If you’re a webmaster, chances are you are very familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You could spout off its definition in your sleep. SEO is all about writing content rich websites and articles following a keyword-density formula. Search Engines like Google crawl through web content provided by you and other webmasters. With fresh and compelling content, your hope is to sit back and watch the backlinks come pouring into your site.
But what about if you are a mega site? By “mega” we’re talking sites like Microsoft. Derrick Wheeler, senior SEO Architect at Microsoft defines mega sites as web behemoths that have something like “one million pages of navigation to get to fourteen thousand pages of content.” It’s no surprise to see how this could spiral out of control into a mess of URLs. There are a million different ways to get to your content. That’s why when it comes to these mega sites, Wheeler says, “Structure is king, because without structure, your content won’t even be discovered.”
Don’t believe him? Go to the website of the college that you graduated from. How is the navigation? If the web team behind that design is smart, the design is all about minimalism and easy navigation. Basically, navigation that wouldn’t make the average person search endlessly for that one page they are looking for. If you’re school’s site is great—Google a few state schools and you are bound to find some disasters. Think about the content of these pages and the website’s mission. The sites have loads of information about the qualified faculty, or the exciting on-campus happenings. It should take the average user a couple of seconds to find the school’s mission, academic calendar, course list, and other important info. Just like your website, college websites are all about bringing in revenue, in the form of new students (otherwise known as walking dollar signs). Many of these pages flunk the site design final exam. Which means poor search engine ranking. Maybe you could use some re-structuring so you pass with flying colors?
Keep in mind one great rule from Wheeler’s MEGA SEOaoth and Charter: “There is nothing wrong with my BIG website(s),The search engines are just stupid.” It might seem a little odd, but keep in mind this “stupidity” during your web design or restructuring. Try to connect all the disconnected pieces and subdomains that you have out there into a cohesive unit. This is obviously a challenge—and could frankly take years if you have a huge site. But with sound website structure, you can easily manage your content as your business grows. Think of your website as a house that you can easily tack on additions to. Not a sprawling city block with dead ends and abandoned buildings.
Though, structure shouldn’t be considered the “end all” of efficient webmastering—regardless if you have a mega site or a website that hosts a few SEO-optimized pages. You have to have polished, up-to-date content. If you structure is streamlined but your content hasn’t been touched in five years, you have a big problem. It’s time to dust off that web content. Make your pages relevant and interesting to drive your link equity through the roof. If “structure is king” as Wheeler says, then he reigns with his queen, relevant content.
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