Many Web sites are missing the boat with search engine optimization by focusing primarily on the home page. Key pages of content also need to be optimized, especially when site visitors may jump directly to those pages without going through the home page.

Many people–and in some cases most people–will find your content with a search engine, which will take them directly to the content they seek, instead of being escorted through the home page front door and relying on a site’s internal navigation or internal search engine. While this is a valued benefit of a well-planned search engine optimization strategy, it also raises issues about successfully introducing and cross-referencing content.

It is critical for a site to have a solid information architecture to accommodate a variety of different user scenarios. That model can’t rely on a single home page to introduce visitors to your content and brand. Instead, you need to treat every page like it’s your home page. Brand awareness, site navigation, and marketing need to be reinforced at all levels. Even the deepest parts of your site should help visitors understand what the site is about as if they were seeing your brand for the first time.

Site navigation is not only a user’s guide, it is a communication tool and opportunity to market your content. Carefully consider the navigation labels you use because they will inform site visitors of new offerings that may interest them.

Once on a page in your site, visitors will be most responsive to content related to what they searched for. If done right, contextual promotions will prompt them to read the message and interact with it. Introducing modules that integrate with the content such as “If you’re interested in X, you may also be interested in Y” is a great example of this.

Understanding how visitors arrive on your site and how they get around will help you craft a holistic user experience.

(Several of the ideas in this post came from Business to Business.)

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