Cameron FrancisSeptember 04,2013

Best Practices For Website Navigation

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Small things can make a large difference at times. How you name your navigation links is a good example. How your navigation is structured can have a big impact on your results. This is why:

  • Navigation affects site traffic. It influences your search engine rankings and the amount of traffic you will receive from search.
  • Navigation has an affect upon conversions. It affects a site’s usability and the proportion of visitors that you will convert.

We will furnish you with some best practices for website navigation. Hopefully, you will be able to quickly resolve any navigation problems you have.

Descriptive Labels

Labels like “What We Offer” really doesn’t say what you offer. Neither does “Services” or “Products”. Navigation that is descriptive and that makes use of key phrases works better for a couple of reasons.

  • Better For Search Engines

    Navigation is an important place to display relevance. Nobody is performing a search for “services” or “products” so using these labels in navigation is not helping your search engine rankings.

  • Better For Visitors

    A label that says “What We Offer” really doesn’t say what you offer. Even though it clearly indicates where to find out more, it does not provide instant communication. If the navigation contains a list of your primary services or products, it will be very obvious, when someone quickly glances, what your business does. If your navigation indicates things up front, you can save your users a click, and you are likely to reduce your bounce rate.

Make use of navigation labels to begin telling visitors and search engines what your site is about. Make use of labels that use popular key phrases and phrases directly related to your offerings.

Use Seven Or Fewer Menu Items

Some sites have hundreds of home page links. That is not a good idea. Maintaining a limit on the number of main navigation links is beneficial for a couple of reasons:

  • Helpful For SEO

    Typically the home page of a site will have the most authority in regards to search engines, since there are normally more links to it than to your inner pages. This authority is frequently referred to as “link juice” and it will flow to your inner pages via the navigation. If the home page has numerous links, this “link juice” will be diluted. If your navigation is concise, an increased amount of link juice will flow to your inner pages and they will have a greater probability of ranking well.

  • Better For Site Visitors

    A person’s short term memory normally will retain seven items. In visual terms, eight is significantly more than seven. With fewer items, visitors have a greater likelihood of seeing and remembering all of them. If your site has too many, visitors may overlook important items. Every time a menu item is removed, everything to the left of it is more prominent and has a greater likelihood of being noticed by visitors.

Avoid The Use Of Drop Down Menus

  • Better For SEO

    Drop down menus are not easily crawled by search engines. Depending on the programming they can cause problems.

  • Better For Site Visitors

    Usability studies have demonstrated that drop down menus annoy users. Since visitors visualise things more rapidly than they can move a mouse, when the mouse is moved to a menu item they have already made a decision to click on it, and then more options suddenly appear. This is a hiccup in the visitor’s mind. In addition, drop down menus cause important pages to be skipped by visitors. If you are currently using drop down menus, you will be able to see this in your site analytics.

Give Consideration To How Navigation Is Ordered

A basic principal of site design is to first provide visitors with what they desire, then they may provide you with what you desire. Therefore, always try to place items that are likely to be of the most importance to visitors in a prominent location.

When it comes to website navigation, the items at the beginning of the navigation and at the end will be the most effective, since this is where the attention of the visitor and the visitor’s retention are greatest. This is termed the serial position effect. It is true due to two principals, recency and primacy. Therefore, place the items that are most popular at the start of the navigation. You can examine your analytics to determine what they are.

In Conclusion

In an ideal world, navigation is relatively simple to change. A well constructed site will be flexible, allowing you to alter things when needed. Ensure that your labels and the way your navigation itens are ordered are designed to work well for human visitors and for search engines.

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Author: Cameron Francis Cameron Francis is the Director of eTraffic Group. He has been engaged in all aspects of online marketing for the past 8 years. He is actively involved in SEO, Paid Search, Social Media Optimisation, and Web Design.

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