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Monday, September 20, 2010

Creating Effective and Optimized Website Navigation

Posted by @ 7:43 pm

Following on from my posts about website architecture and PageRank leakage, today I’ve decided to cover another important element of your site’s structure – Navigation.

There are two main considerations when building your sites navigation,

  1. First and foremost should be users. Your site’s navigation needs to help users find different content on your website quickly and easily.
  2. The second consideration should be search engines. Navigation should also be useful for search engines wanting to crawl your website and index your content.

It is possible to create navigation that will satisfy both users and search engines, so let’s take a look at some advice which can help to achieve this.

Choose Text Over Images
Simple text based navigation is the most search engine friendly. Apart from being easily followed by spiders, text based navigation gives an opportunity to include the keywords in the page content.

The keywords included in the navigation are valued by all search engines and the anchor text used for each link can help other pages to rank well.

Search engines will still be able to crawl image based links, but you will lose the keyword based targeting you can achieve with text.

Location Matters
Generally speaking, it is best to keep your navigation along the top or left hand side of your website. There are a couple of main reasons for this,

  • It keeps your navigation links towards the top of your HTML which is good for search engines.
  • It keeps navigation links in the eye path which is makes it easy to locate for users.

It’s also important to keep a standard location for your navigation across all pages on your website. If navigation switches location on various pages it may become confusing for users to locate.

Avoid Using Javascript
Search engines are getting better at reading JavaScript, but it can still cause crawling issues. The best option is to avoid JavaScript based linking as it may result in search engines missing some pages and not performing a complete crawl of your site.

If your navigation has to be JavaScript based, make sure that links are still visible if your browser has JavaScript disabled.

Matthew Elshaw Matt is a marketing professional at, an international search marketing firm. Matt's passion for online marketing began at university and has proved invaluable in steering product development and marketing initiatives at the company. Matt is a regular contributor to the ineedhits search marketing blog.

View Matthew Elshaw's profile

Discussion (4 - comments)

[...] Creating Effective and Optimized Website Navigation | ineedhits [...]

By Examining the role of a SEO company | - October 8, 2010

thanks for the post

By Robert Wilson - October 18, 2010

Nice post, Matthew. Thanks for sharing

By Anonymous - June 30, 2011

[...] Creating Effective and Optimized Website Navigation [...]

By The Anatomy of a Perfect Website | - March 2, 2012

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