The Beginner’s Guide to Website Taxonomy For Users and SEO

What is a website taxonomy? Taxonomy creation is the process of creating a classification system for a website. One of the most notable examples of taxonomy is the species classification system. Many ways of implementing a taxonomic system on your website will provide a better user experience and help your search engine rankings.

Websites that don’t use a taxonomy are complex for users to navigate, and visitors to the page often don’t find what they’re looking for – causing an average of 38% of visitors to a website will leave a site that is poorly laid out.

Why You Need A User and SEO-Focused Taxonomy

Applying a well-planned taxonomy to your content can transform how you communicate with your customers by organizing your information in a way that aligns with what your users expect. In addition, it provides a significant return on investment through improved content discovery, SEO findability, online marketing, customer self-service, and commerce. Four primary reasons having a taxonomy for your website is essential.

People Navigate Differently

Different people navigate according to their needs and interests, and at times the same user will want to find content differently.

Users Think About Content In Different Ways

Tagging content by taxonomy allows you to relate content by topic and type. So, a news item on a Google Update would have a sidebar containing other news items related to changes in the Google Algorithm, recent publications about Google SEO, and recent news items.

Users Have Different Content Interests

Taxonomy allows you to connect people with their interests and likes. Let your visitors personalize their experience on your website and join your members’ interests with the content you have on your website.

Search Engines Need Structure To Be Effective and Efficient

Search engines crawl the web and websites as humans do – through links and structure. Therefore, the more optimal your structure (internally and externally), the more efficiently and effectively the search engines can find, index, and rank your content.

Context Is Important

Each page has its value for both users and search engines. Users navigate based on mental models; therefore, each page fits into this model like a key. Search engines use context and website structure to understand ranking metrics flow and page value toward keyword targets.

With that said, let’s examine common page types for a website and their impact on users and search engines.

Information Pages

Information Pages can focus on niche search terms, can be helpful for visitors, and may attract external backlinks. These pages can also sell a service or product after providing information and internally linking to important category pages, passing on more SEO value to them.

There’s usually no limit to the number of information pages created. Still, when thinking of a site taxonomy, it’s essential to categorize them all, so there isn’t a huge list of pages within the navigation menu.

Category Pages

Category pages usually focus on generic keywords, which can bring invaluable website traffic. In addition, category pages lead to a related group of products or services or, sometimes, more precisely, ‘subcategory’ pages.

Product or Service Pages

Product/service pages should focus on a single product or service and attract niche or long-tail keywords. Having all products or services just listed on the category pages means that there is no specific page about a particular product or service, making it difficult for SEO and search engines to rank.

Blog Pages

Blog/news pages can provide information, promote products and services, or showcase any news about the business.

Blogging can help draw in niche traffic, attract external SEO backlinks, add additional content to the website, and tie up nicely with social media marketing efforts.

Goals of Taxonomies

Building a taxonomy requires consideration of business goals, users and context, and content sets.


What are the business purposes and goals of the taxonomy? Is it for a specific initiative such as document management or content management more broadly?


What is the target audience for the content? What are the user profiles, and what are their information usage needs?


What is the operational purpose of the content? Is it limited to the team and specific initiatives, or are there multiple types of content to be considered?

How to Create Effective Taxonomy

Here are ten taxonomy basics that you can use to create and develop your website’s taxonomic structure:

1. Determine the Primary Purpose that Your Taxonomy Serves

There are many benefits if you create a high-quality taxonomy for your website, and it’s essential to determine which of these benefits you want to focus on. One of the critical taxonomy benefits is that taxonomy will make it possible to organize your website easily.

In some cases, the taxonomy’s primary purpose may be to help customers find products you sell on your website. As a result, a well-designed eCommerce taxonomy will likely improve your conversion rates significantly.

Determining the taxonomy’s primary purpose will help determine how you design it. For instance, if better SEO is the primary goal, it’s essential to emphasize using keywords.

To ensure that the taxonomy helps you provide your site’s visitors with a better user experience, the taxonomy should be designed to increase content findability. In addition, a well-designed taxonomy can encourage people to stay on your page.

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, this is extremely important since most users stick around on a page for less than 59 seconds. So if you don’t capture the user’s attention in less than a minute, you lose them.

2. Do Keyword Research for Each Section of the Taxonomy

While it is possible to do keyword research on your own, a variety of automated tools come up with a list of potential keywords for you. Then, you can pick the best keyword(s) for your website.

It’s essential to have multiple keywords for each section of the taxonomy. However, they should never be chosen on a whim. The keywords you choose must be directly relevant to the content on your page. Several keywords that describe similar concepts should also be used in each section.

If some sections of the taxonomy promote local services, you need to incorporate principles of local SEO. To do this, it is essential to include the name of your town, city, or region in the keywords as much as possible.

3. Consider the Needs of Your Website’s Readers

You should carefully examine the demographics and habits of your website’s readers. Here are some questions you should be asking as you conduct your research:

Where Do Your Website’s Users Tend to Be Located?

If people in foreign countries often view your website, including language options in the taxonomy is a good idea. Likewise, owners of websites with a multicultural audience should have several language options for visitors.

How Long Do Users of the Website Tend to Stay?

If people spend a lot of time on your website, having a few levels of your taxonomy may be advantageous. However, it’s best to have as few levels as possible if visitors don’t tend to spend much time on your site.

Do Visitors Tend to Come from a Specific Region?

