Your website’s navigation structure is an extremely important element of the search engine optimisation process. If your website’s navigation structure is poorly designed then Google and the other search engines will struggle to index all of your web pages.
The search engines use automated software to crawl your site and rely on the navigation links embedded in your code, to move from page to page.
There are two main elements to consider when designing your website’s navigation structure:
- Your primary consideration should be to your website visitors. Your sites navigation structure needs to be designed in a simple format that will help your visitors locate the relevant content they are searching for quickly and easily.
- The second most important consideration should be the search engines. Your website’s navigation structure needs to be made as search engine friendly as possible, to ensure that Google and all other search engines can crawl your site and find and index every page of content. This is a vital part of the search engine optimisation process.
It is possible to create a navigation structure that will satisfy both visitors and search engines by following these simple guidelines:
- Choose text based links rather than image based links
- Using simple text based links offers the most reliable, search engine optimisation method. In addition to being a structure that can be easily followed by search engine spiders, a text based navigation structure also provides an opportunity to include your most important keywords within your page content. The targeted keywords contained within your navigation links are important to all search engines and the keyword rich text used for each link can help other pages to rank well.
If coded correctly, search engines will still be able to crawl image based links, but you will lose the keyword targeting benefit that can be achieved using a text based navigation structure.
The position of your navigation structure is also important
Generally speaking, it is more effective to position your navigation structure either along the top or down the left hand side of your web page. The reasons for this are as follows:
- This will keep your navigation links towards the top of your HTML code for each relevant web page, which is extremely search engine friendly.
- This will also ensure that all your navigation links can be easily located by your visitors.
- It is also important to maintain a standard location for your navigation links, across all pages of your website. If the position of your navigation links switch position on different pages, it will become very confusing and frustrating for your visitors.
Finally, I would recommend uploading an XML Sitemap to your server, as this will help the search engines find and index all of your sites web pages.
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