend the functionality of both content types
  22. 22. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Do You Understand How to Use Categories to Guide Your Content Structure?
  23. 23. @nick_batik@sandi_batik CATEGORIES AND TAGS • Categories and Tags are both examples of a taxonomy system • The sole purpose of Categories and Tags are to sort and organize your content to improve the usability of your site • Sorting and organizing site content helps the visitor more easily browse content by topic rather than chronologically
  24. 24. @nick_batik@sandi_batik CATEGORIES • Categories are meant for broad grouping of your posts • Think of these as general topics or the table of contents for your site • Categories are there to help identify what your blog is really about • It is to assist readers finding the right type of content on your site • Categories are hierarchical, so you can sub-categories
  25. 25. @nick_batik@sandi_batik CATEGORIES • No one can accurately predict all the right categories • A Best Practice is to start with five generic categories • Then become more specific using subcategories • Measure your site visitor’s reaction and engagement • Adjust and add Categories and subcategories as dictated by community interest and involvement
  26. 26. @nick_batik@sandi_batik HOW TO USE GENERIC CATEGORIES TO FUTURE- PROOF YOUR BLOG • Build a Primary Category Structure with generic categories like — • How-To’s • News • Case Studies • Tools
  27. 27. @nick_batik@sandi_batik WHEN TO ADD A SUB-CATEGORY • Whenever you find that you are writing about a Sub Topic topic repeatedly… • Example: Main Category “How To’s” • Frequent sub-topic to “How To’s” topic — A/B Testing • If you are focusing on A/B Testing more than five times — Make it a Sub-Category to the Parent Category of “How To’s” • Go back to the previous A/B Testing blogs and correct the existing Category reference
  28. 28. @nick_batik@sandi_batik ASSIGNING ONE POST MULTIPLE CATEGORIES • With the proper use of Parent and Sub- Categories you shouldn’t need to classify one post into multiple top-level categories • Adding multiple categories to a post DOES NOT benefit SEO • Adding multiple categories to a post DOES NOT benefit user experience
  29. 29. @nick_batik@sandi_batik BECAUSE YOU CAN DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD • WordPress ALLOWS you to add one post into as many categories as you like • Many Bloggers add multiple categories to a post because they THINK it helps their users
  30. 30. @nick_batik@sandi_batik THINK BEFORE YOUR CLICK • Use only ONE Category per Post • Think of Categories as Table of Contents for your blog • Think of Posts with the same Category as Chapters of your Blog
  31. 31. @nick_batik@sandi_batik BEST PRACTICE FOR MANAGING CATEGORIES• EXAMPLE —Your blog has three categories: • Project Management • Enterprise Resource Management • Client Relationship Management • You notice that your many of your posts can fit into all of these multiple categories • A Best Practice would be to identify an umbrella category for all three • Maybe these posts should be Categorized under Business Management with a sub-category of Project Management, ERP or CRM?
  32. 32. @nick_batik@sandi_batik WHAT’S THE OPTIMAL NUMBER OF WORDPRESS CATEGORIES?• There are no specific optimal number of categories • It depends on the size and complexity of your site • For the sake of structure and usability a Best Practice is to utilize Sub-categories and Tags
  33. 33. @nick_batik@sandi_batik CATEGORY ARCHIVES ARE LANDING PAGES • To a Search Engine your category archives are more important than individual pages and posts • If carefully structured these archive pages should be the first result in Google • That means those archives can be your most important landing pages
  34. 34. @nick_batik@sandi_batik HOW WORDPRESS HELPS • WordPress automatically generates an archive for every category tag and custom taxonomy • That archive lists each post associated with that taxonomy in reverse chronological order • If you carefully and consistently organize your blog posts with categories and tags you guide your site visitor to the content they need
  35. 35. @nick_batik@sandi_batik WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CATEGORIES AND TAGS• The biggest difference between Categories and Tags is that you MUST categorize your post • If you do not Categorize your post, then it will be categorized under the “Uncategorized” • WordPress does not require you to add any tags
  36. 36. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Do You Understand the Purpose of WordPress Tags?