If visitors to your website tend to be from a specific location, it’s a good idea to include words in the category titles of your taxonomy to help you connect with these readers.

What Are Customers Looking for?

Determine what types of products customers typically buy from your website. This will enable you to create titles for taxonomy categories to help users find the products they’re searching for.

4. Determine What Taxonomy Structure Works Best for Your Website

Website owners use several common taxonomy structures. Here are the most common website taxonomies:

Flat Taxonomies

A flat website taxonomy has a home page with a list of subcategories. In this type of taxonomy, there are no levels within the subcategories. This makes all subcategories top-level categories, and choosing from the list of pages on the home page is possible.

Which types of sites should use this type? This type of taxonomy is best for owners of small websites. However, this taxonomy structure isn’t good for larger websites.

A Hierarchical Taxonomy

This taxonomy structure is often used for websites that are a bit larger. In a hierarchal taxonomy, there are major categories that include subcategories. When an individual clicks on one of the subcategories, they are given options for one or more subcategories within them. In some cases, there are several new levels of subcategories appear.

Here are some essential steps that you must follow when you’re creating a hierarchical taxonomy:

  • Try to minimize the number of levels in the hierarchy. This will improve content findability.
  • The pages must be divided up based on the type of content on the page rather than research data for keywords.
  • Be careful if you use acronyms for category titles. Unless you can be confident that readers will always be familiar with an acronym, you should spell it out before using it.

A Network Taxonomy

There are many ways that you can create a network taxonomy. In some cases, the categories are connected by association. Sometimes, a network taxonomy can be used in conjunction with a hierarchal taxonomy.

What types of sites should use this? Network taxonomies are commonly used by individuals who own larger websites.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re creating a network taxonomy:

  • If categories are linked by association, ensure they are related.
  • Consider having the most recent information or most popular content available in a different section than the rest.

Facet Taxonomy

There are different ways of creating a faceted taxonomy. They divide the categories of content based on an attribute of the content or products being sold. Facet taxonomies are particularly useful for individuals selling multiple products on their websites. In addition, facet taxonomies make it possible to incorporate various taxonomy structures. However, avoiding duplicate content using this taxonomy structure is always essential.

5. Create a Team to Design the Taxonomy

The team should generally have anywhere between four and seven people. However, there are cases when a larger group may be necessary.

Everyone who works on it should be knowledgeable about the content of your website. In addition, all team members should possess strong organizational skills and know-how to incorporate a better SEO strategy for your page.

Typically the core team consists of the following:

  • Business representatives who work with the content
  • Information manager
  • Taxonomy specialist
  • SEO specialist to help with the search engine’s needs
  • Technical subject matter expert who understands the constraints and opportunities of the implementation environment

6. Effectively Organize the Team Meeting

Here are some tips that can allow you to have a thriving group meeting when creating your website’s taxonomy:

  • Brainstorm: It’s a good idea to develop several ideas for your website’s taxonomy before choosing one. The team brainstorming session should last anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes.
  • A group leader should be designated for the team, and this individual should facilitate good communication between group members.
  • The group should reach a consensus before implementing a taxonomy.

7. Consider Whether to Use Automation

For some business owners, automated tools can be a highly effective way to create your website’s taxonomy. However, this isn’t always the best option. It’s often best to use automated tools if you have a large website. However, owners of smaller websites should avoid the use of automated tools. For some website owners, it’s best to use automatic and manual taxonomy design. If you use automation to create the taxonomy, it’s essential to make sure that you use an effective and reliable software program.

8. Search Feedback for Clues about How to Design Your Taxonomy

It’s a good idea to look for customer feedback and use that information to help structure your taxonomy. One great way to do this is to survey your customers. Another great way to get information from your customers is to offer an online form that allows customers to give feedback about your website. After the taxonomy is implemented, it’s a good idea to continue gathering customer information.

9. Test the Taxonomic Structure

When you are first implementing a taxonomy, it’s essential that you immediately test it. Here are some taxonomy basics to keep in mind while you’re trying your website’s taxonomic structure:

Step into Your Viewers’ Shoes and Ask Yourself if Visitors Will Be Able to Find the Necessary Information

This test should involve as much of the content as possible. For smaller website owners, running this test with all the content on your site may be possible.

Determine if Visitors to Your Site Can Perform All Necessary Tasks in a Reasonable Amount of Time

Time how long it takes to search for and purchase various products off of your page. Furthermore, how long it takes to search for multiple articles on your website? Compare these times with the time visitors typically spend on websites like yours. Make sure that the time it takes to perform these tasks is significantly less than the time people usually spend on websites like yours.

Determine if the Taxonomic Categories Are Clearly Defined

Ensure there isn’t a significant overlap between the categories you created.

If the taxonomic structure you have created needs more work, it’s essential to make the necessary changes immediately. Then, after you complete the changes, go through the same testing process again. It’s also required to go through the testing process if you make changes to the taxonomy later to increase content findability or improve other aspects of your website.

10. Taxonomy Creation Isn’t a One-Time Event

Keep updated on changes you could make to the taxonomy to improve your website and increase content findability. In some cases, categories in the taxonomy may become obsolete. For example, if you have a large website, it will be essential to have a team of employees continuing to check the site’s taxonomy to ensure it’s working correctly. In addition, if you begin selling new products or provide further information on your website, it is often necessary to put this content in a new taxonomic category.

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