Why a Taxonomy & Tagging Strategy Is Important for Your Site Build
When you're embarking on a site redesign or rebuild, there is no shortage of important discovery tasks to complete. However, one task that's often dealt with too late in the process is developing a clear taxonomy and tagging strategy—with an emphasis on the tagging. At Velir, many of our clients’ sites are content-rich with thousands of articles, blog posts, press releases, podcasts, reports, events, and other structured content pages. Without a clear strategy to categorize and create associations between objects on a redesigned website there is no way to establish relationships that can drive dynamic listings, related content, and robust faceted search applications—features that have become standard methods of wayfinding on modern websites.
What, Exactly, Do We Mean by Taxonomy?
Website taxonomy can mean a couple of different things. A website’s
page content hierarchy is a form of taxonomy. A simple homepage with landing pages
for services or products that lead to detail pages creates an intuitive
hierarchy for your site and the content of those pages give them meaning. But to
your website's content management system, the content is only as good as your ability to
classify it with a content type and any other business taxonomy category that's meaningful for your site's users. If they don't have any established
taxonomies on their website, our clients can often easily identify a set of useful topics or descriptive
terms to tag similar content with during a redesign or rebuild.
Depending on the industry, some of these taxonomy axes are obvious:
- A health network often tags content by specialties, conditions, and locations—used to classify and cross-reference page content as well as physicians.
- A university often tags content by programs, departments, academic topics, and people.
- A consumer brand/ecommerce site often tags content by products, markets, industries, and regions.
- A foundation/social impact organization often tags content by topics, projects, and locations, and experts.
Alongside these broad, cross-cutting taxonomy groups there are often sub-groups of taxonomy that are specific to a content type such as event types or blog categories. It all depends on the scale of the platform and how the content needs to be sliced and diced for consumption. Getting this right early in the planning stages of a website redesign or rebuild helps save time in your implementation and unlocks endless capabilities to serve relevant content to your audiences from anywhere on your site.
What Are Some Examples of Taxonomy in Action?
Dynamic Content Listing
The following is an example of dynamic content listing component configured to show just the four latest pages tagged with content type "Blog". Each of these items displays clickable related taxonomy terms as well—each leading to a view of search which functions as a type of term index.
Most modern sites include the concept of related content but generating a related content listing manually is tedious and less meaningful over time. The following is an example of automated features showing the two most relevant case studies based on the taxonomy types of the page being viewed.
Here is an example of a faceted search application that allows filtering of content by all taxonomy axes in the system. Note that the content type's "Idea," "News," "Case Study," and "Service" are clearly labeled for differentiation on each item in the listing.
Taxonomy is often rendered explicitly to give your users context about what concepts apply to what they are reading. These are sometimes linked to an index view for a term. The following example is a case study from our Data Integration and Activation practice, which contains explicit service tags like “Intelligence and Analytics,” “Personalization Strategy,” and “Personalization Implementation.”
Taxonomy-based personalization can be both implicit and explicit. You can build a profile of what a visitor views, log taxonomy terms, and serve similar content to them at the key moments or you can use self-identified interests matching your taxonomy to do the same without all the AI. Below is an example of the latter where a user selected specific interests from their member profile and sees a content promo atop a resource library matching one of their interests (e.g., Leadership).
How Do I Know My Taxonomy and Tagging Strategy Is Successful?
- Operational Efficiency—With a well-defined taxonomy, your teams does less rework to accommodate business requirements relying on these relationships since they were known during your site's UX and visual design phases and considered in feature capabilities. More importantly, the ability to set rule-based dynamic content listings and related content promos significantly diminishes your team's manual content authoring.
- Navigation and Findability—Site visitors can more easily navigate your site and find the content they're looking for because a consistent taxonomy ties it all together. This allows you to offer search faceting, promote similar content, and personalize experiences based on other content the users have visited or self-identified that they're interested in.
- Speaking Your Audiences' Language—A successful taxonomy is one that speaks your audiences' language and aligns with their expectations. Careful attention to analytics, search terms, and other audience insights, is key when planning your taxonomy values.
- SEO—Since robots evaluate a website via semantic analysis, the stronger the relationships between your content, the more effective a search engine's crawl will be at tying your site's content to relevant search terms. Exposing taxonomy tags as metadata can facilitate crawling and help search engines recognize those connections.
During a site build or redesign, work with your technology partners to define a clear taxonomy and tagging strategy early in the process. That way it can guide UX, design, and implementation to improve customer engagement, streamline navigation, improve the operational efficiency, and boost SEO for your website.