How Important is Website Navigation for SEO?
Often, when people work on websites, it’s easy to forget what’s important. For example, from a design perspective, you may have lots of fresh ideas that you just can’ wait to implement. But do you ever stop to consider how this will affect the user experience, and specifically, how they navigate the website? Also from an SEO perspective, it’s easy to concentrate on the optimisation of specific pages as well as build strong links, but you shouldn’t neglect the more technical elements like website navigation because this too is incredibly important when it comes to SEO.
In this sense, there’s more to website navigation than SEO, it can also seriously affect the usability of your site. This makes it absolutely integral to your online marketing efforts. But how do you go about doing this? What tips are there for search engine-friendly website navigation?
First of all, search engines like websites that are easy to crawl, so ensuring that your website has a search engine-friendly structure is important. This is where you need to draw up a map of your website’s links, so you can assess its structure. Look to use static HTML for every page, as this is easy for search engines to crawl and rank.
Another great tip would be to include a SiteMap on your website, which lists all of your pages as well as to and from where they’re are linked. It’s worth directing the search engines to your SiteMap using a robots.txt file which can be uploaded to the root of your domain. This will ensure that first page the search engine visits will be your SiteMap. Before you do that though, ensure you navigation is up-to-scratch.
So, make sure your main navigation includes all of the top-level pages of your site. So these would be things like your main category pages, as well as an About Us page and Contact Us page. This helps to provide a clear structure to both the user and the search engine. From an SEO perspective structuring your website in such a way will help to pass on authority from your Home page to the top level pages, thus making them stronger in the process.
It is worth keeping in mind the ’3-click rule’. This is where any page on your website is no more than three clicks away from your Home page. There are multiple reasons for this, but suffice to say that from a user’s perspective, if you have to navigate ‘deeper’ into the site and click on more links to get to your final destination, then this could cause confusion and seriously affect usability. Again from an SEO perspective, this will also ensure that any authority from your Home page is passed onto the ‘deeper’ pages that are only 3 clicks away – any ‘deeper’ and the page will lose much of this authority.
Another tip would be to use text links as opposed to images when it comes to the navigational links on your site. This will help to improve your internal link structure and also gives you the option of including anchor text that is relevant to the page you are linking to. Anchor text is not the be all and end all, but it can help to improve the keyword relevancy of pages on your website, which in turns helps the search engines find your site when user’s search for those key terms.
There’s a great deal more that you need to consider when it comes to website navigation for SEO, but for starters, consider the aforementioned tips.