Gaining Online Advantage: Classification and Indexing - part 6

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 22 January 2006

Classification and Indexing

Another thing I would like to stress the importance of is a comprehensive index of your content in a browse format. If you have a large publishing organisation, having a central organised index is a vital way of giving your audience a browse mechanism, giving access to your content to search engine spiders, and sometimes of tracking where you are building duplicate content in different areas of an organisation.

A recent example of this from the BBC would be the web support for the re-launched series of Doctor Who. There was the official Doctor Who site at bbc.co.uk/doctorwho. Radio 2 produced a series of documentaries about the new show, so also had a Doctor Who microsite. BBC7, the BBC's digital speech station was repeating some old audio Doctor Who adventures, and so it also had a Doctor Who microsite. And the new series was being made in South Wales, so there was extensive coverage of the making of it at bbc.co.uk/wales.

However indexing in this fashion without a comprehensive Content Management solution can be quite labour intensive. At the BBC part of the Search team's remit is to additionally maintain the BBC's A-Z Index. You need good communication within an organisation in order to keep it up-to-date, and it needs to be up-to-date in order to be useful to the audience.

The BBC's A-Z Index

The BBC's current A-Z index is linked to from the bbc.co.uk homepage and from the majority of pages via an A-Z Index link on the global toolbar. It features a page for each of the letters of the alphabet, and additionally a page for programmes and brands that begin with the numerals 0-9. The index itself comprises over 2,000 links to content within the BBC site.

As well as listing the entries on each page within alphabetical order, the BBC also lists at the top of the page an editorialised list of the most popular destinations from this page. This aids users in finding the most popular topics without having to scroll through all of the links for the relevant letter.

The 'D' page of the BBC's A-Z Index

For the BBC, the A-Z index is a vital part of the site, as so many topics, subjects and categories of content are covered on bbc.co.uk. User testing shows that there is a proportion of internet users who will always browse to find the content they are looking for in preference to searching.

Continue to find out about how the BBC deals with overlapping areas of content within the A-Z index.

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