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What Is a Taxonomy?

A taxonomy is a scheme of classification, a vocabulary of terms grouped into categories and subcategories. It is a way to organize digital content using clear, logical categories and associated tags so that users searching a website can more easily find what they’re looking for.

It is also important to note what taxonomy is not. It is not meta data. It is not navigation. It is not just a big group of tags. It is further defined by the following:

  • It employs a controlled vocabulary, organized by hierarchy and containing both parent and child tags.
  • It is aligned with a site’s content,including navigation and attributes, but typically does not duplicate all content. Therefore, the way you choose to organize your taxonomy will likely differ from how content is organized in the navigation.
  • It is often built and maintained in the website’s content management system, but can also be managed via dedicated software.

An Example of Taxonomy Hierarchy

The following diagram shows an example of a hierarchy, in which there are five levels of tagging within a product line. Some taxonomies will not require going that many levels deep.

Benefits for B2B Marketing

When done well and with consideration for how your B2B audience interacts with your digital channels, a good taxonomy allows your content to be:

  • Accurate: A standardized vocabulary gives you consistent labels for all your content and assets across all formats (e.g. html, pdf, video, audio).
  • Flexible: Using a tagging system means that content can be reused more easily—for example, bundles of topical theme-driven content can be gathered instantly and related content can be accurately associated.
  • Findable: When it is used to standardize copy and tag content, it means that your site is more likely to have accurate search results and get users what they want.
  • Easy to manage: When your editorial and production staff have a clear sense of the content and how to apply a taxonomy, they’re more likely to maximize its potential.

In addition to enabling relevant filtering within a search engine and returning accurate results based on assigned tags, a taxonomy can assist with content display and on-page filtering, personalization and recommendations, and reuse of content for syndication and for enabling RSS feeds.

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