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5 Free Tools for Creating Information Architectures for SEO


One ofEvan-saks-guest-blogger the most important elements of creating a great website is having a great information architecture. A site that is well organized and easy to navigate benefits both the user as well as the site's search engine optimization (SEO). You see, good SEO isn't just about keywords, content and links. Having a site architecture that is easily crawled, understood and indexed by search engine spiders has a major impact on search engine rankings.

When designing your site's information architecture for SEO, it's important to pay careful attention to two important elements:

  • Keywords – Knowing which keywords you want to rank on for your business is the key to creating content and topical categories on your website

  • Organization – Once you have your site content, it needs to be organized semantically and hierarchically structured so it's easily found and cataloged by search engines

Now, creating a good information architecture for SEO can be a complex and labor intensive process. Luckily, there are a number of free tools designed to simplify things, by finding keywords that are relevant to your business, grouping those keywords/content pages into logical categories and allowing you to diagram a hierarchical website.

Microsoft Excel is one of the most basic, yet handy free tools you can use to create site structures and wireframes. Some terrific Excel site map templates are available on the Information Architect Institute's Learning Resources website, which are free to download. Excel is a great tool because almost everyone is familiar with how it works. However, the knock against Excel as an information architecture tool for SEO is its limitations. Excel wasn't designed for creating site structures, so nothing is automated.

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Wonder Wheel is a search refinement tool from Google that gives ways to explore themes and find derivatives of keywords by drilling deeper into the topic of a search query. Say I'm putting together a website about dogs and one of the sections will be about “dog health.” Wonder Wheel helps me get ideas for subsections and the content categories I would need for my website. So it gets me to think about how to create my information architecture and structure it for effective SEO.

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Keyword Map is a free keyword searching tool that presents the keywords you search in a graphical format based upon group relationships. When you enter your keywords (here, I queried “pet care”), a chart map is generated with two strings: one of keywords that are different but related to your search word, another of terms that contain your searched keyword. So if you're faced with a need for more keywords/content ideas to rank for and how to structure them, this free tool is a big help.

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Free Keyword Niche Finder by WordStream gives users lists of the most popular and relevant keywords for their websites, along with the most interesting keyword niches or clusters to target for SEO. For example, say you sell “dog toys.” The Free Keyword Niche Finder discovers new dog toy-related keyword opportunities for you, groups them semantically and even orders them hierarchically. Business owners and marketers can then leverage the results to develop and structure intelligent information architectures for their websites. Or they can use the data to create new segments of content to add to their existing navigation and tap into new search verticals and new business opportunities.

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WriteMaps is a free browser-based information architecture tool that lets users create, edit and share site maps online. What's great about WriteMaps is that users can work together creatively on a centralized version of a site map, so there’s no need to worry about exporting your files and emailing them to all the decision makers. The user interface is very simple, making it easy to visualize and move the URL routes and file paths to see what does and doesn't work for creating an SEO-friendly pyramid of relevance on your website.

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About Evan Saks:

After graduating from Franklin & Marshall College with an independent studies major in Advertising, Evan immediately embarked on a career in marketing. Beginning with a tour of several Boston-area ad agencies over ten years, Evan handled accounts from all types of industries, including retail, CPG, business-to-business and high technology. At PARTNERS & Simons (advertising agency) in Boston, Evan established a “core competency” in the telecommunications industry, especially speech recognition, recruiting and handling a roster of clients to become the agency’s biggest biller.

One of those technology clients, Commerce.TV, hired Evan to the “client side” in 1999, at the height of the technology boom, to launch interactive TV services through the cable and satellite TV industry.
Following Commerce.TV, Evan jumped back to consumer marketing, spending seven years at 1-800-Mattress as the Vice President of Marketing, handling all consumer advertising, media, creative, and production, and becoming the face and voice of the direct retailer in franchise markets.
At 1-800-Mattress, Evan conceived and spearheaded a search marketing initiative using pay-per-click ads and a “chat” application tied back to the call center. This chat deployment was wildly successful – even at the depth of the economic recession – and soon contributed a 22% sales increase at an ad:sales ratio consistently under 10% at a time when the industry was enduring unprecedented sales declines.

Evan has also run a marketing consulting practice called Lungfish Communications since 1994, offering “Adaptive Marketing for an Evolving World” to all types of small businesses and technology startups. Services include a full range of marketing communications from corporate identity to internet/search marketing. Check out Evan Saks on LinkedIn

Evan and his family live in suburban Boston, where he enjoys community events, rollerblading, and New England Patriots football.

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