Phases & Prioritization
At this point you should have a complete sitemap with proper categorization and URL structures, along with a plan for implementing various types of navigation that will ensure that users and search engines alike are able to easily find every page on your entire site within a few clicks.
It is common at this point in the planning process to feel a bit overwhelmed. If you have done a good job of identifying all of the content that your site could/should feature in order to become the leading authority in your industry… it is likely to be more content that you originally anticipated.
Again, this is a very normal and common feeling after completing a thorough set of site architecture exercises.
What you have to keep in mind is that you can only do one thing at a time, and it is likely that you will have to break your new site plan into phases.
It is recommended that you go through your new Aggregated Sitemap, and decide whether pages will go into phase 1 (pages that are critical in order for the site to function), phase 2 (pages that are important to the core offering), phase 3 (pages that would be nice to have because they will support the core offer) and phase 4 (pages that will just be continuously added over time, such as blog posts).
It is perfectly acceptable to launch your site with only the minimum viable content and to grow your site over time!
In fact, this is the recommended path for a successful website. First of all, you need to get your site live and start driving traffic, making money and gathering feedback from users. Second, it is important that you site continues to grow over time. Google rewards sites that are actively growing and participating in online communities with better rankings.
Keeping Your Sitemaps Current
As you develop your site it is likely that you will add pages and sections and delete others. Make sure that every time you make add or delete a page, that the sitemap is kept up-to-date. Over time this sitemap will prove to be one of the most valuable tools you have in managing your website and keeping on track with your development plan.
There isn’t much more to be said about this, but it cannot be stressed enough. Keep your plan up to date!
So, Now You’ve Got A Great Information Architecture Plan…
Now that you know what content you intend to include on your site, it’s time to make sure that your technical architecture will be able to properly support it. There is a massive difference between posting content on a website and posting content on a super optimized website… and that difference is in the technical optimization.
Most websites are developed for the purpose of presenting content correctly in browsers. But search engines are not browsers. Search engines face the task of actually understanding your content, and unfortunately most web developers just don’t build things with search engines in mind. It’s not the fault of your web developer. You wouldn’t expect a heart surgeon to perform your brain surgery… would you?
The fact is, search engine optimization is a highly specialized field, search engines change their algorithms all the time and it’s tough for web professionals to stay up-to-date with their requirements. When search engine spiders get to most websites they are like a far sighted person with their nose stuffed right against the page… everything is a bit blurry and hard for them to understand. But with the next course you will learn how to make sure that search engines are able to see your content with 20/20 vision.
In the next course “Technical Optimization – Step-by-step page specific and site-wide optimization strategies” you will learn how to make sure that search engines are able to clearly understand what your content is and what it should rank for.
If you’re a web developer, then you are in for a treat. The next lesson is going to make you a lot better at your job! And if you’re not a web developer, then it is even more important that you at least understand the basic concepts of technical optimization so that you can make sure you are getting the quality you will need to succeed.