How you design your site’s architecture is critical not only to the way users experience your brand—it also affects how search engines discover and rank your content. Well-coded and search-friendly navigation results in a highly effective site menu structure, which ultimately enables your website to attract more leads, conversions, and higher search rankings. Ineffective and jumbled up structure, on the other hand, can lead to increased bounce rates, buyer frustration, and poor brand impression.
If you have overlooked site navigation in your SEO strategy, don’t worry—it’s not too late to arm yourself with tried and tested techniques that can help you optimize navigation, boost user experience, and higher search rankings. Following best practices in site navigation design ensures a positive brand experience and enables search crawlers to properly index your content.
Below are some of the site navigation design strategies that successful websites use. Use these ideas to create a pattern your own website structure or discover what works best for your brand and business:
- Universal Navigation
The whole point of site architecture is to enable visitors to navigate quickly through your pages so they can get to what they came for—and fast. Having a ‘universal navigation strip’ that stays the same regardless of the page allows you to provide visitors with quick links to major sections of your site. For visitors, this serves as an easy map around your pages. For search engines, this signals that every page within your site is linked to the top level pages you have specified. This is critical to SEO because internal linking signifies the importance of certain pages. In general, pages included in your universal navigation are going to rank better than those further down the navigational structure.
- Page Hierarchy
The best time to plan out page hierarchy is before you start developing your website, while you are in the best position to organize your information. That said, it is never too late to reorganize your site for the sake of an optimized navigation. The key to planning out page hierarchy is to make your categories logical. Each major category should be distinct and unique; this will make it easier to put subcategories in place. Unless you are a bigger production than giant ecommerce sites like Amazon.com, it’s best to limit the number of your major categories. If you have a large number of major categories, try paring them down and rethinking your organization. Finally, try to even out the number of subcategories within each of your main categories. A good site hierarchy is one of the main building blocks of a great navigational structure.
Is your navigation page loaded with data or products? It will be difficult for users to find what they need without a filter. The tricky part about using filters is avoiding duplicate content. There is a solution to this, though—and that is to give your filters an order so that you don’t have to worry about duplicates. Note that filtered pages are not indexed, meaning they can’t rank. If you absolutely want these filtered pages to rank, give them their own sub-category page.
- Vertical and Horizontal Links
Breadcrumbs can be used to help users and search engines know where content fits into your entire site architecture. Not only do they increase backlinks to your navigation pages—they also make your site hierarchy stronger. Horizontal links or related content suggestions (such as recommended products and related videos side bars) are also excellent tools for pointing internal links to your navigation products and increasing your ability to upsell at the same time.
There are many ways by which you can optimize site navigation, ranging from the simplest to the most technical. If this aspect of SEO is too confusing to grasp, hire an SEO company that can help you through the process. SEOValley is an expert in improving user experience and search rankings via navigation optimization. Contact us to explore your options.