It sounds like a broad term, but there are actually quite a few layers that go into website navigation when talking about SEO. Making sure that a user can navigate around your website easily is a huge ranking factor because it has everything to do with user experience. You want to make sure that users (as well as the Google bots) can move from different parts of your website without being confused or not knowing where to go next. Sounds easy enough, but it’s about more than creating a simple website. You have to consciously make efforts to create good website navigation, and fortunately there are several ways to make that happen.
Website Navigation Options to Improve SEO
Although navigation is a very large topic, there are essentially three categories you can break it into to make things easier: filters, categories, and linking. Below is a breakdown of what each one means:
Filters help to gives users the most specific page possible. They’re great for websites with a lot of information and choices.
The cool thing about filters is the idea that they put the user in control. If you have breadcrumbs enabled or already have things split up by category that’s great, but sometimes users want something even more specific. Filters are a way to gives users that targeted page. This is usually something that works better for larger companies, but if you have a lot of information it could work great. To the right is a screenshot of LinkedIn allowing users to filter what types of jobs they want to see in their results.
You can setup filters by is typically up to a developer. You can either create filters by creating duplicate content or deciding not to index the filters. You can visit here for more specific information on setting up filters.
This is a popular technique no matter how large or small your website might be because it splits up the website into smaller sections.
The biggest challenge with creating categories is just that—creating. You don’t want to make too many categories that it’s confusing, you don’t want your categories to be too similar, and you don’t want to have to few that some content on your site has no where to go. It’s definitely tricky, so you have to have a plan when it comes to how you’re going to break apart your site. There are a few different ways to make it happen:
– Think about phrases/keywords users would use on your website. Use your intuition.
– Think about all of your similar pages and then group those together. Remember, it’s OK to put one page into two different categories, but don’t do this too often or it might seem confusing.
– Look at the traffic coming from all of your pages and see if they should be split into any type of category.
– Try to limit yourself to five to seven categories if possible.
You can also use tools like Google AdWords to see which keyword phrases are the most popular for your specific site and then use those as the labels on your categories.
Probably the most popular way to improve your website navigation for SEO. There are three linking terms to know: Internal, horizontal, and vertical linking.
There are many different kinds of linking you can do for your website, but there are only a few that will help you improve the navigation of your site. Below explains the three different types and how they work:
– Internal. This is the most popular and easiest type of linking. It allows you to link to other pages within your website on one of your webpages so that readers can find related topics easily. If I said, “learn more about internal linking here,” then “here” would be the internal link. It’s sending you to another related page on the website.
– Horizontal. A lesser-known term, horizontal linking is all about related products and sometimes related content (so it’s best for an ecommerce site). Sites such as one of my favorite runner blogs, Will Run for Food, have a section for “related articles,” which allows users to easily navigate to similar things that would probably be of interest. Below is a screenshot:
– Vertical. This is essentially breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs is a tool that monitors which pages a user has visited at the top of the page so that they can easily jump back to where they were. Below is a screenshot of the breadcrumbs on my company site:
All of these navigation initiatives can be added to your website immediately and start working toward your SEO efforts right away. Creating filters is slightly more difficult than creating a category or inserting a link, but with a little bit of time you should be able to have any three of these options (or all three) up and running in no time. I recommend using the breadcrumb plugin as well as the related posts plugin if you’re looking for something easy.
Have you used any tools in the past to help you create good navigation for your website? Have you found an increase in your Google ranking since putting a focus on navigation? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.