Proper Website Hierarchy Structure

I finished my first week at Company X (I just realized I never asked permission to blog about them so I don’t want a billion dollar company suing me, doesn’t seem efficient. Call me naive, or too cautious but I’d rather play it safe). I’ll give you some background information on the situation so you aren’t lost throughout this post. Awesome company is an enormous eCommerce site. We have no Brick and Mortar retail stores, it is purely catalog, print, and online business. It’s a billion dollar company and organizes its hierarchy by the standard Supercategory > Category > Department > Class > Skuset > Sku. Here is a visual example of the companies hierarchy.


Example of Hierarchy – Credit to Invisible Children

WAIT! Don’t leave yet! Yes this seems to be entirely way off topic but it shows a great visual of ecommerce hierarchy. It also gives you awareness to what Invisible Children is running and an inspiring video that James Russell created and went viral and raised awareness through social media. But that’s another story. Lets break it down.

SuperCategory Example

Supercategory is the most general description of a section. For example “Office Supplies” is a super category that gives you a generalized overview of what that section will hold. For a visual
Category Example
Category is slightly more descriptive. This gives the user a way to distinguish by more categorical choices ie. filing supplies, filing storage, office accessories, dry erase boards.

Department/Class separates the categories into different categories. Yes it’s confusing, think of these two as taking a pile of oranges and separating them according to size, and/or tint of orange. Very confusing – for all intensive purpose and making life easier, lets imagine these are part of category.
SkuSet Example
Skuset is a highly rounded down group of items. This is where branded items becomes more specific, or
Sku Example
Sku is the main selling page. The use gets all the information on the product including reviews, pricing, other options etc.

Expand this into thousands and thousands of webpages built through an ecommerce hierarchy and you get something like this:

Now that you have a small insight of an ecommerce site. It would be a great idea to go through what I had learned in my short time here and the process its going to take to get there. To do this we can put it in the form of a simple case study (without the end results) that still lacks the results part.

Problem (so far)

Awesome Company was very far behind in their SEO practices. In a market dominated by big names like Office Max, Office Depot, Staples, and Amazon, The Company maintains its competitive edge through high customer service, and experience in the industry. This would be our value proposition I suppose. Just this year, SEO began to really gather in the minds of the executives and they began to give SEO a budget alongside paid advertising, display advertising, and affiliates. This makes up the digital marketing team. So this should be a breeze, eh?

Wrong. So wrong.

The amount of things that could use optimization varied from the basic SEO practices such as creating a large master keyword list, as well as tracking them. To advanced practices like information architecture and site architecture. Believe it the architecture of this site nearly gave me a stroke because it was so much to take in. Ok, that was a little hyperbolific but the site needed a lot of help that I can’t even fully list.

Solution (for now)

Currently I have been put on keyword research duties. Yay. The current list they have is over 9,000 words long and they aren’t organized at all. So my amazingly boring job of organized the keywords into Supercategories and Categories will take up most of my time. So naturally to make this much less boring – I’m going to blog in the middle of it.


So I understand I didn’t provide too much insight on my time here, but I did give a visual of an ecommerce hierarchy. A company this large has over 40,000 pages, so understanding how it is organized is a vital starting point. Now onto more keyword research/organization. Yay!

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