September 8, 2015
7 Best Practices for Implementing Taxonomy

If you are involved in the creation of a websites, digital marketing and other related areas in your company this will sound very familiar:

“We need to help our customers quickly and easily find the right information on our products and services at the right time, before our competitors do.”

You can have the greatest products and services in your industry, but if potential buyers can’t find the information needed to lead them to your website, and your website doesn’t make it easy to find the right content, then it doesn’t matter how good your products are.

WCM Solutions that Leverage Taxonomy

You need to organize your content in a way that makes it easy to find by your customers. While most websites do not use taxonomy to the same level as Amazon.com, any business or organization can enhance their website by applying a relevant taxonomy.

Let's look at a few examples of specific web content management solutions - or "venues" for your content - that are built around your taxonomy.

  • Website: Your website will use most, if not all, of the features described above. Taxonomy also ensures that your content editors have less work to do linking related content because it can be done by the WCM system itself using the taxonomy.
  • Search Experience: Search can be greatly improved by adding faceted search, related search, and other similar features. All these help the visitor find the information they are looking for more quickly.
  • Knowledgebase: Another example of how taxonomy can help employees or customers find information quickly, a knowledgebase is often structured and navigated based on taxonomy.
  • Customer Support Portal: Better self-service happens when customers can easily find the information they need by navigating topics or indexes or searching on terms they understand.
  • Ecommerce Website: Ecommerce websites are great examples of how taxonomy can provide visitors quick access to the products/services they want. 

In all cases the benefits of taxonomy are clear: improved content discovery, better customer self-service, enhanced search and reduced content management.

7 Best Practices for Implementing Taxonomy

There is no right way to create and manage your taxonomy, but there are some best practices that will guide you on the right path. Here we offer you seven:

Know your audience(s)

The taxonomy you create is to help your audience find the information they need and ultimately purchase something from you. If you don’t understand who you are selling your products/services to, then you won’t be able to create a taxonomy that meets anyone’s specific needs.

Use language that is relevant to each audience

How customers and prospects talk about your products and services may be very different from how your employees talk about them. Let your customers drive the language and complexity of the taxonomy structure.

Unify taxonomy across your organization

Build and share your taxonomy across all your business units to ensure a common language and understanding. Your customer doesn’t look at each business unit as separate and having its own terms, they look at your company as a whole and expect everyone to speak the same language.

Focus on reduction

The most useful taxonomies are those that are broad and shallow, not narrow and deep. You need to find a balance between being authoritative and complete, and being accessible.

Ensure functional alignment

The taxonomy you design should be based on content that is needed to drive functionality. Make sure your taxonomy supports search, website navigation, personalization and other customer experiences, and integration with other business applications.

Allow for extensibility

Your taxonomy will change over time. New products and services will be added requiring new categories and topics, new metadata will support personalization and new approaches to search. Plan to regularly examine your existing structure and modify it as needed.

Implement Your Taxonomy in Stages

If you have a fairly extensive taxonomy, or you want to build for future changes, consider implementing the taxonomy in stages. You don’t want to have categories or topics on your website with no content in them. Deploy elements of the taxonomy when you have content to support them.

Posted by David Hillis
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