Behind Search Engine Optimization with Site Navigation and Structure
While many site visitors use visual and on-page links, like calls to action (CTAs), clickable images, and links to move around your website, many will be looking for a navigation menu.
A website can have a primary, secondary and even tertiary navigation options available to users. A well structured navigation system on the website is ideal for user experience. Navigation menus are an important part of the website structure and can improve the site’s SEO, performance and usability.
For example, an action-oriented top level navigation, coupled with a section-specific secondary navigation can be more intuitive than having a single navigation menu. This is especially true for sites that contain significant amounts of information, for examples online shops. Other sites might not need additional navigation cues, due to limited amount of content displayed on their pages.
When building out the structure and navigation flow of your website, these are additional points to consider:
- Use the footer as a directory of links to other parts o your website
- Use action-oriented language
- Create both XML (for crawling robots) and human-friendly sitemaps
- A sitemap for visitors can be a great tool for optimizing the structure and user experience of website pages.
It is worth noting that all website pages have a certain authority in the eyes of search engine robots. When pages are interlinked, some of the authority is passed down to the pages it links to. As such, this can also contribute to better optimization of certain pages if you deliberately link to the ones you expect to have the most impact on your visitors.
A clearly defined sitemap for human users can improve your website’s SEO. A dynamic sitemap is a better way to communicate to search engines what content is available on what page of your website. However, a user-facing sitemap, will lead to better retention and encourage more dwell time (pages per visit). It also helps you organize your website links in a clear structure that will allow you to spot improvement potential on user flow and navigation.
Today the most effective SEO strategy is to serve the users what they need in an intuitive way. What is in the users’ best interest is almost always going to provide you with the with best SEO results.