  37. 37. @nick_batik@sandi_batik TAGS • Tags were added In WordPress 2.5 to improve the usability of your site • Tags are not hierarchical • Tags are meant to describe specific details of your posts. • Think of Tags as your Blogs Index words. • Tags are the micro-data that you can use to describe your content
  38. 38. @nick_batik@sandi_batik SHOULD YOU LIMIT NUMBER OF TAGS ASSIGNED TO EACH POST? • Think of Tags as an Index and Categories as being the Table of Contents of your Blog • Tags are popular keywords that loosely relate your posts • Tags make it easy for users to find your Posts using the WordPress search • I don’t care What you are Blogging about —It is very hard to justify more than Ten Tags for a Blog Post
  39. 39. @nick_batik@sandi_batik DO TAGS WORK LIKE META KEYWORDS? • Rookie Mistake: Adding as many Tags as possible thinking Tags are meta keywords • Tags are NOT default meta keywords for your blog • Installing the SEO by Yoast plugin enables you to use your Tag structure in the meta keywords template
  40. 40. @nick_batik@sandi_batik SEO CATEGORIES VS TAGS • The question of using Categories over Tags or vice versa for a SEO Advantage is a NON-ISSUE • Categories and Tags are just the two default taxonomies, designed to work together, that comes with WordPress
  41. 41. @nick_batik@sandi_batik LAST THOUGHTS ABOUT CATEGORIES AND TAGS • Your site’s Blog is an ever-evolving book • Develop the Table of Content (categories) carefully • Chose broad topics — but be careful not to be too vague • Use Tags to generally relate multiple posts
  42. 42. @nick_batik@sandi_batik LAST THOUGHTS ABOUT CATEGORIES AND TAGS • If a specific Tag seems to be trending — give some consideration making it a sub-category • If the trending Tag would have to be added as a subcategory to several multiple top-level categories — leave it as a TAG • The goal is always to make the site as user- friendly as possible
  43. 43. @nick_batik@sandi_batik LAST THOUGHTS ABOUT CATEGORIES AND TAGS • Most advanced sites use custom taxonomies for sorting their content in addition to categories and tags • Custom Taxonomies will be addressed In a future Intermediate WordPress Class
  44. 44. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Navigation Tips and Tricks What issues are tripping you up?
  45. 45. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Navigation Resources WordPress Developers & Designers Cheat Sheets developers.html Creative 404 Page Designs pages.stml
  46. 46. @nick_batik@sandi_batik CONTENT CREATION CHECK LIST • Check your “inspiration sources” for content ideas • Choose a headline • Check keyword competition and edit your headline as needed • Research and plan your article • Choose your category and add tags • Fill in the SEO fields • Write your first draft • Go back and edit out cliches and add keywords and phrases • Add images, video, and/or other rich content • Re-read it. Edit. • Add an excerpt • Read it again • Publish • Check your editorial schedule for the next article
  47. 47. @nick_batik@sandi_batik WORDPRESS RESOURCES GET CONNECTED — Join and contribute to the Austin WordPress Tribe at: We look forward to seeing you at a #WPATX meetup soon
  48. 48. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Sandi Batik WordPress evangelist, consultant, trainer, curricula developer, author, unapologetic geek, unrepentant capitalist, lucky enough to do what I love everyday. I’ve served as Austin WordPress Meetup co-organizer since 2010. With my husband Nick Batik, co-founded Pleiades Publishing Services in 1992 and Hands-On WordPress Training in 2010. Follow me @sandi_batik / @WPATX Contact me at: Presenter
  49. 49. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Nick Batik Started in web development in 1994 and have been a WordPress consultant, and web developer since 2007. A WordPress evangelist, I’ve served as Austin WordPress Meetup co-organizer since 2010. With my partner, co-founded Pleiades Publishing Services in 1992 and Hands-On WordPress Training in 2010. Follow me @nick_batik / @WPATX Contact me at: Presenter